Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Fruit Cake Bars
To start the year right, I offer you -- fruit cake bars -- these are sweet, so that you can always look forward to a good and nice and sweet year ahead. These are full of fruits, so that your year may be "fruitful" or bountiful. The taste is mellow, so that you may have a peaceful year ahead.
This recipe is far, far different from the traditional heavy and dense fruit cake. It tastes like fruit cake, with fruits soaked in liquor, but the texture is softer and lighter, and a bit crumbly and moist, just the way we like it. Daughter was crestfallen when she learned that I was giving most of the pieces away (boxed as Christmas gifts) to friends. But of course I made several batches and there were lots of leftovers :) for her to enjoy.
I got the recipe from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine.
1 C unsalted butter, room temperature
2 C all purpose flour
1/2 t salt
1 C brandy
5 cups assorted dried fruits (I used raisins, dried mangoes, dried jackfruit, dried cranberries, dried apricots
2 C packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 t pure vanilla extract
confectioner's sugar, for dusting
1. In a saucepan, heat brandy until simmering. Remove from heat and stir in fruits. Cool to room temperature. Toss brandied fruits with 1 C flour.
2. Preheat oven to 350F. Brush a 9 x 13 baking pan with butter. Line with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on the two sides.
3. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in vanilla.
4. With the mixer on low, add in the remaining 1 C flour, and salt. Mix until just combined. Fold in fruit mixture, transfer batter to prepared pan. Smooth top.
5. Bake 45 to 50 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool in pan for 1 hour.
6. Using the paper overhang, lift out of the pan, transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
7. Remove paper. Dust with confectioner's sugar. Cut into squares with a serrated knife.
Dried fruits are the main feature of these cake bars. Drying the fruits preserves the fruits, even without refrigeration, thus prolonging their shelf life. However, I think many people enjoy dried fruits because of the flavor. Since they are dehydrated, the fruit flavor becomes more intense. Like fresh fruits, dried fruits still has their Vitamin B and mineral content. However, vitamin C is usually lost in the drying process.
You can actually use a variety of dried fruits, in any flavor and in any combination you prefer for your fruit cake bars. Just have a total of 5 cups of assorted fruits. At the beginning, I thought it was way too much, but it turned out just right. If you noticed, I added lots of dried mangoes and dried jackfruit. These two fruits added the tropical touch to my fruit cake bars. Philippines is of course famous for our dried mangoes. It is often brought as a pasalubong (welcome gift) to friends and families abroad.
Sharing these delightful fruit bars to the Weekend Herb Blogging community, created by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen, but now headed by Haalo of Cook (Almost) Anything at Least Once. This week's host is Pam from the Backyard Pizzeria. To see last week's delicious herbs and dishes, please see the round-up done by Haalo here.