How will fruitcake ever get over its bad name if we don't give it a little more credit? So, you are going to have to trust me here. These bars are packed with brandy soaked cherries and toasted pecans, how bad can that be? I'm telling you they are quite lovely and because they are packed with fruit and nuts, you can cut them into little bars and call them "energy bars", or eat them for breakfast if you want to. I certainly won't tell anyone! I should warn you that you might get a bit of a workout making these bars. Since they are mostly fruit and nuts you are going to have to use a little muscle to stir the batter. Again, I promise they are totally worth it.
adapted from The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook
1 cup brandy
1 1/4 cups dried tart cherries
1 1/2 cups prunes,finely chopped
1 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup dark raisins
1/2 cup dried currants
2 cups all purpose flour
3 /4 teaspoon ground allspice
3 /4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan
2 cups packed brown sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup pecans, toasted, cooled, and finely chopped
Powdered sugar as needed for sprinkling
Put the brandy in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a low simmer. Combine all the dried fruit in a bowl. Pour simmering brandy over the fruit and set aside to cool to room temperature.
Whisk together the flour, spices, and salt in a bowl. Add 1 cup of the flour mixture to the cooled fruit mixture and toss to combine. Set the fruit mixture and the remaining dry ingredients aside.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9 × 13- inch baking pan and line the bottom with a piece of parchment, leaving a few inches of parchment overhanging the 2 long sides of the pan, then butter the paper.
In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, on medium speed, beat the butter and the brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well to incorporate each egg before adding the next. Add the vanilla extract. Turn the mixer to low speed and add the remaining dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and, using a rubber spatula, fold in the reserved fruit mixture and the pecans. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, using the rubber spatula to smooth the top.
Bake until cooked through and a skewer inserted into the fruitcake comes out with a few crumbs attached but no batter, 50 to 55 minutes, rotating the pan once halfway through the baking time.
Remove the pan from the oven and allow the cake to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 1 hour. Then use the overhanging parchment to lift the fruitcake out of the pan. Transfer the fruitcake to the wire rack and allow to cool completely, still on the parchment paper.
Cut the fruitcake into bars, you should get about 32 small bars. Sprinkle the bars with powdered sugar before serving.