It starts with soaking the dried fruit and nuts in bourbon, but you can use rum or brandy. Some years we have used Maker's Mark (favourite) or Jim Beam bourbon; other years it's been Appleton Estate rum or Asbach. Next year I want to try using Spice Box Whiskey. In the original recipe, the fruit was soaked for one hour, and only in 1/2 a cup of alcohol. But dad over the years has increased the liquor to a full cup and lets the fruit sit covered for up to seven days; tossing the fruit in the liquid every other day. By the end of a week or so, the fruit has soaked up all of the liquid. This means the fruit will remain moist during the baking, and then help to keep the cookies soft.
These are a great cookie for making early in the Christmas season. They keep well and are excellent for packing and shipping. The recipe makes quite a few (7 to 8 dozen), so we often freeze half the batch and take them out as needed (or craved) throughout the new year. Christmas cookies in July? why not !
Dad's Boozie Fruit Cookies
3 cup seedless raisins
4 cup pecan halves
1 ¼ cup citron, diced
4 cup candied cherries, chopped
1 cup bourbon, dark or spiced rum or brandy
¼ cup butter or margarine, room temperature
½ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed; plus 2 Tbsp
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ground nutmeg
1 ½ cup all purpose flour
In a large sized bowl or other airtight container with a lid that seals, combine the raisins, pecans, citron and cherries. Pour the liquor over the fruit mixture and toss to thoroughly coat. Seal the container. Set in a cool location out of the way. Each day for a week or so, remove the lid and stir the mixture. (Or you can do what my dad does, which is to just pick it up and shake it so that the liquid re-coats the fruit. . . Be sure the lid is on tight!). When there is little to no liquid remaining, the mixture is ready.
Sift together the flour, baking soda and spices. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the softened butter or margarine until light and fluffy. Add in the light brown sugar and continue to beat until well blended. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.
Add the flour mixture and continue blending until smooth. Fold in the fruit mixture. There is not a lot of batter-to-fruit ratio in these cookies, so don't be alarmed if the batter seems really lumpy. It's supposed to be.
Drop by teaspoon onto prepared baking sheets. Bake in a pre-heated slow oven at 325 degrees F for about 15 minutes, or until firm. Remove from oven and transfer to wire cooling racks. Allow to cook completely before storing in an airtight container.
If you have fans of Christmas fruit cake in your family or friends, then these are certainly going to be a hit for you. They pack all the flavours but without the heavy density sometimes found in the traditional cake. My nephew has been known to polish off a half dozen cookies in one sitting. But then he's going on 15 and 6'3" tall.
Enjoy and Happy Holidays !
(shown clockwise from top are Lemon Poppyseed Shortbread, Chocolate Crinkles, Vanilla Chocolate Thumbprints and Dad's Boozie Fruit Cookies)