Friday, July 30, 2010

Family fruitcakes

OK, here is the 3rd in the trilogy of unrelated recipes...except of course that they are all coming from ME! Sorry Pam, didn't make it before your lake trip, which sounds like fun but not enough to drive that far for a day trip - if I'm going to get carsick, it's got to be for a REALLY good reason!

I have 4 brother-in-laws, all of them peaches, but the one I've had the longest really cracks me up. He's a funny guy, and has all kind of old-timey quotes he throws out in normal conversation without even thinking about it...he looked really puzzled the time I started laughing when he was discussing dirt-biking and a particularly sharply angled hill being "Steeper 'n a cow's face" - his response was "Well, it is!", and I can't fault him for accuracy! It may have been some kind of spidey sense or something, but a couple years ago I got this recipe from my niece, and made him a batch for his birthday - his reaction was quite charming. He said they were his favorite (I knew that), and that his mom used to make him a batch every year for his birthday, but she hadn't the last couple years. BIL SCORE! The only thing that would have made it better for him would have been an ale and a cigar....while he watched a baseball game.

So here is the recipe, but I have issues with the name - this in no way, shape or form resembles the dread "Christmas Fruitcake" that has ruined that name for so many. It does have fruit in it, but not the nasty candied kind that comes in colors usually reserved for tacky stained glass candle holders purchased at your nearby Dollar Tree, or those little suckers that come in a long strand of plastic you're supposed to share with 19 other people with no taste buds. If I told you a couple stories about how those candied fruits were made, you wouldn't DREAM of putting them in something you put in your mouth....my husband worked at a plant that produced them and he would die before eating that crap. No, this has good dried fruit, and you can choose the combination - just head to your local Winco and peruse the bulk foods section...it's got 'em all!

Mark's Favorite Fruitcake Cookies

3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. margarine or butter
2 eggs
1 tsp. brandy extract (DO NOT substitute...it's essential!) ((I MEAN IT))
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1-1/2 c. flour
1 c. dried fruit, chopped (what kind you ask? See below)
1 c. dates, chopped (the ones I get in bulk are already like pellets)
1 c. chocolate chips
1/2 c. walnuts, chopped (it says nuts, but Mark grows/LOVES walnuts..do the math)

Cream together butter and sugars - my daughter says she read somewhere that the fluffier you cream the butter and sugar, the better cookie you will get - has to do with the sugar completely dissolving or some such nonsense. But her cookies the other night were da BOMB! Add eggs, extract, baking powder and soda, salt and cinnamon and mix well. Add flour and beat until smooth, stir in fruit and nuts. Drop by teaspoon or cookie scoopfuls on cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes; remove from sheet while still hot and cool on rack.

OK, dried fruit. If you find a package of something called a "dried fruit mix", you could use that - it's usually already chopped enough for this recipe. If not, use a variety, which could include regular and golden raisins, currants, dried apples, pears, apricots, pineapple, cherries, cranberries, kiwi, strawberries etc. - you know, dried fruit. Once I used the fruit in a bag of Kirkland fruit/nut mix, but had to separate all the nuts because I just wanted the walnuts...it was a big pain and there were hardly any cherries in the cookies because I kept picking them out to make sure they weren't "bad". But do what you like - but I would not recommend banana chips. Because that would be wrong.

Oh, and this would definitely be a great dessert after the mac and cheese....dried fruit shoots through you like sh** through a goose! Thanks again Mark....;-D

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