More Christmas Cookies

When I hear anyone say fruit cake I practically run screaming from the room. I cringe with embarrassment when I remember how many I made for the kids' teachers years ago.  No doubt I was the brunt of many fruit cake jokes in the teacher's lounge...all of them trying to figure out how to dump them tactfully. I never liked fruitcake anyway but my mother, bless her heart, thought it was delicious- so she pried a secret family recipe out of her friend Martha Kirby and passed it on to me. I could have told her not to bother but by then she had the recipe and insisted I make it. Let me be blunt: candied fruit now makes my stomach turn over. (That fruitcake recipe's only saving grace: they were soaked in brandy.) Somebody must still make them because candied fruit takes pride of place in the supermarket- starting pretty much now.

On the other hand these dried fruit cookies are wonderful. They're nothing like fruit cake and to remove even the slightest suggestion, I don't use candied cherries, I use dried cherries. The problem with my substitution is you don't get that little bit of vivid red in your cookie. So if you want, replace my dried red cherries with candied red cherries. Won't bother me and that's what was in the original recipe. Keep in mind the dried fruit must soak overnight so plan to make these a day ahead.

This recipe makes a lot of cookies; you roll it into a log and you can keep it in the fridge, slice and bake them as you want. I don't know why you couldn't freeze the dough for maybe up to a month. Then thaw in the fridge overnight before baking. They travel (and ship) really well and keep for quite a while. They're kind of like peanuts though, nibble, nibble all day long.

Dried Fruit Cookies
(Adapted from Ina Garten)


1/2 pound dried figs
1/4 pound raisins
2 ounces dried red cherries

2 ounces dried apricots, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 ounces chopped pecans
Kosher salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed 1 extra-large egg
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour


Cut off the hard stems of the figs with scissors  and coarsely chop the figs. Combine the figs, raisins, cherries, apricots, honey, sherry, lemon juice, pecans, and a pinch of salt. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit overnight at room temperature.

In an electric mixer cream the butter, cloves, superfine sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the egg and mix until incorporated. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt just until combined. 
Add the fruits and nuts, including any liquid in the bowl. Divide the dough in half and place each half on the long edge of a 12 by 18-inch piece of parchment or waxed paper. Roll each half into a log, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4-inch thick, making an 18-inch-long roll. Refrigerate the dough for several hours, or until firm.

Preheat the oven to 350°.
With a small, sharp knife, cut the logs into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place the slices 1/2-inch apart on ungreased sheet pans and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly golden.


  1. Gosh, these are terrific! Love the mixed fruits flavour. I'm saving up the recipe for later use. Thanks.

  2. Ha ha ha, I only eat fruitcake once a year - don't really mind it but wouldn't actively seek it out. These cookies on the other hand, they look a real treat! Would definitely get into them.

  3. Fruit cake is one of those things...either you love it or you don't. I routinely try a piece every year thinking I may like it...nope. But I'll take your word on the cookies and try those.

  4. Ooh. Those look yummy. I love sweets with dried fruits in them, they seem so rustic and homey.

  5. They look so Christmasy! I love the colors :)

  6. Kristy: I like that flavor as well.

    Shaz: At least you give it a chance every year!

    Cathy: I don't even look at it!

    Sasha: They're a great cookie.

    Megan: That's why I mentioned changing my dried cherries to candied cherries. It looks like a stained glass window the that bright red. I just don't like candied fruit, so I changed the recipe.

  7. They look really nice... and definitely a turn on in regards to the original fruit cake recipe ;)
    They also look like little scones on your picture... Maybe another variation for your next recipe?

  8. I bet these are amazing, look at all the goodies in there! Hope you saved one for me :) I could use one lol!

  9. Yep, fruit cake is a love or hate relationship!

    My dear (now passed) Aunt Selma and Uncle Jiggs sent our family a fruitcake EVERY YEAR and no one ever touched it.

    It came in a cardboard box, all wrapped in celephane. One year, it got put in a high cubbard and was forgotten FOR YEARS!

    We took it down, and it looked just as it did when we had gotten it!

    Thanks for this recipe - it sounds delicious!

