Christmas is upon us and while I’m not a big Christmas baker I can’t let a holiday season pass me by without making these fruitcake bars! I actually posted about these two years ago but decided to revisit them. The photo on that old post doesn’t do these bars justice. It was before I discovered white balance. Before I knew about sharp images. Before I knew (a bit) about composition. And before I GOT MY CANON REBEL!!!! Yes, after posting my holiday wish list I became obsessed with the idea of having this camera. So one late night I was up writing a few “reports” and decided to um reward myself with the camera. I’m still learning how to use this thing but I’ll get there. Also, I still have a few posts with my old camera coming up so I won’t be fully “rebelized” for a little while.
So back to the bars… This is one of my fave desserts, period. I have this nasty habit of baking treats, eating them for a day or so and abandoning them leaving my mom to consume the rest. But there’s something in these bars that causes me to eat them until the pan is empty. I think the candied fruit is laced with crack, I really do. What makes me happy about the recipe is that it doesn’t require raisins. Sure I could omit them but I have respect for those that omit raisins where they would normally make an appearance. I don’t mess with raisins.
There’s even a rum frosting that goes with these bars but I never make it because the bars are good enough on their own. And believe me, I love things with lots of butter, rum and sugar.
If you’re looking for a last minute holiday treat to make these are a great festive option. They’re easy to transport, can last a few days without going wonky and what says Christmas like something reminiscent of fruitcake?
Next year I’d seriously like to consider candying my own fruit for this recipe. How hard can it be?
1 cup (250 mL) candied mixed peel
3/4 cup (175 mL) each coarsely chopped dried apricots and dried pears
3/4 cup (175 mL) coarsely chopped candied pineapple
2 tbsp (25 mL) chopped crystallized ginger
1/4 cup (50 mL) amber rum or brandy
1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp (4 mL) mace (or 1/4 tsp/1 mL ground nutmeg)
1/2 tsp (2 mL) each ground cinnamon and allspice
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
Pinch baking soda
1/2 cup (125 mL) butter, softened
1/2 cup (125 mL) packed brown sugar
2 tbsp (25 mL) liquid honey
1/2 tsp (2 mL) vanilla
3/4 cup (175 mL) coarsely chopped Brazil nuts
Rum butter Icing:
1/2 cup (125 mL) butter
2 cups (500 mL) icing sugar
4 tsp (20 mL) amber rum
In large bowl, combine mixed peel, apricots, pears, pineapple, ginger and rum; toss well. Cover and let stand for 24 hours, stirring occasionally.
In small bowl, whisk together flour, mace, cinnamon, allspice, salt and baking soda. In separate bowl, beat together butter, brown sugar and honey until fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time; beat in vanilla. Stir in flour mixture just until incorporated. Add fruit mixture and Brazil nuts; stir to combine. Scrape into 13- x 9-inch (3.5 L) metal cake pan lined with double layer of parchment paper.
Set shallow pan on bottom rack of 300°F (150°C) oven; pour in enough hot water to come halfway up sides. Bake bars on centre rack until cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean, 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Let cool in pan on rack; remove from pan and remove paper.
Rum Butter Icing: In bowl, beat together butter, icing sugar and rum until smooth; spread over bars. Trim edges. Cut crosswise into 6 bars. Cut each into 12 slices.
* Tip: To soak dried fruit quickly, toss with rum in microwaveable bowl. Then cover and microwave on medium-high for 1 to 2 minutes or until hot. Let cool, covered, until at room temperature, about 1 hour.
(Recipe from Canadian Living)
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