Not My Grandma’s Fruitcake Cookies

Date December 6, 2012

I can no more explain the expression on my face than I can the hideous pink and white netting Christmas wreath . . . or the nasty undersea coral wallpaper . . . or the gold chandelier over the kitchen nook table. All I can tell you is that it was the 60′s and between bell bottoms, waffle stompers, Space Food Sticks, and lava lamps, I think I need say nothing more.

The old woman who looks like Every Grandma was my grandma which means I was about the luckiest little girl in the world. Her name was Rosina. She always had egg custard made with cream instead of skim milk (good try Mom!)  in her refrigerator and kitchen drawers filled with tins of cookies she baked for school children who came to our family dairy on school field trips. She spent so much time in the kitchen baking her dress was always stiff with dried dough and when I kissed her she tasted like snickerdoodles or peanut butter cookies or whatever cookie dough she was baking and taking random quality control taste-tests on.  Every evening after dinner Grandma would sit in the living room and do embroidery while Grandpa sat a few feet away in his brown leather recliner watching anything on TV as long as it was sports. My grandparents loved each other in an over the moon kind of way every day of their 60 years together and when Grandma died Grandpa left her wedding ring just as it was, caked with flour and dried cookie dough. I smile and remember my grandma every time I look at my own ring and see more dough than diamonds.

As much as Grandma baked throughout the year, Christmas was the zenith of her baking frenzy and according to all reports my grandma was known for making one tasty fruitcake.

Tasty fruitcake. I’m not absolutely certain of this but isn’t that a bit of an oxymoron?

Well, if anyone could pull off a fruitcake that people actually ate as opposed to using as a corner foundation for a new addition to their house it would be my grandma, but I don’t know this from personal experience because when she was baking fruitcake I was a just a little kid and children under the age of 42 do not eat fruitcake. Even the youngest child knows that by definition real cake 1) never includes nuts or mystery fruit and b) always is covered in a thick glob of frosting. Fruitcake breaks all the established rules and therefore is shunned by children. I was no exception.

And yet, the older I get the more sentimental I become and so this year I decided it was time to carry on my Grandma’s tradition of making a tasty fruitcake by making a tasty fruitcake cookie. After a few attempts that were disturbing at best and frightening at the worst, I came up with two versions of fruitcake cookies that are in my opinion crazy good!

The cookie on the left is the grown up version, a rich spicy cookie with hints of rum, molasses and citrus and all the traditional ingredients including nuts, raisins, pineapple, red maraschino cherries and those neon green candied cherries that you should never, under any circumstances pop in your mouth whole just too see how they taste. Never do that. Ever. Don’t ask me how I know. All I can say is it was the stuff of nightmares, and yet, chopped up into bitty pieces it becomes nothing more than a little beacon of Christmas color with no discernible flavor. Christmas, the season of miracles.

So, you’re probably thinking “Thanks for sharing but no way am I ever going to bother making a fruitcake-inspired cookie.” Listen. All I’m asking is that you pull up your big girl pajama jeans and give this recipe a try. You and I, we have a relationship here and so I wouldn’t lie to you. These cookies are really good and the taste is a total blast of Christmas.

But if you’re not willing to try the adult version (Baby!) then you’re going to love the kid’s version pictured up above on the right. I replaced the red and green cherries and the pineapple with red, green, and yellow gum drops. I added brown jimmies in place of the nuts, and some ground milk chocolate for flavor and color. The result is a cookie with both vanilla and chocolate flavors and the occasion fruity burst of a gum drop, or spice drop if you prefer. It’s a kid-flavored cookie and is totally fun for the holidays.

Before I give you the recipes, let me give you a tip on decorating the cookies to give them the look of fruitcake.  I began by staying with a simple rectangle shape to mimic fruitcake loaves. To give the children’s version a darker baked appearance I lightly brushed the tops of the cookies with a little brown coloring gel. To ice the cookies I placed them on a cooling rack with a baking sheet underneath. I then poured a watered down corn syrup glaze over the top, letting the excess run over the sides.  With the glaze still wet, I decorated the children’s cookies with tiny bits of the green, red, and yellow gumdrops and brown jimmies. I used walnuts, and red and green cherry bits to decorate the adult version but first I towel dried the cherries to remove the excess coloring so that the colors wouldn’t bleed into the icing.

So when the family asks you what you’re bringing to Christmas dinner just tell them you’re bringing fruitcake and get ready to watch their eyes roll into the back of their heads.

.

..

