I send my relatives fruitcake each year. I’m not a huge fan of fruitcake myself; I only like so much spice in my food, and the fruitcake I’ve always made has lots of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. I make it with real dried fruit – I don’t really use any of the candied stuff in them.
But, this is the year that I make new recipes, so I wanted to try something a little different. I was going to try just a different recipe for fruitcake, something lighter and less spiced, but I kept putting off making it. I couldn’t decide for sure if I wanted to make it, and I didn’t want the fruitcake to be disappointing. What if they didn’t like it?
I was talking to my mom and telling her that I wanted to change the fruitcake recipe, but wasn’t sure if my relatives would like it. She sounded pretty noncommittal about the entire thing – she doesn’t like spiced cake much at all – but she sounded excited and intrigued when I mentioned that I’d found a cookie called Fruitcake Drops.
This recipe called for 9 cups of dried fruit. I really didn’t want to have to use all of my dried fruit (I was still going to make other things with it), and I wasn’t sure who all would eat the cookies, so I decided to halve the recipe. The recipe wasn’t difficult to make. I used rum for the alcohol, and plain apple cider since I didn’t feel like reducing it at all (I assume that’s what boiled cider is…?). For the fruit, I used mostly raisins, with some dates and cranberries mixed in– and maybe a few dried cherries, but I can’t remember. The recipe suggested using a stand mixer to add the fruit, since the batter would be extremely dense. The cookies are almost all fruit, so I’m glad I did this. There was little batter per cookie – the batter was just there to make sure that the fruit stays together.
These were pretty good. They stayed moist for a little while – I’m reviewing these a week and a half after I baked them, and they’re still moist. Raisins aren’t my favorite thing, but I enjoy the other fruit in these too. I made these as a gift, but if I were making them for myself, I would probably try a different mixture of fruit, including diced apricots or a few dried cherries. These were a quick alternative to fruitcake, and got positive reviews from people who wouldn’t normally eat fruitcake. Even the half batch made quite a few cookies (I got close to the yield in the recipe, although I forget the exact number), so these would be good to take to a large cookie exchange or holiday potluck. I’d try these again sometime.
Want other fruity cookies? Try Soft Cranberry-Orange Cookies or Chewy Oatmeal Cookies (with Cranberries or Raisins). Want other fruitcake-like recipes? Try Golden Fruitcake, Alton Brown's Free-Range Fruitcake, Stollen, Panettone, or Panettone Muffins.
- ½ cup butter (1 stick)
- 1 cup brown sugar packed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ cup bourbon (or rum, brandy, or apple juice)
- ¼ cup boiled cider (or apple juice concentrate, or cherry concentrate (or plain apple juice or cider))
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 ¾ cups flour
- 9 cups chopped dried fruit
With an electric mixer, cream butter, sugar, salt, and baking powder until smooth. Add eggs, and beat until creamy. Add bourbon and boiled cider and mix together; mixture may look curdled. Stir in spices, and then flour, mixing until smooth. Stir in fruit. (For the fruit, use either a stand mixer, or a sturdy wooden spoon or spatula.)
Portion cookies using a tablespoon measure. Place on greased or parchment-lined baking sheets about 1 to 1 ½ inches apart; they won't spread much.
Bake at 325F for 20-22 minutes, until they look set and bottoms are lightly browned. Cool completely before removing from baking sheets. Store in airtight containers using waxed paper between the layers, for up to several weeks.