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Fruitcake Bars That Don’t Suck

fruitcake bars that do not suck
The One Where Frank Proves To Cherie That Not All Fruitcake Sucks.

I am a lifelong fruitcake devotee. I even dig the store-bought bricks with the weird fluorescent jelly candied fruit. Cherie – on the other hand – is decidedly anti-fruitcake. She specifically cites those bright candied fruits as a core reason for rejection. So, I decided to perhaps change Cherie’s opinion of fruitcake by making an actual great from-scratch recipe.

I believe many anti-fruitcakers begin their skepticism because this cake has a long shelf life. At its core, a fruitcake is a baked concoction of mostly nuts and preserved fruits. This makes it very shelf-stable and resistant to spoilage. Adding alcohol to the mix extends the cake’s shelf life. This is not to say a fruitcake WON’T spoil – just that it will take quite a bit longer than your standard holiday baked good. In addition to being spoilage resistant, a properly made fruitcake is a great source of protein and energy. This makes it a preferred snack for long-distance trail hikers or travelers with no access to cold storage.

I decided to skip the usual fruitcake loaf and make mine as bars. Not only would they be more snackable, but my hope was the sort of “energy bar” style and size would help Cherie forget she was eating the dreaded fruitcake. As for the results of Cherie’s Taste Test? Yes – I found a fruitcake she likes. Turns out when you take a poorly made commercial brick and turn it into from scratch made with quality ingredients bars, it actually tastes good!

6 tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
6 tablespoons packed, light or dark brown sugar
2 cups nuts, toasted and coarsely ground (half walnuts, half pecans)
1 1/4 cups dates, pitted and cut into eighths
1/2 cup craisins or raisins
1 cup dried apricot halves, cut into sixths
1/4 cup candied pineapple, coarsely chopped (about 2 slices)
1/4 cup dried apple slices, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons fine chopped candied ginger
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Line an 8-inch square pan across the bottom and up the sides with two sheets of aluminum foil, making a big criss-cross with the sides overhanging.

Preheat the oven to 325°F and position the rack in the center of the oven. 

In a large bowl, toss together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the brown sugar, nuts, and fruit. Use your fingers to mix the fruit, separate any pieces sticking together. 

Beat the eggs and vanilla in a small bowl, then mix it with the fruit and nut mixture until everything’s coated with the batter. Spread the mixture in the baking pan and press gently to even it out. 

Bake for 35-40 minutes until the top of the bars are golden brown and has pulled away just-slightly from the sides of the pan. Cool the bars in the pan, then lift out. Portion into snack size bars.

Posted in baking, breakfast, christmas, comfort food, cooking, dessert, food, holiday, recipe

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