Fruitcake Shortbread Cookies are buttery slice and bake cookies that take their cue from the holiday treat everybody loves to hate, only this time fruitcake will be the star attraction of your cookie collection.
“There’s only one fruitcake in the world, people just keep passing it around.”
~ Johnny Carson
I know, nobody’s a fan of the sticky loaf, but let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater…there are some redeeming qualities in that stodgy brick of a cake, we just need to rethink and revamp (have you tried my Modern Fruitcake?) When you combine a delicious butter cookie with pretty candied fruit, turns out fruitcake is a pretty sweet deal!
What is fruitcake?
- Fruitcake as we know it is a descendent of a very old type of celebration cake loaded with candied fruits, nuts, and spices. Fruitcakes are very moist because they’re doused with alcohol, often brandy, whiskey, or rum. Because of this they can keep for a very very long time. Like eggnog, cooks will age their fruitcake to mellow the flavors.
- The cake classically contains candied or glacéd fruits including cherries, citrus peel, apricots, figs, dates, plums, raisins, pineapple, etc.
- Lots of different types of nuts gives this cake an extremely chunky texture. (I left the nuts out of these cookies, but you can totally add them if you want to.)
Where can I buy candied fruit?
- Look in the dried fruit section of your larger grocery stores. Most stores will stock candied fruit during the holidays, at least. Sometimes it will be sold individually, (red cherries, orange peel, etc.) and sometimes you can find a ready made mix. I used a ready made mix that was chopped and ready to go.
Can I use dried fruit instead of candied fruit?
- Yes, you can, gather up your favorites and chop them finely.
- Be aware that if you don’t use candied fruit, you won’t get the classic ‘fruitcake’ flavor in your cookies.
I love to use my stand mixer to make shortbread dough, it’s quick and painless, mess free, too. Once the dough is mixed, it gets rolled into a log and wrapped in parchment or plastic wrap. Chilling the dough is important so it can firm up to a sliceable consistency.
Tip for cutting your chilling time in half!
- The hardest part of making fruitcake cookies is waiting for your log of dough to chill.
- You can refrigerate shortbread dough for several hours ~ or take my short cut, pop it in the freezer for an hour. The effect is the same and it saves you loads of precious time.
Every fruitcake cookie is a unique work of art
Every slice reveals a different mosaic of candied fruit. I like to roll the edges in sparkling sugar before baking for a little extra sparkle and crunch. Want smaller cookies? Just roll the log of dough a little longer and skinnier.
Can shortbread cookies be frozen?
- Yes, they’ll freeze well, either baked or unbaked.
- For baked cookies, let them cool completely, then stack them in a good sturdy freezer safe container, and separate the layers with a sheet of waxed or parchment paper to keep them from sticking as they freeze.
- For unbaked cookies, put them on a lined baking sheet and freeze until solid. Then you can put them in a heavy duty zip lock freezer bag and take them out as needed to bake.
- You can also freeze the log of dough, just wrap in plastic, then again in foil. Defrost in the fridge overnight before baking.
Fruitcake shortbread cookies are fun to make, give, and eat. The colors make them super festive and the flavor is pure Christmas!
Presentation inspo ~
Grab some mini foil loaf pans at the grocery store for the perfect presentation. Each loaf pan will hold 6-8 cookies and makes the perfect little thoughtful gift.
Are you in cookie making mode yet? Here’s more ~
- Maple Glazed Oatmeal Cookies
- Soft Glazed Gingerbread Cookies
- Honey Spice Hazelnut Cookies
- Sprinkle Sugar Cookies
- Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies
- Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies
Fruit Cake Shortbread Cookies
- 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature It is important that your butter be soft, you cannot use cold butter.
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp rum extract (substitute vanilla or almond extract)
- 2 cups all purpose flour (measure with the fluff/scoop/level method)
- 1 cup finely diced fruitcake mix
- coarse or sanding sugar for decorating, optional
- Cream the butter and sugar together until wll combined and light and fluffy, scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Beat in the extract.
- Slowly add in the flour with the mixer on low, until the dough comes together, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. If your dough is extremely dry you can add a little milk, a teaspoon at a time, to bring it together. Note: don't be tempted to add too much milk, the dough should come together fine as long as your butter is soft.
- Add the fruit to the bowl and continue to mix until the fruit is incorporated. You can use your hands for the last part if you like.
- Turn the dough out onto a sheet of parchment paper or plastic wrap and form it into a log, about 9 or 10 inches long. Wrap it in the plastic and smooth it into a uniform smooth round shape, twisting the ends tightly to secure. Chill for at least 2 hours, or overnight.Tip: I like to wrap the log in a thick towel so that as it chills to keeps a perfectly round shape.
- Preheat oven to 350F Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Slice the log of dough into 1/3 inch slices. Roll edges in sugar, if desired, and then place on cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake for about 10 minutes. Longer baking will create a crisper cookie, shorter time makes a soft buttery cookie, my preference. They may seem soft as they come out of the oven but they will firm up as they cool. Let them cool for a few minutes on the pan before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Sprinkle the cookies with sanding sugar, if using, while they are warm.