Tobias Eichner, Wikimedia Commons.
Fruit preserves make delicious fillings for thumbprint or sandwich-type cookies. Apricot or raspberry are favorites.
I love fresh fruit, but when it comes to dried fruit, I really have to watch myself lest I eat far too much of it.
Not only does dried fruit taste good as a snack, we all know it really adds a special touch to our holiday baking. Raisins get used a lot all throughout the year, but let’s explore some recipes that call for fruitcake mix, dates, mangoes, pineapple, cherries and even more. Oh, and one recipe that calls for preserves.
I hope you are all managing to stay safe and warm as winter weather takes its place on the stage. Watch out on those foggy days and always be on the lookout for ice when out on the roads. Enjoy your holiday baking time.
Apricot filled cookies
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 package (8-oz.) cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
4 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup apricot preserves
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, for decoration
1. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the lemon juice and lemon zest.
2. In another bowl, combine the flour and baking powder; stir into the cream cheese mixture just until combines. Cover and chill until firm, about 1 hour.
3. Preheat oven to 350. Roll tablespoons of dough into balls and place them 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Using your finger, make an indentation in the center of each ball and fill with 1/2 teaspoon apricot preserves.
4. Bake in preheated oven 15 minutes or until edges are golden. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheets for 2 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chopped dates
1 cup candied fruit (red or green cherries, pineapple, citrus peels, citron)
1. Preheat oven to 325. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and brown sugar. Add egg, vanilla and almond extract and beat well to combine.
2. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a mixing bowl. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the buttermilk to the creamed butter mixture and beat well.
3. Fold in the pecans, dates, and candied fruits so they are evenly distributed in the batter. Drop batter onto cookie sheet lined with baking mat or parchment. Rounded tablespoons will result in 24 to 36 cookies. Cool on wire rack.
Fruit and nut bars
1 1/2 cups chopped nuts (you can use pecans, hazelnuts, pistachios, or almonds or a combination thereof)
1/2 cup dried cherries, cranberries, raisins and/or currants
1 cup dates, figs, and/or prunes, chopped
1/2 cup dried apricots, mango, and/or papaya, cut into bite-size pieces
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips or chunks
1/3 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1. Preheat oven to 325 and place the rack in the center of oven. Have ready an 8-inch-square baking pan that has been lined across the bottom and up the two opposite sides with foil.
2. In a large bowl, combine the chopped nuts with the dried fruits and chocolate chips. Then add the flour, baking soda, salt and sugar and stir until all the fruit and nuts are completely coated with the flour mixture. Make sure to separate any clumps of dried fruits.
3. In a separate bowl, beat (with a wire whisk or hand mixer) the egg and vanilla until light colored and thick (this will take several minutes). Add the egg mixture to the fruit and nut mixture and mix until all the fruit and nut pieces are completely coated with the batter. Evenly spread into your prepared pan, pressing to compact the batter.
4. Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes, or until the batter is golden brown and is just starting to pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Then lift the bars from the pan using the edges of the foil. Use a sharp knife to cut into squares or bars. Can be stored for about 10 days at room temperature or longer if refrigerated. Makes 18 2.5 inch rectangular bars.
16 ounces pitted dates, chopped
2/3 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts*
* You may substitute your favorite type of nuts
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup lightly-packed brown sugar
1 cup white granulated sugar
4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1. For filling: In a large saucepan over medium heat, add chopped dates, water, sugar and walnuts; cook until sugar is melted and mixture is hot. Remove from heat and let stand until mixture cools to lukewarm before spreading on the dough.
2. For dough: Preheat oven to 400. Lightly grease baking sheets. Prepare filling and keep mixture lukewarm. In a large mixing bowl, using a kitchen mixer on medium speed, combine butter, brown sugar and white granulated sugar until creamy. Add eggs and beat until mixture is smooth and light yellow in color.
3. In a separate bowl, sift flour, salt and baking soda together. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, a little at a time until the mixture is creamy.
4. On a lightly floured surface and using a lightly-floured rolling pin, roll the dough into an oblong shape approximately 9-by-13-inches or larger (dough should be about 1/8-inch thick). If you have refrigerated the dough, bring to room temperature before rolling. Carefully spread the warm filling onto the top of the dough. Try to cover the entire surface, especially out to the edges. Starting with the long side, roll the dough up into a long tube shape. Wrap the tube of dough in waxed paper or plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours, until firm.
5. When ready to bake, remove chilled dough from refrigerator and, using a sharp knife, cut into 1/4-inch cookie slices. Place slices on prepared baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Bake in preheated oven 7 to 10 minutes, until light golden brown.
6. Remove from oven and remove from baking sheets onto wire cooling racks. (Note: In between baking, extra dough should be returned to the refrigerator to stay firm. Also, dipping the knife in flour can make slicing the dough smoother.