Monday, December 10, 2012

Hazelnut Fruitcake Bars

12 Days of Christmas Cookies Day 6! Fruitcake is a pretty scary thing here in the US. When I went to England for Christmas the first time, I really began to enjoy how good fruitcake can be. Fruitcake doesn’t have to be huge chunks of artificially dyed, super sweet candied fruit. In fact, when we make fruitcake now, we don’t use any candied fruits at all. We just use dried fruits and they make a really wonderful cake. 

These bar cookies have some of the flavors of fruitcake but aren’t as heavy, or perhaps as scary as you might think fruitcake could be. They just use dates and pineapple, paired with hazelnuts (my favorite!). The recipe called for candied pineapple but I opted to use dried pineapple as that is sweet enough. I also don’t tend to have candied fruit on hand at home. I wanted to make these even more fruitcake-like, so I decided to add a glaze. Typical fruitcake you soak in brandy and let it age, so I wanted to add a bit of that element. I ended up making the glaze with powdered sugar and hazelnut liqueur. It was a nice touch. Not for the kids though!

These bake up in no time, and they are the perfect cookie to bake early in the holiday season as they keep for quite a while. If you buy chopped dates they would be even easier, as I think pitting and chopping dates is one of the stickiest tasks ever. The original recipe didn’t call for the pan to be lines with foil, but I think that makes cutting bar cookies so much easier and you don’t have to pry them out of the pan. If you’re afraid of fruitcake, I hope you give these a try. You might discover that fruitcake isn’t so bad after all!

Hazelnut Fruitcake Bars
2 eggs
¾ cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup chopped hazelnuts
1 cup chopped dates
1 cup chopped candied or dried pineapple
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk or liqueur

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-inch square pan with foil and spray the foil with cooking spray.

In a large mixer bowl, beat the eggs until light and fluffy. Add the brown sugar and beat until combined. Add the vanilla, hazelnuts, dates, and pineapple and stir until combined. Add the flour and baking powder and stir just until incorporated.

Spread the dough into the prepared pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

Make the glaze: in a small bowl combine the powdered sugar and enough liquid to make a glaze of thick consistency, similar to the consistency of honey. Lift the foil out of the pan and peel it away. Cut into squares and drizzle with the glaze.

Recipe from Pillsbury Christmas Baking

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