  10. This is much preferable to fruit cake! It looks much yummier :) Does ANYONE like fruitcake? lol

  11. oh how yummy! i love all the dried fruit in there!

  12. These sound delicious and elegant and not at all like fruitcake! I have a cookie party in a few weeks and need to bring a few different kinds to share, these just might make the cut.

  13. I recently saw this on Ina's show and I thought they looks so lovely...and I'm not really a fan of fruitcake either! If you say they're good, I know they must be!

  14. I saw Ina making these just the other day and thought they looked delicious. I'm going to have to try these!

  15. These look good! My mom makes a fruit cake she loves, but it's not my thing. I prefer pumpkin bread.

  16. Mmm, these look super tasty! I'm not much of a fruit cake fan, although we're going to try a christmas cake this year, though without candied peel with I absolutely detest. Still, your cookies seem more tempting.

  17. looking a lot like christmas!
    everyone's posts are so christmasy these days. haha.
    looks good! fruit cake <3

  18. Dolce: They do look a little like scones in the photo, don't they? But they are much thinner.

    HH: They're pretty addictive!

    Biz 319: Funny story! Don't you get the feeling they will last forever?

    Phoenix: I don't know anyone who does!

    Teresa: Me too!

    Hungry: They are a big hit every time I serve them.

    Faith and Lisa: Isn't Ina great? I like nearly everything she makes.

    Duck: Not my thing either!

    Vanessa: Ugh. Candied peel.

    Muffins: Yep- it's all about Christmas for a while!

  19. Oooh hubby will love these! These look very interesting, I normally think of dark date cookies. Thanks for sharing the recipe! :D

  20. Hi Barbara! These sound really interesting! My husband grew up eating something called nut nibblers at Christmas time, but they just don't cut it as a Christmas cookie in my book. These sound like a much tastier version!!

    Hope you're having a great week!

    :) T

  21. I hear you on the fruit cake girl. My mom is still trying to convince me to enjoy it. I going to make these maybe she'll think I've become a fruit cake lover and she'll leave me alone this year! One can dream!!

  22. These are such festive delightful cookies! So perfect for the holiday season!

  23. The cookies look great. All of the different fruits especially the dried figs and sherry remind me of my mom's fruit cake, which I really like.

  24. Hi again, Barbara! I've an award for you. Please kindly stop by my blog to collect it. Thank you very much.

  25. And please leave down your link. Thanks!

  26. I've actually never had fruitcake but my father shudders uncontrollably whenever anyone mentions it, so I presume that your anti-fruitcake sentiment is widespread. These cookies sound really good though!

    (Maybe the solution to the fruitcake dilemma is just to put SO much brandy that you get drunk from eating it...and thus don't notice how bad it is?)

  27. Lorraine: They are not as chewy as a date cookie. More like shortbread.

    Tracey: Nut Nibblers sound kind of good. Do you have the recipe?

    Foodie: My mother always loved it. My grandmother too. Maybe it's a generation thing?

    Natasha: Thanks!

    Mimi: I like the figs in there too.

    Kristy: Thanks- I'll come over in a sec.

    Joanne: Funny about your dad. I'm with him. And yes, enough brandy helps.

  28. i definitely fall into the category of fruitcake-haters, but these are uniquely appealing! frankly, i think it's those nasty cherries in the typical fruitcake that turn me off, so your use of dried deserves a round of applause. beautiful work, barbara!

  29. These look so festive!

    I, too, fear the fruitcake. Shudder.

  30. Whether you love or hate fruitcake, it does make good french toast or bread pudding! My grandmother loved it as well so I grew up with it around at Christmas time. I can't say I ate all that much though! Your cookies do look heavenly and would make a wonderful gift.

  31. Barbara ~ I am one of those who absolutely love Fruit Cake! I like it no matter what form... cakey or like the old stand by Claxton Fruit Cake, which is almost jelly-like.

    So, I look forward to trying your Dried Fruit Cookies and remembering the gifts my second grade teaching mom brought home. Many thanks...

  32. Barbara, these look wonderful. I'm wondering now what would happen if you made a fruitcake and substituted dried fruit for the nasty candied stuff. Would it be edible? Hmmmm...not sure.

