By Sage Brousseau.
Like many folks, I have never been a fan of the traditional fruitcake. Ridiculed for its brick-like appearance and studded with unnatural glossy green and red “fruits,” it never really tasted any better than it looked. Generally speaking, fruitcake is just a mixture of brandied fruits and nuts with a spiced batter to hold them together… sounds delicious, where did this holiday tradition go awry?
Why does fruitcake get such a bad rep? Today, I will change the popular opinion. Despite the fact that this is a dessert composed mainly of nuts and fruits, it is not technically a health-food. However, I did shop my favorite local natural-foods store, Good Health, for the necessary ingredients: dried fruits and nuts. I had all the other tasty ingredients already in my kitchen: butter, eggs, sugar… and bourbon.
Bourbon Pecan Fruit Cake Bites
3 cups diced mixed dried fruits (I used dates, cranberries, and crystallized ginger– you could also try apples, apricots or golden raisins)
¾ cup chopped pecans, toasted
¾ cup bourbon
¼ cup butter, room temperature
6 Tbls. brown sugar
1 large egg
¾ to 1 cup flour
¾ tsp. salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
Soak nuts and and dried fruits (omit crystallized ginger, if using) in bourbon for 8 hours. Preheat oven to 325º Cream butter and sugar with an electric beater until light and fluffy, add egg and beat. In another bowl, whisk flour, salt and cinnamon. Reduce speed on mixer and add flour mixture. Batter should be thick. Using a slotted spoon, transfer fruits (including ginger) and nuts to the batter, fold into batter with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. If batter appears dry you may add some of the left over bourbon a teaspoon at a time.
Line mini-muffin pan with paper liners, use a measured scoop to fill each with a rounded teaspoon of batter. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out cleanly and the cakes are a light golden brown.
Because of the alcohol content, fruitcake may be stored (covered in the refrigerator) for up to one month, but these are so tasty, I don’t think that will be a problem!
Sage Brousseau is a photographer, gardening dabbler, and lover of local art and local food. Born and raised in Massachusetts, she’s called the South Shore home for over 10 years. Sage shows her photography in the Boston area with recent exhibits at Panopticon Gallery, Atlantic Wharf Gallery, and the Dillon Gallery at the South Shore Arts Center in Cohasett. www.sagebrousseau.com