Even if you don’t like fruitcake (you’re with me, right?), you can still enjoy some of its tradition with these Apple Butter Rum Bars.
There’s no candied citron, and the bars can’t double as a door stop.
But they do have enough rum-soaked dried fruit to satisfy your urge for an old-fashioned holiday kind of baked thing.
I use dried apples, cranberries, dates and candied ginger because they are my favorites, but you can use whatever combination of fruit you prefer. (I only use 1/4 cup / 60 mls candied ginger as I find it can be a bit overwhelming sometimes.)
You’ll need to soak your fruit in rum for 24 hours before you make the bars, so a bit of advance planning is needed.
If you don’t have apple butter, don’t worry. You can use applesauce instead. (If it’s unsweetened, add an additional 1/4 cup / 60 ml brown sugar the recipe.)
Double the icing if you prefer a thicker layer on top.
- 3 cups / 750 ml dried fruit finely chopped (I used dried apples, cranberries, dates and candied ginger)
- 6 tablespoons / 90 ml rum
- 1/2 cup / 125 ml apple butter (or substitute thick applesauce
- 1/3 cup / 80 ml olive oil
- 1/2 cup / 125 ml brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons / 30 ml maple syrup or use additional apple butter
- 2 eggs beaten
- 1 teaspoon / 5 ml vanilla
- 1 cup / 250 ml all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon / 2.5 ml cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon / 2. 5 ml nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon / 2.5 ml dried ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon / 1.25 ml ground pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon / 2.5 ml salt
- 1 teaspoon / 5 ml baking soda
- 1 teaspoon / 5 ml baking powder
- 2 tablespoons / 30 ml additional rum for brushing over baked cake
- 1/4 cup / 60 ml softened butter
- 2 teaspoons / 10 ml rum
- 1 cup / 250 ml icing or confectioners' sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon / 2.5 ml grated nutmeg
In metal or glass mixing bowl, stir together dried fruit and rum. Cover and let sit, stirring occasionally for 24 hours. The fruit will absorb the rum and become a bit sticky.
When the fruit has soaked and you are ready to begin baking, preheat oven to 325 degrees F / 163 degrees C. Grease a 9x9-inch / 23x23 cm baking pan, and line bottom with parchment or wax paper.
To the dried fruit, add apple butter, olive oil, brown sugar, maple syrup, eggs and vanilla. Beat until well mixed.
In separate bowl, stir together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, dried ginger, pepper, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
Stir flour mixture into dried fruit mixture until combined and there are no streaks of flour in the batter.
Spread the batter into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bars comes out clean.
Remove pan from oven and set on cooling rack. Brush with rum until it is all absorbed. Let bars cool completely. (You can brush cooled bars with additional rum if you like additional rum flavor.)
Beat butter and rum until smooth. Add icing sugar and beat until it becomes smooth and spreadable. (At the start it will seem very dry and crumbly, but as you continue to beat the icing it will become smooth.)
Spread icing over cooled bars and sprinkle with grated nutmeg.