It All Began with Fruitcake
The world is divided into those who secretly adore fruitcake and those who openly abhor it. It’s time for those of us who appreciate a good, hearty fruitcake to come out of the pantry and stand up for the confection, that’s gotten such a bum rap in recent years. (See my post entitled “The Fruitcake Bigot.”)
I’ve eaten bad fruitcake, but, then, I’ve eaten good—the kind my mother made, that soaked up nearly a fifth of bourbon before reaching perfection. I prefer a light-colored, cakey version with just cherries and nuts, not one that’s overly-packed with sticky, candied fruits. They’re hard to find, unless you bake them yourself and I gave that up some years ago.
The Cookie Solution
An Heirloom Recipe
Don’t let your distaste for fruitcake keep you from giving these fruity, nutty tidbits a place on your Yuletide cookie platter. Even those who don’t care for traditional fruitcake find these cookies a festive, holiday treat.
I remember my mother making this recipe in the 50’s and I’ve made it many-a Christmas thereafter. My sister-in-law used to bake me a batch each year, when I was occupied with political pursuits. (Like Blanche DuBois in Streetcar Named Desire, I had to “depend on the kindness of others.” Since my sister-in-law is no longer with us, I’ve considered getting my granddaughters to bake them, but they’re still into iced, sugar cookies.
Happily, this recipe makes 5 dozen cookies, enough to see you into the New Year. Last holiday season I couldn’t find the candied pineapple and had to sub candied orange rinds. I also used fewer cherries. I veer to the side of cakey-ness rather than over fruity-ness.
Bourbon Fruitcake Cookies
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 3 eggs
- 3 cups unsifted, all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. cloves
- 1/2 tsp. fresh nutmeg
- 3 Tbs. milk
- 1/2 cup bourbon
- 1 cup candied pineapple, chopped
- 1 cup candied red cherries, chopped
- 1 cup candied green cherries, chopped
- 1 cup dates, chopped
- 2 cups golden raisins
- 4 cups chopped pecans
Cream butter and sugar, mixing well. Add the eggs and beat well. Combine flour, baking soda, and spices; add the butter/sugar mixture to the dry ingredients, alternating with the milk and mixing well after each addition. Stir in bourbon, fruit and nuts and mix well to incorporate.
Drop heaping teaspoons onto a greased cookie sheet and bake at 325 degrees for 13 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Makes approximately 5 dozen cookies.