One of my favorite holiday traditions with my mom was starting our holiday baking the day after Thanksgiving. We always made spiced fruit cake cookies but we'd have to buy the ingredients over a few weeks so we could afford them. I remember the anticipation of watching the shelf fill up with the candied fruit: pineapple, cherries (yes, even the green ones) and how excited I was when we finally got the last ingredient. I still love those cookies... and they hold so many memories for me.
I know. You hate fruitcake. I'm pretty sure I don't like most of them but I promise you these gorgeous little fruitcake gems are so addictive and delicious, you will not want to wait a whole year to make them again. These are the same mugs we used for Christmas Eve cocoa way back then.
MOM'S HOLIDAY FRUITCAKE COOKIES
Makes about 6 dozen depending on how large you make them.
1 pound candied red cherries
1 pound candied pineapple
1 pound candied green cherries
6 cups pecans, roughly chopped
1 pound dates, chopped
2 tablespoons dark run (optional- but you need to up the orange juice if you omit)
3 cups plus 1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup Crisco shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
slight pinch kosher salt
3 teaspoons baking soda
3 tablespoons milk
4 eggs (room temperature)
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 teaspoon nutmeg
The day before: chop the dates into small pieces and put them in a glass bowl. Add rum. Cover with plastic wrap. Let sit overnight to absorb the rum. You can leave this step out if you want but I find it makes the dates more delicious and the cookies have more flavor.
Preheat oven to 375. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper. Get out 2-3 cooling racks.
Dice the candied fruit into small pieces and place in a very large bowl; I use the top of my cake carrier. Roughly chop the pecans and add to the fruit. Add the dates. Add one cup of the flour. Toss well to coat all of the pieces and break them up so they are not sticking together.
Next, whisk the baking soda into the milk and let it dissolve.
Mix the Crisco into the fruit. Add the remaining ingredients: sugar, remaining flour, salt, nutmeg, eggs, orange juice and milk with baking soda into the mixture. Mix together with your hands but just until you no longer see the flour. Try not to over mix. The batter will be very dense. Use a small ice cream scoop or two teaspoons to drop the cookies onto the prepared pans, about 1 inch apart.
Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on the wire cooling racks.