ushering in the christmas spirit: fruit cake cookies

The day after Thanksgiving, I packed up the last of the Thanksgiving decor and pulled all the boxes of Christmas ornaments and decorations out of the garage. My husband and I wrangled with the artificial tree until it was set up just perfect, each branch where it should be. The kids and I put ornaments on, one by one, while I told the story behind each ornament we’ve collected since we were first married 13 years ago. It was a good day.

Setting up the tree and decorating the house injected a burst of Christmas spirit into our home that day. The only thing I felt was missing was some holiday baking. Fruit cake cookies were the perfect choice to usher in the holiday season.

My husband first introduced me to these cookies when we were dating, back when the earth was still cooling. The fruit cake cookie recipe was one of his Grandmother’s specialties, a treat she made for the family each Christmas.

I admit that when I heard the name – fruit cake cookies – I was skeptical. I am NOT a fan of fruit cake. I just don’t get it.

But these cookies? I love them. They have just the right amount of sweetness, but definitely not overwhelming to the senses. The texture – soft and a little crumbly – reminds me of shortbread.

The fruit cake-ness (yes, I just made that up) comes from the addition of colorful candied cherries and pineapple. The dough is shaped into logs, chilled, then sliced into cookies and baked. Each slice of the knife cuts through those cherries and pineapples, giving the cookies a stained glass – or fruit cake – appearance.

Over the weekend I baked up a batch of these colorful sweet treats with my kids, and they loved the whole process – from tasting the candied cherries, to adding the flour to the mixer, to tasting the final result, still warm out of the oven.

Yep. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here.

Yield: Approx 32 cookies.

Fruit Cake Cookies


1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg, room temperature
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups candied cherries and pineapples
1 cup chopped pecans


Using a stand mixer (or handheld mixer), cream together butter, powdered sugar, and egg. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour and cream of tartar until well-incorporated. Add in flour mixture to butter mixture slowly, blending after each addition until dough forms. Stir in remaining ingredients (candied cherries and pineapples, pecans).Turn dough out onto wax paper and divide into two equal parts. Roll each into a log, 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap in wax paper and freeze until firm, approximately 1 hour.

Place oven rack in middle position and preheat to 375 degrees F. Slice each log into 1/4 inch thickness. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until light brown. Cool on a wire rack until room temperature.

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33 Responses to “ushering in the christmas spirit: fruit cake cookies”

  1. 1
    Barbara @ Vino Luci Style — November 28, 2010 @ 7:39 pm

    I have to admit I was skeptical when I saw your photo earlier today…but you’ve been redeemed by using candied cherries and pineapple! I can not stand those green, red and yellow things in a lot of holiday fruitcakes so I’m with you there; although I do love a fruitcake I make but it’s all nuts, cherries and dates and not a citrus looking/sounding hard mass in site!

    These are beautiful…and I think I have to make!

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  3. 2
    Paula — November 28, 2010 @ 8:32 pm

    Now this is a fruitcake I can really sink my teeth into! They look wonderful and are so colourful.

  4. 3
    Liz the Chef — November 28, 2010 @ 9:15 pm

    Wonderful! I am in the midst of re-writing and re-testing the fruitcake recipe my Mom and I used to make. I love having notes like “Try dates in 2007”. Poor Mama, gone over that TG – time for her daughter to bake again… best, Liz

  5. 4
    Tes — November 29, 2010 @ 1:51 am

    So Beautiful!! your fruit cake cookies look so beautiful! They’re colorful and delicious šŸ™‚

  6. 5
    New York Girl — November 29, 2010 @ 6:28 am

    I am a gal who loves fruit cake… fruitcake, when done traditionally is just lush and delicious… why it has that awful stigma stuck to it… I don’t know why…??? But this looks just absolutely beautiful…

  7. 6
    Cookie — November 29, 2010 @ 11:38 am

    I’m definitely not a fan of Fruitcake but wanna give these cookies a try cuz they look so pretty and festive!

  8. 7
    Jason Phelps — November 29, 2010 @ 8:17 pm

    When I first read the title I thought “never made fruit cake, hmmm” and then I saw the cookies and realized I had made those before. I enjoy the dried fruits both ways, but more so in the cookie. Sweet treats this time of year are a menace!


  9. 8
    Abbie — November 29, 2010 @ 8:31 pm

    Those are so festive! Thanks for joining the virtual cookie swap! I’ve got a link to this post in my side bar and it’ll stay there til after Christmas šŸ™‚ Please come check out the other recipes as they come in!

