Today’s cookie comes from the family of a dear friend who passed away this year. She made them for us last year and I’ve been thinking about them all year. I finally asked her sister if it was a family recipe, and it turns out that it is and she graciously shared it with me. I’ve adapted them to gluten-free and have offered the option of a mix of dried fruit in the place of the candied cherries if that is to your taste.
These cookies, originally called Fruit Drops, are basically a lovely bit of fruitcake in cookie form. After spending this year writing my holiday baking book, I feel like I’ve become a bit of an expert on all things fruitcake and dried fruit oriented. These cookies have the best parts of a fruitcake (including the booze) and are bite-sized for easy eating. Even Girlfriend, who claims to hate fruitcake (don’t tell her that our Country Christmas Cake is a fruitcake), but loves these.
If you are inclined to share them, these are perfect for inclusion on the Santa cookie plate!
Fruit Drops (aka Fruitcake Cookies), Gluten-Free
Yield: about 4 dozen, depending on the size you make
Note: This recipe uses my flour mix, Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix (mix together and store in a cool, dark place, or in fridge for long-term storage). 1 cup of this mix equals 140 g. Use this mix cup-for-cup or gram-for-gram in all of your recipes:
1 1/4 cups (170 g) brown rice flour
1 1/4 cups (205 g) white rice flour
1 cup (120 g) tapioca flour
1 cup (165 g) sweet rice flour (also known as glutinous rice flour, or under the brand name, Mochiko)
2 scant tsp. xanthan gum
1 3/4 cups (245 g) Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour mix
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick; 115 g) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (215 g) brown sugar (I like dark)
1 extra-large egg, room temperature
1/4 cup (60 ml) brandy (or apple juice)
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 cup (160 g) candied cherries (or dried mixed fruit)
1 cup (160 g) chopped dates
In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, using a large spoon, beat together butter and brown sugar until smooth. Add the egg and beat until combined and smooth. Add the brandy, beat until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat until combined. Add the pecans, cherries, and dates and mix until combined. The dough will be quite stiff.
Cover with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for about 1 hour.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees F/190 degrees C/Gas Mark 5. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Remove cookie dough from refrigerator. Here’s where you get to choose the size of your cookies. Remove either teaspoon or tablespoon-sized pieces of dough, and use your hand roll dough into balls and place on cookie sheet, at least 1 inch apart. With your fingers, press each ball lightly to flatten a bit. Alternately, you can leave in ball form for a more rounded cookie.
Bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes. The longer you bake the cookies, the more crunchy they will be. Do not overbake.
Remove from oven and place cookies on a wire rack to cool.
Store in an airtight container for up to 7 days.