Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories, Day 14 - Fruitcake

Doesn't everyone have a fruitcake story?  My Dad actually liked fruitcake, but Mom did not.  Somewhere she found a recipe for "White Fruit Cake" that had only the candied cherries and pineapple and pecans - none of the citron bits.   That cake was not half bad.  I have her recipe with the list of ingredients and the instructions to "mix as for regular cake" and bake at 250 degrees for three hours.  I've tried it and the cake still tastes quite good but it crumbles badly and can't be sliced.  So something is not quite right - one of the ingredients off a bit or not quite the same as it was fifty years ago.  Probably would be really good as crumbles with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

I did use to always make what I called fruit cake cookies - but the only fruit is candied cherries ...and dates.  (Are dates a fruit??? - I think so.)  This recipe makes a lot of cookies - they are very rich so they need to be small.  I think I used to end up with about eight dozen or so.  Great to share with neighbors.  It's also a cookie that ships well and keeps well.  They taste better as they age!  As the children grew up and departed, the recipe just made too many cookies.  If you need a big batch of cookies with a bit of holiday flare ...here's the recipe.

Fruit Cake Cookies

Mix thoroughly:
1 cup soft shortening  [I always used half butter, half Crisco]
2 cups brown sugar, packed
2 eggs

Stir in 1/2 cup sour milk or buttermilk or water  [I used buttermilk because I made a coffee cake at Christmas time that also needed the buttermilk.]

Sift together [I never sifted ...just stirred in the dry ingredients, works fine]
3 1/2 cups flour  [you might want to reserve about 1/2 of the cup of flour ...see note below]
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon salt

Then add
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
2 cups candied cherries, cut in half - can use half red, half green for more color
2 cups cut up dates

It's helpful to reserve some of the flour to toss the cherries and dates so they aren't quite so sticky and mix in easier.

Chill dough for at least 1 hour.  Drop by teaspoonsfuls about 2" apart on lightly greased baking sheet.  You can place a pecan half on top of each cooky if you like. 

Bake 8 to 10 minutes at 400 degress.  They should just be set - when touched lightly with a finger, almost no imprint remains.

And here's a disclaimer.  My kids all thought the food kind of dates were icky, so I never told them what was in these cookies.  They never noticed!

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