christmas bonus: bourbon pecan fruitcake bites

Like many folks, I have never been a fan of the traditional fruitcake.  Ridiculed for its brick-like appearance and studded with unnatural glossy green and red “fruits,” it never really tasted any better than it looked.

mini fruitcakes | sagebrousseau.com

Why does fruitcake have such a bum rap? Generally speaking, fruitcake is just a mixture of brandied fruits and nuts with a spiced batter to hold them together… sounds delicious, where did this holiday treat go awry? Since I enjoy reveling in Christmastime traditions, and fruitcake being among the most time-honored, I am determined to make a more palatable recipe!

Despite the fact that this is a dessert composed mainly of nuts and fruits, it is not technically a health-food. However, I did shop my favorite local natural-foods store for the necessary ingredients: dried fruits and nuts. I had all the other tasty ingredients already in my kitchen: butter, eggs, sugar… and bourbon, of course.

Bourbon Pecan Fruit Cake Bites bourbon pecan fruit cake bites | sagebrousseau.com

Yield 24

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups diced mixed dried fruits (I used dates, cranberries, and crystallized ginger– you could also try apples, apricots or golden raisins)
  • ¾ cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • ¾ cup bourbon
  • ¼ cup butter, room temperature
  • 6 Tbls. brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ¾ to 1 cup flour
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon

Soak nuts and an dried fruits (omit crystallized ginger, if using) in bourbon for 8 hours. Preheat oven to 325º Cream butter and sugar with an electric beater until light and fluffy, add egg and beat. In another bowl, whisk flour, salt and cinnamon. Reduce speed on mixer and add flour mixture. Batter should be thick. Using a slotted spoon, transfer fruits (including ginger) and nuts to the batter, fold into batter with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. If batter appears dry you may add some of the left over bourbon a teaspoon at a time.

Line mini-muffin pan with paper liners, use a measured scoop to fill each with a rounded teaspoon of batter. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out cleanly and the cakes are a light golden brown.

bourbon fruitcake bites | sagebrousseau.com

Because of the alcohol content, fruitcake may be stored (covered in the refrigerator) for up to one month, but these are so tasty, I don’t think that will be a problem! Happy Holidays.

perfect holiday charcuterie in only five steps

So it’s the holiday season, and you’re either hosting this year or have been asked to contribute something to the celebration or meal, have you thought about a charcuterie and cheese plate? Get the perfect plate in just five easy steps.

charcuterie and cheese plate | sagebrousseau.com

#1: Select your cheeses. To make it easier, pick from these categories: soft, semi-soft, semi-hard, and hard (bonus points for something smoked). Seems simple enough– I went with Brie, Blue Cheese, Manchego, Aged Cheddar, and Smoked Gouda– sure to please any crowd.

charcuterie and cheese plate | sagebrousseau.com

#2: The vehicle. This is generally crackers or some crusty bread. Done.

#3: Something sweet. Fresh fruits like grapes, or apples are a no-brainer, you could also try fresh figs, or dried fruits like apricots, pears and cranberries. Honey is another great option, I love a slice of Manchego drizzled with a bit of honey– yum!

charcuterie and cheese plate | sagebrousseau.com

#4: Something savory. Salted nuts or olives are always a nice addition to your cheese plate. But pickles, like cornishons, are my all-time favorite.

#5: Meat. We’re talking cured meats here, like Prosciutto or Salami. How about Sopressata or Bresaola?

If you’re still having a hard time choosing, or you don’t want to go it alone, check out the selection from Sid Wainer & Son or their cheese collections available at Costco.com.

Happy yummy holidays!