Learn how to make the best fruitcake cookies with this easy recipe for slice-and-bake icebox holiday cookies. These cookies are flavourful and festive, spiced with cardamom and allspice, and made with raisins, candied peel, walnuts, ginger, and cherries
Don't panic if you are days away from the holidays or if it's already December 24th. You still have time to throw together a few easy cookie recipes. Slice-and-bake cookies are your best bet when it comes to pumping out a large number of cookies in a short amount of time and with less effort. Why? Because slice-and-bake cookie dough can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for several days. Or you can freeze it for up to 1 month. When you are ready to bake, try to take the cookie dough out of the freezer the day before. Then all you have to do is slice and bake them!
What are fruitcake cookies made of
If you want to make fruitcake cookies, you will need the following ingredients:
- butter, preferably unsalted butter because you will add salt to the dough, but if you have salted, it will work. Just adjust the salt in the recipe accordingly, otherwise your cookies may be too salty
- granulated sugar contributes to the firm texture of the cookie
- brown sugar adds a little flavour and softness to these cookies. Combined with granulated sugar, it leads to the perfect texture for a slice-and-bake cookie, not too soft, not too crunchy.
- large eggs, don't use smaller eggs because your cookie dough may be too dry and your cookies won't spread enough, but don't use extra large eggs because they could cause the cookie dough to puff too much as it bakes, leading to a more cake-y cookie
- all-purpose flour is needed to bind all the ingredients together and give the cookies structure, contributing to the chewiness of the cookies as well. If you don't use enough flour, your cookies may spread too much as they bake
- ground cardamom and allspice are added to the dough to make these cookies very flavourful. Feel free to vary the spices. You can try cinnamon, nutmeg, or cloves too if you prefer. Just remember with some of these warm spices, a little goes a long way!
- salt is really important to balance out the sweet flavour of the candied fruit and dried fruit. Don't skip it. I like to use Diamond Crystal fine kosher salt, but table salt will work, though the cookies will be saltier and you may want to halve the salt in that case.
- candied and/or dried fruit is the secret to the best fruitcake cookies because they add a ton of flavour and sweetness and you can choose your favourites to mix into the cookie dough.
- walnuts are optional in this recipe, but so good here! They add both flavour and texture to the cookie.
What kind of fruit should you use
A typical fruitcake will have raisins and/or dried currants, glacéed cherries (red or green), candied citrus peel, candied citron peel, candied pineapple, and possibly nuts (though my family's white fruitcake doesn't have nuts). Really, any candied or dried fruit can be used in this recipe. The great thing about this recipe is that you can use up the tail-ends of the fruit you bought for your other Christmas baking.
I like to add crystallized ginger and dried cranberries. You can also try chopped pitted dates instead of the raisins.... use what you like and what you've got! Just make sure the total weight of dried and candied fruit is 1 pound or 450 grams.
For the nuts, feel free to replace the walnuts with chopped pecans, almonds or even chopped hazelnuts. Or skip them entirely if you prefer for a nut-free version! Still, I highly recommend adding the nuts. Make sure to toast them to bring out more flavour, and let them cool slightly before mixing into the cookie dough.
An easier way to enjoy fruitcake
The slice-and-bake method is a quick and easy way for you to produce dozens and dozens of cookies quickly. It's actually faster to do than scooped cookies.
The longest part is waiting for the logs of cookie dough to chill until the butter is hard before slicing. This way, the cookies will hold their shape better.
Slice-and-bake or icebox cookies don't spread in the oven, so you can place them more tightly on your cookie sheets allowing you to bake 24 cookies per sheet pan!
If fruitcake cookies aren't enough to satisfy your craving, try this white fruitcake topped with marzipan and brandy frosting. It's a family favourite and you can bake it in a couple loaf pans even or muffin tins.
What if you hate fruitcake?
If you would don't love fruitcake, I'm not here to judge you. Try these slice and bake crystallized ginger cookies and slice and bake gingerbread cookies instead. Both are very easy and still quite festive for the holidays. If you dare to make something more elaborate, try the cinnamon rugelach with dried cranberries.
Slice-and-bake fruitcake cookies
- 454 grams (1 lb) chopped candied fruit mix or dried fruit, chopped (see note below recipe)
- 45 mL (3 tablespoon) brandy
- 333 grams (2¾ cups) bleached all-purpose flour
- 3.75 mL (¾ teaspoon) ground cardamom
- 1.25 mL (¼ teaspoon) ground allspice
- 230 grams (1 cup) unsalted butter room temperature
- 100 grams (½ cup) granulated sugar
- 72 grams (⅓ cup) light brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 170 grams (1⅓ cups) chopped walnuts toasted and chopped
- In a small saucepan, combine the candied/dried fruits and/or raisins with the brandy. Heat to warm up everything until the mixture is steamy, then remove the saucepan from the heat and let stand.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour with the spices. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and the sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat well to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Add the flour to the mixer bowl in three additions, stirring between each addition and scraping down the bowl as needed. When the last of the flour has almost disappeared into the dough, add the soaked fruit (plus any remaining brandy that didn't get soaked up) and the walnuts. Stir to combine.
- Divide the dough into 4 and roll each piece into a log of about 2-inches diameter. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- Slice each log into about 16 cookies and arrange on parchment-lined baking sheets spaced 1 inch apart.
- Bake at 350ºF for 15 minutes until the edges are nice and golden.
- raisins or dried currants
- dried cherries or dried cranberries
- crystallized ginger
- candied citrus peel (lemon, orange, or citron)
- glacéed cherries (chop them up in to small pieces!)
Adapted from Ina Garten.