Fruitcake Oatmeal Cookies: What's not to like?

Oatmeal, dried plums, honey and various spices in English Christmas pudding was the beginning of the Christmas fruitcake tradition. By the 16th century, the oatmeal was removed and some of the familiar ingredients of cake were added, such as eggs, butter and wheat flour. The concoction was then boiled into a plum cake, often with no plums or any dried fruits at all.

Wealthy families with ovens baked the “Christmas Cake” adding more expensive dried fruit and spices. The cake celebrated the Wise Men bringing exotic spices to the Christ child. And here’s where it gets all Dickensian.

The English upper class would give out pieces of fruitcake to the poor, who sang Christmas Carols in the streets in the late 1700's. By the end of the 18th century, there were actually laws saying that plum cakes (generic for dried fruit) could only be consumed at Christmas, Easter, weddings, christenings, and funerals. Seems to me the masses were tricked into believing that having fruitcake was special.

I’m happy enough to preserve the essence of the tradition of remembering the story of the Three Wise Men, even adding a little gold in the form of Goldschlager liqueur. But I much prefer my own version. These really yummy cookies are a great substitute for the heavy fruitcake of centuries past.

¾ cup butter, softened
¾ cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash of salt
2 cups quick cooking oats
¼ cup golden raisins
¼ cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon green candied cherries, chopped coarsely
1 teaspoon orange zest, finely grated
1 tablespoon of Goldschlager liqueur (optional, if dough needs moisture, use milk instead)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Using a batter bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar, white sugar, Goldschlager liqueur and vanilla until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. In a second bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon with a spoon; stir flour mixture into the creamed mixture until well blended. Add oats, dried fruits and orange zest until just blended.

Drop by heaping tablespoons (I use a cookie scoop) onto ungreased cookie sheets two inches apart. Bake 11-12 minutes. Edges should be golden and the centers only slightly dry. Cool baked cookies on a wire rack; makes approximately 2 ½ dozen medium cookies.


  1. They sound yummy! And you don't have to wait six weeks to eat them.....


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