Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christmas 2010 Cookie Explosion #2 - Fruitcake Cookies

Now, let's talk. I can tell that some of you really want to turn the page, or haven't even bothered to finish reading. Trust me, that's your loss.

Fruitcake has a bad rap, I know. When it comes to that packaged stuff, I don't like it either. I have a recipe that I like, but that's mainly after it's been so soaked in booze for over a month that I get a buzz every slice. But, that is another story.

My mom, however, does love fruitcake. Her diabetes, however, does not. So, I worked on these cookies. Now, they are not exactly diabetic friendly. But, one or two during the holidays instead of some fruitcake satisfies her cravings, and don't impact her too much.

I have to tell you though. Whether you love or hate fruitcake, give these cookies a try. One of the beauties of these, and, of course, making them yourself is, if you don't like a particular taste of fruitcake, just leave that dried fruit out, and replace it with something else. I don't care for citron or candied lemon in fruitcake, so I left it out.


I started this dough from Ina Garten's Dried Fruit cookies, but changed them quite a bit. Since my mom doesn't like the taste of alcohol, I substituted orange juice, and it works well. While Ina's have quite a few dates in it, I wanted a more balanced cookie, so I chose to reduce the number of dates in them, and add some dried cherries and dried blueberries. And, I added some quartered dried apricots for good measure.

One of the tricks of this recipe is letting the fruit soak in the orange juice overnight. However, if you don't have the time for that, you can gently heat the juice (don't let it boil), and pour it over your dried fruit. Let it sit for about an hour, and it will be good to go.

If you like dried fruit, I encourage you to give this recipe a try. You won't regret it! These also freeze very well. You can roll them into a log and freeze for up to 2 months. Nothing better than giving your Christmas guests fresh from the oven cookies. They will never know they have been in the freezer!

I've gave you a few tips tonight, and here's another one. When you are making slice and bake cookies, if you want to keep them perfectly round, every time you cut a cookie off the roll, roll the dough 1/4", then make the next cut. That way it won't get flat on one end. I deliberately made these cookies a bit rectangular, but if I wanted them round, that's what I would do.


Fruitcake Cookies
Inspired by: Dried Fruit Cookies by Ina Garten

Combined 3 1/2 cups dried fruit, I used 1 cup dates, 1/2 cup chopped apricots, 1/2 cup raisins, and 1 1/2 cups mixed cranberries, blueberries, and cherries
1/2 c. orange juice
1 T. maple syrup or honey
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1 cup butter, softened
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 c. dark brown sugar
1/3 c. sugar
1/2 t. salt
1 egg
2 1/2 c. all purpose flour

In a large plastic or glass bowl, combine the dried fruit, orange juice, and maple syrup. Cover, and let marinate overnight.

When ready to prepare cookies, combine butter, dark brown sugar, and sugar and mix until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and egg. Mix until well combined. Add flour and beat until fully combined. Add fruit mixture (most of the moisture from the juice will be absorbed, don't worry), and the nuts. Mix until evenly combined.

Divide mixture into 2 separate pieces, and from into 2" diameter logs. At this point, you can refrigerate or freeze the dough for up to 2 months (in the freezer, 1 week in the refrigerator). You will want to refrigerate until firm, or they won't slice well. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350. Slice in 1/2" thin with a very sharp knife, and place on parchment lined cookie sheets, about 1/2" apart. They don't spread, so they don't need to be too far apart. Bake 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

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