What’s the most universally dreaded item gifted on a holiday sweets platter? The fruitcake, of course! Now, I’m not one for fruitcake but last night Food Network ran a holiday special with a woman determined to convince us that fruitcake can be tasty. After watching her cream butter and mix in REAL dried fruits (cherries, apricots, dates, prunes…) and fresh almonds and some other nut I can’t remember, I was craving hard for a slice of her fruitcake. Hallelujah, golly be! I just found her recipe online!!!!
Well, the bad news is that I didn’t make her fruitcake last night. Instead, I opted for Ina Garten’s fruitcake cookies. I made the sad mistake of using some terrible multicolored sugared fruit (My 1st and last encounter with that “fruit”) in place of Ina’s cherries and figs for budget’s sake. This cookies has an odd little secret: it contains no leaveners. Nope, none at all. I was tempted to add baking soda or powder, but in an effort to try the recipe as true-to-form as possible, I resisted.
These cookies are nothing like the dense icky fruitcakes of Christmas past. They are actually a very tasty modern twist that I think could trump the cake in years to come. These cookies come out of the oven thick and almost crumbly. Underbake just a bit to prevent the crumbliness that may have the cookies falling to pieces. Overall, I love ’em! The batter, I found, tasted like sweetened condensed milk with hint of rum and chewiness of raisins. I loved the cookies, but that batter…I’ll never forget it! Apparently I am not alone, as Ina’s recipe reviews from Food Network’s website are all very much in favor of these little delights too. I know that our friends at the cookie open house this weekend will be very curious about my new traditional Christmas cookie keeper.
From Barefoot Contessa at Home
1/2 pound dried figs
1/4 pound raisins
1/4 pound candied cherries, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons dry sherry I used rum
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 ounces chopped pecans
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 extra-large egg
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
Snip off the hard stems of the figs with scissors or a small knife and coarsely chop the figs. In a medium bowl, combine the figs, raisins, cherries, apricots, honey, sherry, lemon juice, pecans, and a pinch of salt. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit overnight at room temperature.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, cloves, superfine sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the egg and mix until incorporated. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt just until combined. Don’t overmix! Add the fruits and nuts, including any liquid in the bowl. Divide the dough in half and place each half on the long edge of a 12 by 18-inch piece of parchment or waxed paper. Roll each half into a log, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4-inch thick, making an 18-inch-long roll. Refrigerate the dough for several hours, or until firm. I stashed it in the freezer for about 1 hr.