Schatzi: So I came across the original of this recipe last year while idly paging through a Real Simple from the previous year (see, I am vindicated in my habit of holding onto magazines), and was immediately intrigued. After all, I do love fruitcake. As a “fruitcake cookie,” however, it was distinctly lacking. One cup of cranberries and one cup of nuts? The cranberries are a nice touch, but those proportions hardly make it fruity! Since I already had extra fixings from the Fruitcake Cookies, I decided to experiment a little. I added golden raisins, and I also added the glaceed fruits that are the trademark of the modern American fruitcake. (You could use a mix of glaceed fruits, or combine citron, cherries, pineapple, and citrus peels in your own preferred proportions to equal one cup. If those types of fruit are just too unbearable, one could probably make a delicious variation on this recipe with just dried fruits: cranberries, raisins, currants, dates, cherries, blueberries, apricots, etc. In fact, I may have to try that later this week!)
The proportions in which I added fruit last year weren’t quite enough, so this year’s batch had more, and the difference is visible. I also added a dash of spice this year because they seemed a little bland, otherwise. The end results were surprisingly delicious and popular–even with a few people who don’t care for fruitcake.
I must say, though, these are only superficially like fruitcake. They simply don’t have the moist, rich density or complex flavor of a good fruitcake. They more closely resemble lebkuchen, the German gingerbread.
EDIT: This Christmas (2009), I further experimented with the recipe, substituting one tablespoon of molasses for one of corn syrup, and it made such a difference in these cookies! The texture was much softer, more like that of a brownie than a cookie, and the flavor was much deeper and spicier. I left some corn syrup in to keep sugar from crystallizing and to also hold it together a bit. The recipe has been altered to reflect this. Also, if you do not or cannot eat nuts, it is perfectly delicious without them. Everyone raved about these this year, more so even than last year; they were nearly a different cookie entirely, and makes them much more closely resemble a fruitcake taste and texture.
Fruitcake Bar Cookies
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon dark corn syrup
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1-1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ginger
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup mixed glaceed fruits (cherries, pineapple, citron, lemon and orange rinds)
1 cup pecans or walnuts, halved or quartered
2 tablespoons dark rum
Preheat the oven to 375F. Grease or parchment a 9×9-inch square baking pan.
Toss dried berries and raisins in a bowl with 1 tablespoon dark rum, and let sit, stirring periodically.
Beat the butter, sugars, corn syrup, molasses, and vanilla until fluffy. Add the egg and rum, and mix well.
Combine the flour, salt, spices, and baking soda in a separate. Add the dry mix to the egg mixture, mixing thoroughly. Fold in the fruit and nuts.
Spread batter in the prepared baking pan. Bake for 35 minutes. Finish cooling on wire rack. Cool 10 minutes before slicing.
adapted from Real Simple.