    When we have these cookies, though, why would we bother? Thanks for posting this.

  33. yum like crunchy fruit cakes!!

  34. Lovely cookies! I bet they taste heavenly!



  35. These cookies are just so delicious. Your pictures are making me so hungry and I don't have any in my house! :)

  36. I am yet to bake cookies for this christmas. Your cookies have tempted me so much. I may just go and bake a tray soon :)

  37. Thank you for sharing the great recipe, I was just looking for good Christmas cookie recipes. I guess this will be one of those I'll try, looks so great!

  38. I have never been a fan of fruitcake - but your cookies - I think I would love them. It sounds like a rich and really moist cookie full of yummy nuts and fruit!

  39. I'm not a fan of fruitcake either - and therefore haven't made it. I was considering making it this year, but I have too much on my plate for Christmas..

  40. Grace and TKW: I was wary the first time I made them, but they're nothing like fruit cake. We're safe!

    Bridgett: Never would have thought to make french toast or bread pudding out of fruitcake!

    George: You might like Bridgett's idea then!

    Kate: I wonder if the dried fruit would soften enough?

    Rebecca: Without the candied fruit.

    Rose and Bunny: They do taste delicious. Rather like shortbread.

    Ellie and Chocolaty: They make super Christmas cookies.

    Trissa and Anita: These are easy to make...make them when you have time and freeze them.

  41. The cookies look really good, but I am sad you don't like fruitcake. A lot of American bloggers seem to loathe it. Maybe you need to try a Scottish or English recipe, just to compare.

    Her is my mum's recipe and David has just made a Christmas Fruit Cake, that sounds delicious too.

  42. I like good friutcake around Christmas- It's tradition!

  43. Barbara, I've left you something over on my blog (she said mysteriously...)


  44. Hi Barbara,

    I wanted to wish you a belated Happy Birthday, I hope your day was as wonderful as you are.

    I've been so busy that I'm failing miserably at being a good blog buddy. I appreciate your visits and lovely comments!

    Thank you for the lovely recipe, I'm going to try and get some baking done this weekend. I have several of your recipes that I would love to try.

    Love and hugs,

  45. Jacqueline: Your recipes all use dried fruit, which I love. The old family recipe I have is all candied fruit and nuts.

    BD: Now wouldn't we be boring if we all liked the same things? You know I love ya anyway!

    Kate: Thanks so much! I will try to be a good girl for once and make the lists!

    Karyn: Thanks! You ARE a good blog buddy!

  46. Hi Barbara,

    Your cookies look yummy and I will try the recipe ~ thanks.
    I like a good fruit Christmas cake and have not made mine yet.
    The smells coming from the kitchen are lovely, my daughter made gingerbread cookies, which were delicious. I also like to make fruit mince pies, do you like these?

    Happy weekend

  47. MMMMMMMMMMM,...your cookies look so festive & excellent to me!!

    I so love adding dried fruits to my cookies as well!

  48. To the Aussies, Kiwis and Brits:

    The reason you hear Americans going "ewww" on the fruit cake is simple. It's an "across the pond, failure to communicate" thing. There's what ya'll call fruit cake and what WE call fruit cake.

    Your "fruit cakes" have raisins, and other DRIED fruit in them.

    OURS has some nasty "candied" fruit bits - who KNOWS what they actually are. I would assume that years ago, when people made their OWN dried or candied fruits, they tasted good. However, now adays, even "homemade" fruit cakes have commercially purchased "candied fruit" that goes into it. That stuff is NASTY. It's a harder-gummy substance, It's SUPPOSED to be bits of pineapple, citron or cherries - usually dyed in "Christmas colors". At least, that's what the labels on these plastic tubs of awfulness call them.

    We like the "cake" part, the nut part and most of us the raisin part of the cake. It's that blasted "fruit" that kills our wanting to eat it and makes us shudder!

    So to US, ewwwwww! YUCK! (Can you blame us?) Would you want this stuff foisted on you by either a)our elders - whom eat it for nostalgic reasons or b) people with NO tastebuds?

    YOUR fruit cake sounds GOOD!



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