Friday, December 17, 2010

Fruitcake Cookies aka "Lizzies"

Fruitcake is a mixture of fruits and nuts with just enough batter to hold everything together. Many versions are drenched in liquor, typically brandy or rum, which prevents molding and as a result allows the cake to be kept for a long period of time. The beauty of fruitcake is that you can change up the fruits and nuts to your liking. 

No food elicits as much horror as fruitcake around the holidays. Most people associate it with a hard, dry brick; a gift passed around and re-gifted for years. Truth be told, I've had my fair share of bad fruitcake, but years ago, I tried my first ever fruitcake cookie (also sometimes called a "Christmas Lizzy" here) and fell in love. It was soft, chewy and densely packed with fruits and nuts. 

My version does not contain any alcohol, so it's fine for the kids (though I DO have a version with alcohol and it contains a LOT). Packed with candied cherries, dates and pecans, these always seem to go over well at holiday gatherings. It's also an easy recipe, and one that kids will love "helping" with. 

Fruitcake Cookies
adapted from Suite101

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract (optional)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup chopped candied red cherries
1/2 cup chopped candied green cherries

I forgot to include the vanilla and almond extracts in the picture...

Who ever thought of making GREEN cherries?

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat.

Cream the butter and brown sugar together in a large mixing bowl until blended. Add egg, vanilla and almond extract and beat well to combine.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a medium mixing bowl. 

Alternate adding the flour mixture and the buttermilk to the creamed butter mixture and beat well. 

Mix in the cinnamon and nutmeg. Fold in the pecans, dates and candied cherries until evenly distributed. 

The batter will be VERY thick. 

Drop dough by rounded teaspoons onto prepared sheet. 

They don't have to look perfect to taste good.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Cool on a wire rack and then store in an airtight container.

Go ahead and reward yourself with a warm cookie - you've earned it!

This recipe yields 2 dozen cookies, but I make them pretty big; you could probably get 3 dozen by just making the cookies a little bit smaller. 


  1. Lovely Christmassy colours. thanks for linking it in to Food on Friday, Julia. Cheers

  2. Julia, these look amazing! I'm wanting to make these tomorrow but I don't keep buttermilk on hand. Would whole milk or 2% milk be OK to use in this recipe? Thank you in advance for your help.

    1. Absolutely! Also, if you have any vinegar, just add 1/2 Tbsp to your 1/2 cup of milk, let it sit 5 min, and you've got buttermilk (well, technically you've got sour milk)! I actually do this all the time :)

  3. I have been searching for a fruitcake cookie recipe, and did not felt a connection until now with yours. I will baking them for my kids school teachers. Thank you.
    Aimee B.

    1. I hope they are well-liked by the teachers!

  4. this is VERY similar to our family recipe, except that ours contains bourbon. Love these, and can't wait to make them again this year. I've skipped a few years recently.

    1. I've made these with bourbon before, but usually the kids really seem to like them, so I have to leave it out. Oh well, more bourbon for sippin'!

  5. Thank you for sharing!!! It is so close to cookies we had growing up and never knew how to make!! They were a huge hit for Christmas!!!

    1. Yay! I'm so glad everyone enjoyed them - hope you had a Merry Christmas!!

    2. Hi Julia, Thanks for posting your receipe. I have been making my version of these cookies for 30 years. I recd the recipe from a frnd Jeanine Howard who passed shortly after giving me the recipe, I make them every year at Christmas and think of her. You are correct about people not caring much for "Fruitcake", but people sure do love these cookies. Im so happy to have found your recipe because I want to compare recipes so I can improve upon mine. One difference that stands out immediately is that my recipe uses both Candied Pineapple and Candied Cherries. 16oz of the Pineapple and 8oz of the Cherries. It also asks for Rum, but I've never used it. I can not imagine the cookies without the pineapple. If I use the red cherries I will use green food coloring on the pineapple.. and vice versa..if I have only the green cherries, I will use red food coloring on the pineapple--in the end I make an even amount of the the green and the red. The biggest task of using the pineapple is the choppin into smaller pieces. Please try your recipe with the Pineapple and the Cherries & see how you like it. Thank You so much for posting your recipe along with the great photos, These truly are wonderfully delicious and unique cookies at Christmas time.. Rita in Houston,Tx

    3. That sounds delicious, Rita! I'll be sure to keep your tips in mind the next time I make these cookies!

  6. Have you ever heard of using sour cream instead of buttermilk? We will make your recipe today. I am so glad I found this because I forgot my recipe. Thanks, you saved Christmas!

  7. Can sour cream be used instead of buttermilk? These look just like the ones I make, but I think I use sour cream? I left my recipe at home. You saved my son in laws Christmas. He loves these!

  8. Wish there was a way to print the recipe without printing all the pictures. Just love the idea of these cookies, but hate taking the ipad into the kitchen for recipes. One of these days, more food will end up on the ipad than on the cookie sheet.