I just spent the weekend baking holiday cookies and have so much to share with you! I’m beginning with my dad’s favorite: fruitcake cookies. My mom has made these cookies for as long as I can remember but I’m not sure I ever actually tried one until 3 or 4 years ago.
They’re packed with fluorescent candied cherries (the green ones in particular look like they could glow in the dark) so you’d think it would be the kids that would have been excited about these cookies and not the adults. But for some reason my sister and I thought they were super disgusting (although I’m not really sure either of us ever tried them) and my parents, especially my dad, really liked them. So a few years ago I decided I should just give them a try and to my shock (and yes, perhaps horror), I really liked them. I made them for Joseph who also really liked them so they were the first cookie on my list to attack for the holidays this year.
Joseph helped enormously with the prep by cutting up all these suckers. I always forget how long it takes because you have to quarter each one and they’re super sticky. It’s one thing for someone like me who is just a slow cutter, but someone with great knife skills, such as Joseph, may find it agonizingly slow because the stickiness gets in the way of just about everything. Oh, um. And while you’re prepping, I would refrain from trying the cherries because they are sickeningly sweet and it may scare you off from what you’re making. But the finished product is worth it, I promise you! The cookie is buttery and has a rich brown sugar taste and the candied cherries make them about as festive as any cookie could be while the dates and pecans help them back to earth.
Adapted from Mary Kleeman
1 cup butter at room temperature
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
3 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups broken pecans
1 cup red candied cherries cut into quarters
1 cup green candied cherries cut into quarters
2 cups chopped dates
1 1/2 cups pecans for topping (optional)
Mix together the butter and brown sugar. Add the egg and beat to incorporate. Mix in the buttermilk.
Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the butter butter mixture until just combined. Stir in the pecan pieces, candied cherries, and dates. Chill for at least one hour.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease cookie sheets.
Drop dough on cookie sheet in rounded teaspoons and, if using, place a pecan piece on top. Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Allow the cookies to sit on the pan for at least a minute so it’s not too soft when you transfer them to a cooking rack.