Thursday, December 8, 2011
Not-So-Nutty Fruitcake Cookies (Vegan, Nut-free and Soy-free)
I may have doomed these cookies for life by naming them after a much despised holiday treat. And I know a lot of you will dismiss them just because of their namesake. You might even think I'm nuts for picking such a horrible name for these delicious cookies, but I don't think so. If you like fruitcake, then these Not-So-Nutty Fruitcake Cookies will definitely remind you of it. But if you don't like fruitcake, I still think you'll like these cookies because, unlike the infamous fruitcake, they're not basted with booze and they're not cloyingly sweet with candied fruit. Laugh as you may, crack a few jokes or two, but after you take a bite, you just might think I'm not-so-nutty after all.
I wouldn't exactly call myself a big fan of fruitcake but I've tried to like it over the years. My mom absolutely adores the stuff so we'd always have it around the house. She's the only person I know who will buy fruitcake for herself during the holidays. Every year, I would take a small slice and try it, thinking maybe this is the year I will finally love fruitcake and every year I realize I'm so wrong.
So this year, I've decided I'm going to create the kind of fruitcake I know I'll love...in cookie form! I mean, who doesn't love cookies, right? My thoughts exactly. Since my kids have multiple food allergies, I made these cookies egg-free, dairy-free, nut-free, peanut-free and soy-free. Despite leaving out all these ingredients, they're still moist and delicious and they're also jam-packed with flavor.
These cookies are beautifully studded with red cranberries, orange apricots, golden sultanas and dark raisins. To add a bit of crunch while keeping them nut-free, I added some roasted sunflower seeds and roasted pumpkin seeds. My kids actually prefer them without the seeds so I make a batch and just add seeds to half of the cookies for Hubby and I. They're also perfumed with aromatic spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. Instead of basting them with alcohol, I lightly brushed them with the bright flavor of orange juice.
I hope you'll try these not-so-nutty fruitcake cookies for the holidays and let me know what you think :-)
Not-So-Nutty Fruitcake Cookies
Makes about 3 dozen cookies
Allergy Note: contains wheat ingredients
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup golden raisins (sultanas)
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup oat bran*
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cups vegetable shortening (I use Spectrum Naturals organic shortening)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange zest (one medium-sized orange)
1/2 cup roasted sunflower seeds (optional)
1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds, sometimes called "pepitas"(optional)
orange juice for basting
Note: You may replace the oat bran with 1/4 cup wheat germ or rolled oats. If you prefer, you can also just replace it with 1/4 cup all-purpose flour.
Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees. Line three cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
In a microwave-safe small bowl, combine orange juice, golden raisins, raisins, dried cranberries and dried apricots. Microwave for 1-2 minutes. Stir and allow to cool.
Sift together flour, oat bran, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat together shortening, brown sugar, applesauce, vanilla extract and orange zest. Mix in the cooled dried fruit mixture until combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients. Fold in the sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. Using a cookie scoop, drop about 2 tablespoons of the cookie dough onto the prepared cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Gently press down each cookie.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges. Lightly brush with orange juice. Let cool completely before removing from cookie sheet.