MUCH BETTER THAN FRUITCAKE BARS
Cookies to Die For!
by Bev Shaffer
Honestly, I hate fruitcake . . . but a collection of quality dried fruits, soaked in brandy in a brown-sugar-laced bar is hard to resist!
Makes 36 bars.
• 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature plus additional, melted, for brushing foil
• 1 cup brandy
• 1 cup seedless raisins
• 1 cup dried apricots, snipped into pieces
• 1 cup dried cranberries
• 1 cup pitted dates, snipped into pieces
• 1 cup dried cherries, snipped into pieces
• 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
• 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
• 3 large eggs
• 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
• 2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, divided
• 1/2 tsp. salt
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13x9" baking pan with foil; gently brush foil with melted butter; set aside.
Heat the brandy to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Toss in the raisins, apricots, cranberries, dates, and cherries; cover. Remove from heat and let dried fruits absorb some of the brandy, about 1 hour.
Using an electric mixer, in a large bowl, beat together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl.
Add eggs and vanilla, beating until well blended. Mix in 1 cup of the flour and the salt, stirring just until blended.
Remove the soaked fruit mixture (with any remaining liquid) to a medium bowl. Toss the remaining 1 cup of flour with the dried fruit mixture, tossing gently until combined.
Add this mixture to the bar batter, then spoon into prepared pan.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or just until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 1 hour in pan, then, using foil to gently lift out of pan, transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
When cool, invert and peel off foil, then flip upright onto a cutting board. Cut into 36 bars.