  10. 9
    Belinda — November 29, 2010 @ 9:40 pm

    Our grandma had some great recipes, didn’t she? Those cookies will always remind me of her! šŸ™‚

  11. 10
    Brian @ A Thought For Food — November 29, 2010 @ 10:38 pm

    Fruit cake cookies!?!?! Sounds like my kind of cookie! šŸ˜‰ In all seriousness, these look incredible and festive and they’d make PERFECT holiday gifts! Beautiful!

  12. 11
    Nancy@acommunaltable — November 29, 2010 @ 11:13 pm

    Have to admit I do like fruitcake… but only the ones made by Collins Street Bakery! These cookies incorporate the best parts of the fruitcake so I will definitely have to try making these!!

  13. 12
    Jenny — November 30, 2010 @ 12:25 pm

    These are beautiful cookies – I think I must make them!

  14. 13
    Joy — November 30, 2010 @ 10:09 pm

    That is a great idea for a cookie. I never really liked fruit cake but this I am loving this recipe.


  16. 14
    Stephanie — December 8, 2010 @ 3:48 pm

    Hi there!

    So glad I found this recipe via Serious Eats! I plan to make these yummy looking cookies today… but I wanted to say that your candied fruit looks seriously delicious! I had a hard time finding candied fruit that were whole… they were all chopped!!! Hope they still turn out as beautiful as yours though!

    • 14.1
      mj (merry gourmet)
      mj (merry gourmet) — December 8, 2010 @ 3:56 pm

      Stephanie – Good luck with the cookies! Let me know how they turn out for you. šŸ™‚

  17. 15
    Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction — December 8, 2010 @ 8:51 pm

    I have to laugh because every year my grandmother makes fruitcake cookies and puts them in our cookie tin and tries to trick me into eating them. I’m not a fan.

    Granted, hers look nothing like yours… After looking at your recipe, I think I may have found fruitcake cookies that I would be willing to eat. No trickery required!

    • 15.1
      mj (merry gourmet)
      mj (merry gourmet) — December 8, 2010 @ 9:06 pm

      Jen – These cookies are wonderful because they really are nothing like true fruitcake. In fact, I should probably rename them to get rid of the stigma!

  18. 16
    Liren — December 15, 2010 @ 3:26 am

    I secretly like fruitcake, so I KNOW I’ll love these šŸ™‚ I must make this sometime this week!

  19. 17
    Leann — December 19, 2010 @ 3:21 pm

    I have been looking for a recipe for these!!! I had one years ago but could not find it. I made them for friends and family and they were a BIG hit.

  20. 18
    Sam — December 20, 2010 @ 9:26 am

    These look just like the cookies I wanted to make. But the powdered sugar is right? Really? Like confectioners sugar? Just wondering…I saw Ina Garten make these and she used half brown half granulated white…what is the difference? A lighter cookie? help!

    • 18.1
      mj (merry gourmet)
      mj (merry gourmet) — December 20, 2010 @ 10:24 am

      Sam – Yes, powdered sugar is correct. I’ve never used another sugar, so I can’t tell you what the difference would be. I would guess that if you substituted white granulated sugar that the texture might be a little different. Brown sugar might give a little different taste, as well. If you make it with either of those sugars, let me know what you think.

  21. 19
    Teresa — January 22, 2011 @ 2:22 pm

    I baked this cookies this year based on how beautiful they looked. I was not dissapointed. Yummy!!! They were a gorgeous addition to my cookie tray.! Thanks!!

    • 19.1
      mj (merry gourmet)
      mj (merry gourmet) — January 23, 2011 @ 4:56 pm

      I’m so glad, Teresa! Thanks for the feedback. I love hearing how things turn out.

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  23. 20
    sweetsugarbelle — June 8, 2011 @ 6:41 am

    Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!!!

  24. 21
    sweetsugarbelle — June 8, 2011 @ 6:43 am

    Glad to have found you!

  25. 22
    Matilde Bird — December 6, 2016 @ 4:14 pm

    I made these cookies last year and everybody loved them. I’m making dough again this week and will freeze until ready to bake next week. I hope dough won’t dry out.

  26. 23
    Lori Mcbride — December 20, 2017 @ 5:38 pm

    Iā€™m just getting started ~I’m so excited to make these?Wish me Luck??ā€???

  27. 24
    Anonymous — December 29, 2019 @ 4:08 pm

    We made two batches of the fruitcake cookies today because we loved the first ones so much.They were awesome and so easy to make . Thank you for the recipe.

  28. 25
    Ida — January 28, 2020 @ 3:37 pm

    Would you clarify the amounts of candied fruit? Is it 1.5 cups each or 1.5 cups combined of candied cherries and pineapple?

    • 25.1
      Merry-Jennifer — January 29, 2020 @ 2:34 pm

      I typically use 1.5 cups total. Sometimes I can find the candied cherries and the pineapples packaged separately, but most commonly, I only find them mixed.

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