Thursday, December 20, 2012

let's bake

Fruitcake cookie time!  Let's pretend we are reading a fancy cooking blog and it is going to introduce you to an amazing new cookie, invented at the House of Pook and Bug. You can follow along with the wonderful photos taken on the bloggers (husband's) new camera while your mouth waters and you decide when you'll have time to make them yourself.

You know you want to. I mean, look what's in them.  Relax at the word "fruitcake" in the label. These are no ordinary fruitcakes. First of all, notice that this is dried fruit, not that day-glo candied fruit, which is probably the reason no one likes fruitcakes.
Technically, this was three cups of dried fruit. I used dried sour cherries, apricots, pineapple and raisins. The first three are important. Raisins are a bit boring, but that's what I had.

Dried pineapple is just candy. You can't call this fruit anymore. Yum. Chop the fruit, but not too small; we love biting into chunks of fruit.

Now zing it up with some candied ginger. Your love of the taste should determine the chunk size here. It can be pretty intense to bite into large bits. If I measured (which I don't) I'd suggest using about two tablespoons, chopped.

You've got to put nuts in a fruitcake-ish dessert. Add in a half cup of chopped pecans.Toss the fruit, ginger and pecans together with 1/2 c. flour and a teaspoon of lemon zest. (If you have it, which I didn't. I faked it by putting some sprinkles of lemon juice on the fruit and nuts before tossing on the flour. I fake my way through a lot of recipes. But hey, I made this one up so I have all the license I need to alter it as I go.)
Time for the rest of the cast. I shop at Kroger. Can you tell? I'm a food snob in many ways. I grow my own herbs and I buy nice vanilla, but yeah, my spices are probably in need of replacing. My friends L and P toss out all their spices on January first and replace them with a set of basics, only buying weird ones when needed during the next year.

I left out some of the cast members. Let's take this from the top:
Cream a cup of butter. Real butter, two sticks at room temperature. (Or put frozen butter in the microwave on the power of one for one minute. It works here.) Add 1 1/2 cups brown sugar. None of the white stuff today. Get that all blended. Then add in two eggs, 1 teaspoon each vanilla, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda and a half teaspoon each of cloves, allspice and ginger. 

Once you have all that good stuff mixed together, take a taste. Oh, yeah. mmmm. I trust my source for eggs. His name is Keith.

Get out a cup of oatmeal and a half cup of apple juice. We always have apple juice around, but improvise if you must. You also need two cups of flour. Don't get all healthy now; use white flour.

The stuff is thick, so alternate dribbles of apple juice with the oatmeal so you can incorporate it all. Then, just when you don't think you can do anything else with the batter, add in all the fruit and nuts. Let your mixer do the work. It can handle it. Take all the tastes you want. The kids are at school and you get to lick the beaters yourself. (I might be talking about myself.)

Smear it into TWO pans (13x9") or drop them by the spoonful on cookie sheets. I have mixed feelings about these methods. Cookies are a pain in my tiny oven (I could only cook one of these at a time!) but I think they look better. The squares don't cut very neatly and get a bit crumbly in the cookie tin. Whichever.  Individual cookies should bake for 8-10 minutes and the bars take 25-30. Put the oven at 350° for either.
Do these look good or what? (I skip the booze part of the fruitcake. If you like it, I think that pouring something over the pan, hot out of the oven, would work well. Another option would be macerating the fruit in it.) When out of the oven, cut them into bars.

They're good. They're really good. They will convince you that fruitcake isn't a bad word. You will use them to convince others that fruitcake is alright after all. And then we will all eat.

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