How to Make Sober Fruitcake Muffins

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Look, I know right away this blog post will be controversial. First, who really likes fruitcake? It’s a joke, right? But someone must keep eating it, because you can still buy it. Well, I like it, and for a very specific reason. So here is my fruitcake story….

Once, long ago, someone I loved dearly did something really horrible to me. And when he came to ask forgiveness, he brought some fruitcake he had made himself (don’t laugh! I know it sounds cruel, but it has a happy ending!).  I had never really tried fruitcake before, and when I tried it, not only did I love it, but I could also taste his sorrow and regret. It was sweet and spicy and fruity and rich. So now, whenever I taste fruitcake, I taste forgiveness.

But I don’t drink anymore, remember? And most fruitcakes and recipes are soaked in some kind of liquor. So I invented this recipe, and I must say, even people who don’t care for fruitcake like this. I make it in a mini-muffin tin, so it’s not a 10-pound loaf that feels intimidating. You can just pop one of these in your mouth and get a burst of flavor…and a taste of forgiveness.

Sober Fruitcake


  • 2 sticks softened butter
  • 2 cups candied cherries
  • 2 cups candied pineapple
  • 2 cups candied citrus peel
  • 2 cups pecans, chopped up
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1½ teaspoons lemon extract
  • 1 handful golden raisins
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour


1. Use some of the butter to grease a mini-muffin pan.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
3. Toss fruits and nuts together in a bowl.
4. Mix softened (but not melted) butter and sugar together. Add eggs, lemon extract, and salt and mix some more.
5. Add the flour and mix some more.
6. Now add the fruit and nuts to the other stuff and mix everything together.
7. Fill the muffin tins and bake until golden, about 20 minutes.

Note: This can be baked in a traditional loaf too!

They say that reformed rakes make the best husbands. Well, a reformed fruitcake makes the best holiday dessert. And my old friend who brought me my first taste? I forgave him…but I’m still waiting for him to send me his recipe!


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9 Responses to How to Make Sober Fruitcake Muffins

  1. Vicky December 10, 2010 at 12:11 pm #

    This looks like my Mother’s receipe (can not find) so anxious to try it. My Father always helped her stir it. Fond memories!

  2. James December 10, 2010 at 12:14 pm #

    Maria, This sounds great. I wonder if there are any alternatives for the candied fruit. The ones I find in my store have a lot of unhealthy additives, etc.

  3. Jean Nick a.k.a. Rodale's Nickel Pincher December 10, 2010 at 1:16 pm #

    Yummy! I’m a fruitcake fan too. I use combinations of just about any dried organic fruit I can find at the natural food store instead of commercial candied fruits. I’m particularly fond of apricots, cherries, and pineapple. Chopping dried fruit into bite-sized bits can be a sticky business, but it will help if you freeze the fruit for an hour (but not longer) before chopping time, grease the blade of the knife lightly, and/or sprinkle the dried fruit with a little of the flour you would use in the recipe. Dried and sweetened cranberries or dried cherries make good substitutes for candied cherries (and don’t need to be cut) and dried pineapple subs nicely for candied pineapple (buy tidbits rather than slices if you can). If you want candied citrus peel buy some organic citrus fruits, enjoy the insides, and make your own (an online search for “recipe candied fruit” will provide simple instructions). Candied citrus peel made from commonly available citrus fruit (oranges, lemons, etc.) peels will be thinner and more flavorful than the violently-dyed red and green, almost flavorless, candied “citron” most fruitcakes sport. Citrons are a type of citrus fruit that look like large, warty lemons and have a very thick, fragrant rind with very little flesh inside (and what there is is dry and uninteresting). A fresh citron is amazingly fragrant and if you can find one you can turn the thick rind into really tasty candied citron — nothing like the nasty commercial stuff.

  4. Sue Stewart December 10, 2010 at 2:37 pm #

    and if you are lazy, like me sometimes, King Arthur Flour has the most wonderful fruitcake mix, with the fruit already chopped and the cherries already candied – nice natural ingredients, makes muffins or small cakes and no liquor involved at all.

  5. dblinder December 10, 2010 at 4:03 pm #

    Great tips all! Thanks for sharing! Any other favorite holiday treats that are gobbled up right away you’d like to share? We love hearing the recipes!

  6. Laura K. December 10, 2010 at 4:16 pm #

    Love the look of this recipe, and love the story. I hate boozy baked goods so I’m excited to try this.

  7. Maria Gladstone February 7, 2011 at 1:53 pm #

    I LOVE fruitcake!!!!

  8. rosebud February 21, 2011 at 1:22 pm #

    Well… Went down to help mother with hip replacement and found her old fruit cake receipe.
    I am only one in family that like fruit cake and feel guilty making it. So, I make fruitless and nutless muffins for 6 year old grandson. He loves it. Started asking around and found out many people do not like fruit cake, asked why… Some do not like the candied fruit, to dry (have found store bought can be).
    So, I now buy dried fruit cut up and soak in brandy over night. Wow, the fruit taste so good. Could soak in orange juice if do not want liquor. I found soaking the cheese cloth in Brandy (what I use) every week keeps the fruit cake moist and last for a long time kept cool.
    I now have lost my guilt for making fruit cake, make up a batch take out no fruit batter, then take out some for dried fruit and the rest in fruit cake batter. It works! Would like to find, Cheese Cloth in bulk, andyone knows where?

  9. rosebud February 21, 2011 at 1:28 pm #

    Costco carries a medley of dried fruit and nuts for $10.00, good price for how much it cost for nuts and dried fruit. Just pick out what want to use… It has Peanuts, Almonds, Walnuts, Apples, Kiwi, Mangoes, Papaya, Pineapples, Strawberries, Bananas, Cherries, Rasisins. 3lb 8oz bag for around $10.00, Kirkland Signature bag. item 993156, I would call a head to see if your Costco carries it. They can tell you what store does!

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