Thursday, December 10, 2009

Fruitcake Cookies, but not like Mom's

When I was but a wee fellow, we always had fruitcake at Christmas time. It was almost always Claxton, made with sticky candied fruits and nuts. We even sold them for my high school band. While I do have a fondness for the idea of this tradition, I must admit they do not seem that appealing as a food item. Stand by Alton Brown...

The other fruitcake event that took place at our house each year was my mother making fruitcake cookies. OK, strange I know, but stick with me here - there is a pay-off. I always knew that she was prepping to make fruitcake cookies when the packages of bright, and I mean bright, green and red round fruit things appeared at the back of the our white with gold fleck counter-top. One year when I was around 10, I came into the kitchen and saw this cup of raisins sitting on the counter top. Well, I did like raisins, and they seemed fair game just sitting one watching... in goes my hand for as big a fistful as I could grab. The funny thing was they were wet, but no point in putting them back, plus they were dripping on the floor. Time to get rid of the evidence, down the hatch in big gulp. If you have ever made fruitcake or cooked with dried fruit, you are probably aware of the technique of soaking them, usually in some alcoholic spirit, to soften them. Remember the part about a big handful? OK, now think bourbon. My mouth was on fire, plus I was panicking about getting caught for eating all the raisins. Of course, it was about that time that my mother came in to find me stuck with a mouthful of bourbon soaked raisins and wet hands dripping on the floor. Lucky for me she seemed to find quite a bit of humor in the whole scene and helped me with a paper towel to get cleaned up.

Back to Alton Brown... A week or so ago I was watching Good Eats on the Food Network, and Alton was doing a show on fruitcake. No candied fruit here, he was talking dried blueberries, cherries, apricots and currents. This sounded really good, so after the memories of my Mother's cookies came to mind, I had the bright idea of converting Alton Brown's recipe to make fruitcake cookies. Nice, I could pay homage to my mother and update her recipe all at the same time, especially nice since I have not seen a copy of her recipe in many years.
Here is my recipe for fruitcake cookies. Please let me know what you think about these if you make them.

Mark's Fruitcake Cookies

  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup currants
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup dried blueberries
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup dried chopped apricots
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Zest of one orange
  • 1/4 cup candied ginger, chopped
  • 1 cup gold rum
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 ounces unsalted butter (1-1/4 sticks)
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground clove
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup toasted pecans, broken


Combine dried fruits, candied ginger and both zests. Add rum and microwave for 5 minutes to re-hydrate fruit.

Place fruit and liquid in a non-reactive pot with the sugar, butter, apple juice and spices. Bring mixture to a boil stirring often, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for at least 15 minutes.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine dry ingredients and sift into fruit mixture. Mix batter together then stir in eggs one at a time until completely integrated, then mix in nuts.

Spoon batter with a desert-sized spoon onto cookie sheet, bake around 14 minutes. They should look brown on top and lift from the pan when done. Cool on a wire rack and store in a airtight container. Makes around 70 cookies.