Tuesday, December 11, 2012

In Support of Fruit Cake: Cherry Almond Bars

The world is divided into two types of people that become very evident this time of year: People who love fruit cake and people who hate fruit cake. I am of the first group. I do not understand what ISN'T to love about a rich, dense cake with nuts and chewy candied fruit!! Do people hate nuts? Do they hate candied fruit (which is the best form of fruit)? You hear people whining about "mysterious colored chunks of things" in fruit cake and you wonder if people are that paranoid about eating something that they can't immediately identify. Like these folks are giving their Chicken McNuggets a critical once over. Now, before everyone decides to foist off their unwanted fruit cakes to me, let me say that the reason I don't buy or make one for myself is that the only other person I know who likes fruit cake is my Mom and neither of us need to consume an 8,000 calorie cake by ourselves.

Following the "only make it once a year" theme of my Christmas baking is a festive 'almost-like-a-fruit-cake-but-not' bar called Cherry Almond Bars. What I like are the pretty red and green colors and how sweet and chewy it is without being as time consuming or as expensive as a fruit cake. BTW, picky people, the "unidentified parts" of a fruit cake are what usually make it so expensive and heavy; candied cherries (red and green), candied pineapple, dates, raisins, possibly apples and currents, and nuts. This bar uses just the candied cherries and raisins and almonds and the ease of a Magic Seven Layer Bar. And I've even had people who said they didn't care for fruit cake say this was a darn tasty bar!

Cherry Almond Bars

2 cups flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup cold butter
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup chopped red and green candied cherries
1 cup slivered almonds
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Combine flower and brown sugar, cut in butter until crumbly. Press into an ungreased 15"X10" pan. Bake at 325 for 12-14 min or lightly brown. Sprinkle with raisins, cherries and almonds, drizzle with milk. Bake 25-30 min longer.

Save some of the cherries for decorating other treats. I'm using those I've set aside to make hollies for a Christmas cake.

Other hints: I used a standard cake pan. I have no idea what a 15"X10" pan is. My cake pan nor my cookie sheet/jelly roll pans measured that, so I just used what I had. It was probably a little thicker cookie than intended so adjust the baking time. I happened to have just a bit of fresh orange juice left over from another recipe so I added a few table spoons to the condensed milk. Also, after I made this I realized a wonderful change (especially if you don't like raisins) is to swap them out for white chocolate chips! Imagine, a Chocolate Cherry Almond Bar!! Next year.....next year.....

Even if people can't manage to choke down something even remotely related to fruit cake they will surely appreciate the festive, jolly appearance of such a holiday-appropriate dessert. Frankly, I'd happily eat most of them myself with a cool glass of egg nog (and more on that abused and besmirched Christmas time drink in another post!)

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