Sadie’s Fruitcake

I can’t tell you why fruitcake gets a bad rap. Maybe I haven’t eaten a bad one. I can tell you that I could eat this one every day. I’m really proud of it. A blogger friend of mine, Natascha of Natascha’s Palace, made a fruitcake challenge and I accepted. I’ve tweaked this cake to perfection, if I do say so myself. It’s a little sugar, spice and everything nice (with less emphasis on spice or heavy on the everything). This fruitcake is dense and moist and outright delicious. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

As organic as possible:

3 cups flour

1 Tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup chopped pecans

1 1/3 cup chopped dates, pitted

1/3 cup dried cherries

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1/3 cup raisins

1/3 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut

2 cups sugar

1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)

4 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp almond extract

1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat oven to 325°. Grease and flour a 10 cup tube or angel food pan. (Do yourself a favor and do not choose a decorative bundt cake pan, trust me on this one.) Set aside.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a large a bowl. Gently toss the pecans and walnuts in the flour mixture. Next add the dates. I like to toss these carefully (a few at a time) in the flour nut mixture because they are the stickiest. Once the chopped dates are coated with the flour mixture, add the cherries, cranberries, regular and golden raisins, and coconut. Gently toss until all fruit is lightly coated with flour mixture.

In a separate bowl or in a stand mixer, cream butter. Add sugar and beat with the butter until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated. Add vanilla, almond extract and lemon juice. Mix well.

Add the dry ingredients, a scoop full at a time to creamed butter mixture, until all is combined. (I like to mix this part by hand, to not over-mix.) The batter will be very thick (like the consistency of  a thick drop cookie). Spoon the batter in the prepared pan, and gently even out the top with the back of the spoon or spatula.

Bake the cake for 1 1/2  hours. Remove cake from oven and let cool for about 15 minutes. Using a knife, loosen the edges of the cake and place onto cooling rack to cool completely before serving.


Best Cookie Bars Ever and Tips for Making Them Great

You are probably familiar with cookie bars, from Magic to 7 layer. I don’t discriminate against cookie bars, I love them all. They are my fall back, go to, SOP (Standard Operating Procedure; my husband is an engineer) for every event all year round. For my very knit close group of friends, who get together regularly, we often bring a dish to impromptu gatherings. I go straight to the cookie bars. They never let me down.

As organic as possible:

1/2 cup (1 stick) Butter

9 Graham crackers, full sheets (I like Annie’s Organic)

14 oz Sweetened condensed milk (1 can or Trader Joe’s organic bottle)

1/2 cup Crunchy peanut butter

1 tsp Vanilla

1/2 cup Coconut

1 cup Chocolate chips

1 cup Chopped hazelnuts

Okay, here’s the drill. Preheat the oven to 325º for a glass pan, 350º for metal. In a ziplock or mortar and pestle type set up, smash the graham crackers until fine crumbs. Place the stick of butter in a 13X9 baking dish and let melt in the oven. Continue to leave in the oven a couple more minutes until browned (not burned). In the mean time, in a sauce pan over medium-low heat, warm condensed milk, peanut butter and vanilla just until smooth. Remove from heat. When butter is a little browned and bubbly, (using oven safe gloves or hot pads) remove the dish from the oven and move around, letting melted butter coat the whole bottom of the pan. Add the crumbs to the butter making an even layer. Press down gently using your hands or the bottom of a glass. Pour condensed milk mixture over the graham cracker crust and gently smooth to make it even. Sprinkle the coconut flakes over the milky peanut butter. Scatter the chocolate chips evenly over the coconut. Sprinkle chopped nuts on the top of the chocolate. Carefully pat the toppings down. Bake 25 minutes, until lightly browned. Let cool, cut into squares and serve.

Tip #1 Use good ingredients! I love Annie’s Organic Graham Crackers, they are sweet and perfect all by themselves.

Tip #2 Use Salted Butter! For this recipe, a salty bite on the crust is what you need.

Tip #3 Brown your butter! It just adds that je ne sais quoi.

Tip #4 Use crunchy peanut butter! We are building layers of texture and flavor here, it all matters.

Tip #5 A little coconut goes along way. Too much does not make it better in this case!

Tip #6 Use milk chocolate! Everybody likes milk chocolate.

Tip #7 Hazelnuts have a great crunch! (chopped peanuts are the next best thing) And great bars have crunch.

Tip #8 Layer bars are best served at room temperature. It allows all of the flavors to shine.

Tip #9 Share! Because something this good should be had by all.