Friday, December 01, 2006

Fruitcake Fantasy

These are my Fruitcake Squares from the Sweet Maria's Cookie Jar cookbook. I understand she has quite a following.

My mother loves fruitcake. I have shown her some of the about 40 fruitcake recipes in my various cookbooks, but none were like her mother's recipe. My Irish Grandmother of course rarely wrote down recipes. I will be making her Depression cake for my folks and other relatives for the holidays, but I wanted to do some kind of fruitcake. No one in my family likes citrus or many nuts. These cookies are easy and have the best ingredients of fruitcake.

One year, my Grandmother spent all her budgeted amount on fruitcake ingredients and made them, only to have them go bad somehow. (This story, while sad, always makes me feel a bit better about my own cooking adventures.) She had no more money for gifts that year. My Mother said she was upset for a long time.

The Fruitcake squares are one of 4 cookies I made for my cookie exchange last weekend. My friends and I raised over $65 for the local food pantry through paying for each other's recipes.

I have a lot of updating to do here:
1. I did finish my article, after reading 3 mysteries in one day. I have spent the past week reading romances, where no one dies. I'm currently reading Smitten, an old Evanovich. I also read Sleeping with the Fishes by MaryJanice Davidson. Both of these read exactly like their other books, but sometimes you need that.
2. Thanksgiving was lovely for 20 of my relatives and me. Two turkeys, catered side dishes, the Spritz cookies were gone in a flash and various other unhealthy delicious foods.
3. For my birthday this week, my husband and I took the day off and went antiquing. I have to admit I purchased 35 cookbooks! Most were under $2 and all were under $5. Many were on my missing want to have titles, including 20 from a set. I just barely have room here for them and may have to clean out my husband's closet to make more. I also bought another cookie press, with some truly odd shapes. More on this soon.
4. When I returned to work, I discovered that an entire xeroxed cokbook from the Daughters of Civil War Veterans was in my box. A great co-worker in the ILL department has been trying to get me rare cookbooks. This one is fabulous. It has an entire section on how to keep a husband and not to "prod him with a sharp object or keep him too close to the fire". Seriously. I may have to scan that entire passage in here.

As we are all trapped in the house under 12 inches of snow today, I sense there will be a lot of baking. Good thing I ran out to the store last night and purchased red and green swirled chocolate chips and eggs. I did get milk and bread too, but what's really important?

Fruitcake Squares

1 ½ sticks butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 eggs
1 ¼ cups flour
2 cups glace cherries (red and green)
2 cups chopped walnuts (optional)
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13X9-inch baking pan. In an electric mixer on medium speed, cream butter and sugar until light. Add vanilla and eggs. Mix until well blended. On low speed, add flour, cherries (I chopped them first and had my fingers stick together many times - candied cherries can also work as a glue...), and nuts. Spread dough into prepared pan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove pan from the oven. Let cool completely on a wire cooling rack. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Cut into squares. Store in an airtight container at room temperature (didn't do that they didn't last that long...). Makes 24 squares.

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