Monday, December 26, 2005
Mondays with Maida - Christmas Fruitcake Bars
Page 97 in the old book / page 139 in the new book
I realize I am in the minority, but I like fruitcake. No, not those horrid plastic-like things sold in the grocery store (though, Whole Foods has a fruitcake that has sorely tempted me all season with apricots, prunes, and a couple of pounds of other dried fruits), but the one my Mom used to make every year and ration out in slim little slices. I admit that those tubs of neon-colored candied fruits sold for the purpose of making fruitcake hold less appeal for me now than they did in those days of blissful-ignorance many moons ago, but I still have a soft spot in my heart for fruitcake.
For most of the rest of the world, it seems that any variety of fruitcake is automatically regarded with deep suspicion. Consequently, this cookie came out of the gates with one big strike against it. In spite of that, all the cookie panelists and many others in my office gave them a chance and tasted them without too much arm-twisting. No one came away from the experience a fruitcake convert, but just about everyone commented to me that they liked the cookies much more than they expected to.
A small amount of thin, orange-scented batter holds together copious amounts of candied fruits, dates, raisins, and walnuts. Maida notes that candied cherries may be used, or a mixture of candied pineapple and candied cherries, or the prepared mixed fruits can be used. I used the mixed fruits (orange rind, lemon rind, citron, cherries, and pineapple). If you like fruitcake, you're bound to like these.
Here's the panel...
Suzanne: "I'm not a fan of fruitcake, but this was probably the best fruitcake I've had. The dates and loads of nuts saved this cake; and it was actually moist. Rating - 2.5"
Denny: "Very high potential. Should have liked it more, but tasted like fruitcake! Rating - 3.0"
Terri: "I don't usually care for fruitcake, but these are delicious. Not too fruity, but crunchy and sweet. Very moist and chewy with fruit pieces being just the right size. Rating - 4.0"
Phil: "While this lighter and powdery version is better than the traditional cake, it still triggers those longstanding questions about its remarkable shelf life - is there really only one cake that keeps getting passed around in different forms? Can a covering of cheesecloth doused with a good shot of brandy help revive it? Was it fruitcake that sustained a musher fighting a blizzard during a prior Iditarod competition? Rating - 3.0"
Overall rating by the panel - 3.1
Next week - Hermit Bars