Not My Grandma’s Fruitcake Cookies (Adult Version)

Ingredients:
1 cup browned butter
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon rum emulsion or extract
2 tablespoons dark molasses
2 tablespoons orange zest
1/3 cup finely chopped green cherries
1/3 cup finely chopped red maraschino cherries
1/3 cup finely chopped raisins
1/3 cup finely chopped walnut pieces
1/3 cup finely chopped candied pineapple (usually near the dry fruit at the grocery store or in the bulk section)
4 – 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2  teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 pinches ground clove

Directions:
…..Preheat oven to 360 degrees.
1. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cloves in a bowl. Set aside.
2. Cream the butter and sugars together.
3. Add in the eggs, molasses, extracts, and orange zest, beating until well-blended.
4. Add in the cherries, raisins, walnut pieces and candied pineapple.
5. Add in the dry ingredients one cup at a time until the dough is fully incorporated.
6. Roll out the dough on a lightly-floured surface to the desired thickness. Place the cut cookies onto a parchment or silpat lined cookie sheet and bake on the center rack of the oven for 8-12 minutes. Baking time will be determined by the thickness and overall dimension of cookies.
7. Remove cookies from oven and allow to cool on baking sheet before moving to cooling rack.

 .

Not My Grandma’s Fruitcake Cookies (Children’s Version)

Ingredients:
1 cup softened butter
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 – 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup finely chopped or ground milk chocolate chips or candy bar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup brown jimmies
1 cup of of red, green, and yellow spice drops, chopped into tiny pieces (dust pieces once cut with powdered sugar to prevent them from sticking together)

Directions:
…..Preheat oven to 360 degrees.
1. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, jimmies, and milk chocolate in a bowl. Set aside.
2. Cream the butter and sugar together.
3. Add in the eggs and extract beating until well-blended.
4. Add in the dry ingredients one cup at a time until the dough is fully incorporated.
5. Stir in the chopped spice drops until dispersed throughout dough.
6. Roll out the dough on a lightly-floured surface to the desired thickness. Place the cut cookies onto a parchment or silpat lined cookie sheet and bake on the center rack of the oven for 8-12 minutes. Baking time will be determined by the thickness and overall dimension of cookies.
7. Remove cookies from oven and allow to cool on baking sheet before moving to cooling rack.

 

And as always, the foundation for these recipes begins with LilaLoa’s most awesome Vanilla Variation recipe.

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13 Responses to “Not My Grandma’s Fruitcake Cookies”

  1. Paula said:

    Now this is a fruitcake I would eat! What a lot of work experimenting with the recipes and coming up with a kid's and an adult's version.

    Loved the words about your grandmother and especially what your grandfather decided to do with her rings. How sweet and sentimental!

  2. Barbara said:

    OK. You got me. I am intrigued and might actually give the adult version a shot. A few questions: Are the red & green cherries the candied kind or the kind in a jar with liquid? Most of all, do you have any tips on how to finely chop the fruits, especially the really sticky ones? Please tell me to use a food processor & pulse them for a few seconds.

    Most of all, I love the way you have been pursuing roll out cookie flavor with a passion!

    I miss my grandmothers more after reading about yours!

  3. anita said:

    Barbara,

    I finely chopped the nuts using the pulse feature on my food processor. The pineapple and cherries (red were in a jar with liquid, the green were in a container, dry and sticky) I chopped by hand. I'm not saying it wouldn't work in the food processor…I just didn't try it. The main thing is if you used the regular red maraschino cherries is to towel dry them. You could use the red dye in those to paint a small town red!

  4. Lorraine said:

    Anita do you put a glaze on top of these too? Is it a flavored version of your glaze or just a glaze?

  5. Lorraine said:

    I just saw the answer Anita – sorry I was reading too quickly!!!!

  6. SweetSugarbelle said:

    Little Anita is even more adorable than grown up Anita! Can I KEEP HER!?

  7. Jenny said:

    I think you might be a better writer than you are cookier. And I know you are an absolutely incredible cookier because I have had your cookies.

  8. Diane said:

    I absolutely love this memory post about your grandma and grandpa and your blast from the past with the house photos !

    I would love to try your recipe since my hubby is one of the odd type that likes fruitcake.

  9. Corrie said:

    I actually LOVE fruit cake…I was quite a precocious child and developed a taste for it when I was barely 3o years old! I'm going to make these for my sister-in-law, who absolutely adores fruitcake and makes a tasty one every Christmas- Thank you for the recipe and what a sweet post about your grandma <3

  10. Karla said:

    You are such the cookie recipe genius! Thank you for sharing with us. I'm intrigued by all of your recipes but the fruitcake one will get me to the store TODAY for the ingredients. Can't wait to try it!

  11. Nicole (Life's said:

    I'm still in absolute AWE of these cookies, I really am! Your attention to detail is just stunning (like painting a bit of brown on the kid version – wow!), and I just keep waiting to hear where I can purchase my very own Anita's Cookies cookbook. ;-)

  12. Michele said:

    Geez Anita, I came onto your blog to look for a recipe and I just can't pass up reading ANYTHING that you write. You are so comical! So now I have spent the past hour reading when I needed to be making cookies. Thanks. Thanks a lot. lol Anywhosit (Adverb: /anitaspeak/) thank you for all that you do for those of us less talented. You're far-out! :)

  13. anita said:

    Michele, Excuse me but "less talented?" Please. I've seen your amazing work.

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