"You either love it or your hate it," said Marietta native Kelley Bogle Peace.
Every year around Christmas, Peace makes fruitcake cookies for herself and the select few who actually enjoy the seasonal treat. "Most people don't like fruitcake because they've never had good fruitcake," Peace said.
For many, fruitcake conjures the dreaded image of dark cakes full of candied fruit and nuts.
"You hear people say they could hurt someone with a piece of fruitcake because it's so heavy," Peace said. "Mine is light and moist."
Peace's sister, Frances Bogle, a first-grade teacher at Park Street Elementary School in Marietta, agrees. "They're really light and I think a nice alternative to the traditional fruitcake. You don't feel like you've just swallowed a brick when you eat one."
Peace follows the fruitcake recipe handed down from her maternal grandmother, Mom Fran, who always served the cookies with Charlotte Russe, a dessert made with sponge cake and custard. "After Mom Fran died, Mom tried to make Charlotte, but it didn't work," she said, laughing.
Fruitcake cookies can be enjoyed a number of ways. "Some people like to put a little bourbon on top of their cookies but I've never done that," Peace said.
Peace said her favorite way to eat fruitcake is with peppermint ice cream. "It was some childhood concoction I created," she said.
"I love it so much I reserve a few at the end of the year and put them in the freezer so I can have a little fruitcake year round," revealed Peace.
"I need a little Christmas every now and then," she said, with a chuckle.
Mom Fran’s Fruitcake Cookies
* 1 stick of butter
* ½ box of light brown sugar (this is the equivalent of 1 and 1/8 cups)
* 2 eggs beaten
* 1 cup of flour
* 1 tsp of good quality vanilla
* 1 container of crystalized cherries (red)
* 1 container of crystalized cherries (green)
* 1 container of crystalized pineapple
* 2 cups of pecan halves
1. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, sifted flour and vanilla.
2. Grease and flour a jelly roll pan. (I double the recipe and use a 13 x 9 pan.)
3. Place the pecan halves on the bottom of the pan.
4. Spread the batter evenly on top of the pecans, being careful not to incorporate the pecans into the batter. (At this point, I slam the pan (gently) on my stone kitchen floor a few times, to make sure batter is evenly dispersed ... this is NOT in my grandmom’s recipe.)
5. Fun part: Arrange the fruit across the top of the batter. It should be “crowded” and chaotic ... no rhyme or reason ... just beautiful red, green and yellow.
6. Do not press the fruit into the batter. Let the fruit sit gently on the top.
7. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-50 minutes. I set the timer for 30 minutes and check the cookies every 5 minutes thereafter. When a cold knife is inserted, it should come out of the batter clean. As Mom Fran said, “Don’t OVERBAKE!”
8. Cool completely. Cut into squares.
Can be frozen, or kept in air tight container for a week — if they last that long!