Yesterday we stopped by the grocery store as we ran our errands. I picked up a package of mint chocolate chips because they reminded me of my grandmother who loved them so much and a package of Andes peppermint chips.
Back at the house, as my sister-in-law, her grown daughter, and my spouse looked at family pictures and documents, I made cookies. It felt very cozy.
I gave some of them to a friend who said that the cookies are so delicious that I should write about food. But I simply followed the recipe on the back of the package. Because I'm lazy, I made bar cookies instead of the round kind.
I wonder how often our cooking/baking experiences is a matter of simply following the recipe. I thought about my experience of making fruitcake before Christmas.
I had bought a variety of dried fruit when I thought I would make bread for All Saints Day. I know that dried fruit will keep for a long time, but I also don't have much storage space.
My spouse loves fruitcake, and for years I've wanted to try making one in our kitchen. In The Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts, I found a recipe that I thought would work. I wanted a cake that we could eat right away. I didn't want to keep it in a cask for months while I watered it with brandy. I don't have that kind of time.
Readers, it was delicious. I would make it again. I like to think it's slightly healthier than many desserts, with its fruit and lower fat (only three tablespoons of butter or oil in a dessert!). And it's fragrant--the house smells like Christmas the next morning. And it stayed good for the following week when we kept the slices in a zip-lock bag.
Italian Fruitcake (which tastes like U.S. fruitcake)
3 C. dried fruit (I used a combination of ginger, mango, cranberries, dates, and pineapple)
3/4 red wine (apple cider for those avoiding alcohol)
3T. butter or olive oil
1/2 C. honey
grated orange or lemon peel would be nice too, but I didn't feel like grating
Combine the above ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 3-4 minutes and then set aside, off the heat.
Preheat oven to 350. As the oven preheats, toast the nuts (see below) and 2 slices of bread for breadcrumbs.
Combine the following in a big bowl:
1/2 C. almonds, toasted and chopped
1/2 C. walnuts, toasted and chopped
2 C. flour
1 C. toasted bread crumbs
1 C. brown sugar
the recipe calls for 1/2 C. chocolate chips, which I didn't use
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. baking soda (I am just realizing that I used baking powder--it worked fine)
Add the fruit mixture and combine until all of the dry ingredients are moistened. I had to add a bit of water.
Put the batter into a greased springform pan or a bundt pan.
Bake for 60 to 70 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then remove from bundt pan or release the side of the springform pan.