Friday, December 18, 2020

Fruitcake Icebox Cookies


Fruitcake Icebox Cookies (Source: Maida Heatter's Cookies (Andrews & McMeel Publishing, 1997 ed.), pg. 173.

When I first saw this, I thought it might be a dessert that Michael talks about from his childhood that he calls "Icebox Fruitcake". However, this is different as they are baked. Michael's mother dessert had a graham cracker crust and was not not baked.

I had some fruit cake mix left over and I used it in place of the pineapple and cherries. The mix has cherries and most likely pineapple as well.

The cookies have a sandy texture and remind me of shortbread cookies. The fruitcake flavor is very prominent and they are quite good. 

I baked one half of the dough and frozen the remainder to make at a later date.

I accidentally deleted my work photos for this post. I think that is the first time I've ever done that. The recipe is simple, however, and I don't think they add that much.

2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 egg
1 cup diced candied pineapple
1 cup diced candied cherries
1 2/3 cups pecans, chopped (or pistachio)

Makes 72-80 cookies

Sift together the flour and cream of tartar and set aside.

Cream the butter. Add the sugar and the egg and mix well.

On low speed, slowly add the flour mixture, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and with a wooden spoon or your hands, mix in the fruit and nuts.

Cut two 15" strips of wax paper. Cut the dough in half and place each on the wax paper. Form the dough into a 9-10" oblong shape. Use the sides of the wax paper to shape the dough, about 2" in diameter. Wrap in the paper and chill for several hours or overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Unwrap the dough and slice into 1/4 inch cookies. Place cookies about 1 inch apart.

Bake 12-14 minutes until the edges and bottoms of the cookies are golden brown (the tops will not brown). 

Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack with a metal spatula.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Marmalade Gingerbread


Marmalade Gingerbread (Source: Maida Heatter's New Book of Great Desserts (Alfred A. Knopf, 1982. pg. 282. Also in Maida Heatter's Cakes (Andrews & McMeel Publishing, 2011 ed., pg. 296).

It is that time of year for gingerbread and here is a recipe that I'm trying for the first time. This one is unbelievably easy and the finished product is beautiful. It is light in flavor and I was thinking it needed something a boost. I thought about making whipped cream to accompany it and instead, came across a gingerbread cookie recipe by Alex Guarnaschelli with an orange-flavored icing. It was perfect for this and I've put the recipe at the end, totally optional of course.

I forgot to adhere to Maida's advice and cover the cake with foil during the last few minutes of baking. Mine did burn a little around the edges.

I used rum for this and instead of lemon zest, I used orange because I had run out of lemons.

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
zest of 2 large lemons
1 TBS. light rum or cognac
4 oz. unsalted butter
1/2 cup honey
1 cup sweet orange marmalade
2 eggs

Preheat the oven to 350. Butter or spray a 9 x 5 x 3 loaf pan and dust with bread crumbs.

Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, ginger and nutmeg.


Mix the lemon zest and rum and let it stand in a small bowl.


Cream the butter and mix in the honey and the marmalade.



On low speed, add half of the flour mixture, scraping the bowl as needed. 


Mix in the eggs, one at a time. 


Add the remaining flour mixture.


Stir in the rum and zest.


Transfer to the pan and smooth the top.

Bake for 1 hour or until a tester comes out clean. The loaf may start to brown early, if so, cover loosely with foil. Cool for 10-15 minutes before removing from the pan and allowing to totally cool.


Optional Glaze (recipe by Alex Guarnaschelli)

3/4 cup powdered sugar
zest of 1 orange
2-3 TBS. orange juice
1/2 tsp. orange liqueur (optional)
1/4 tsp. light corn syrup

Whisk the ingredients together. If the glaze is too stiff, add more orange juice to attain the desired consistency.


Saturday, December 12, 2020



Lebkuchen (Source: Maida Heatter's New Book of Great Desserts (Alfred A. Knopf, 1982. pg. 310. Also in Maida Heatter's Cookies (Andrews & McMeel Publishing, 1997 ed.), pg. 104.

Apologies for the terrible job on glazing these cookies! In the recipe, Maida states that the glaze will turn clear but this didn't happen with me. Perhaps the cookies cooled too much before I could got the glaze on them.

These cookies were not really hard to make but I did find the recipe a bit confusing. It is a different technique from any other of her recipes that I've tried. This is a 2-day job because they sit overnight before baking the next day. At first, I thought that she must mean that the cookies must chill overnight but no, they actually sit on the counter loosely covered with plastic wrap.  

This is a very sticky dough and very difficult to work with. She recommended using a pastry cloth which I've never used nor own. I don't know if that would have made it any easier. I found that I had to continually flour my board and rolling pin to keep it from sticking. I also veered away from her instructions on cutting these into 2 x 4" inch oblong shapes. Instead, I just used my biscuit cutter. My cookies came out very thin but nicely shaped. Apparently, this recipe is very forgiving although I'm still not sure if mine look the way Maida intended them.

Despite all this, I love the cookies and think they taste wonderful. Very Christmas-y! The cookies are firm (she says they will soften after a few days).

I looked up various other recipes for lebkuchen online and they all vary, from the technique to the ingredients. Most of the recipes that I saw did not call for them sitting overnight.

This is a traditional German cookie that is popular during the holidays. I've seen them covered in chocolate which sounds so tempting but I strictly adhered to this recipe and no chocolate is involved.

For the diced citrus mix, I used the fruit cake mix that is readily available this time of year in grocery stores.

1 1/4 cups blanched almonds
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves
1 cup granulated sugar
1 TBS. plus 1 1/2 tsp. brandy
1/3 cup honey
3/4 cup mixed candied citron, lemon rind and orange rind, diced
3 1/2 cups sifted cake flour

Makes 28 large cookies

Grind the almonds to a fine powder -

Beat the eggs until thickened (about two minutes).  Add the baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves and gradually add the sugar. Continue to beat until the batter has a ribbon-like consistency.

On low speed, add the almonds, brandy, honey and the fruit mixture.


Gradually add 3 cups of the flour (reserving 1/2 cup), scraping the bowl as necessary.


Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the remaining flour with a wooden spoon. It will be a very thick batter.

Roll out about 1/3 of the dough at a time. A pastry cloth is recommended. I did not have one and used my usual board and rolling pin. The dough is very sticky and requires frequent flouring. Roll it out to a 1/4" inch thickness. Keep turning it over and flouring each side. Cut the cookies into 2 x 4" oblongs or do as I did and use a cookie cutter.

 Transfer the cookies with a spatula to two large cookie sheets that have been lined with parchment paper or a non-stick sheet (they will stick to foil). 

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow them to sit overnight on the counter.


Day #2

Bake the cookies at 325 degrees for 20 minutes. Place the first sheet in the oven and wait 5 minutes before putting the second sheet in the oven. Rotate the pans halfway through.

Prepare the glaze while the cookies are baking.

1 1/2 cups sifted confectioners sugar
1 TBS. lemon juice
1 TBS. boiling water

Whisk the ingredients together. The glaze will be very thick. 

 After the cookies are out of the oven, brush them with the glaze.

After the glaze has dried, the cookies can be stored airtight or wrapped in cellophane.