These Ain’t No Doorstops: Healthy, Kid-Friendly Fruitcake Cupcakes

It’s too bad fruitcake doesn’t ever live up to its high expectations. I actually think the name itself implies something wonderful. I mean, what could be so bad about cake + fruit? Well, plenty. And I don’t need to explain why.

The thing is, I still like the idea of a cake made with fruit in it. When I saw this recipe in a health food book, I knew I had to try it. Since it is made with whole wheat, no refined sugar, and egg whites, I had a pretty good feeling it wouldn’t be like the hunks of preservative-loaded sticky, sickly sweet versions you find in the grocery store.

This fruitcake is loaded with chunks of healthy, unsweetened dried fruit, and it isn’t made with alcohol, so it’s perfect for kids. I made mine into cupcakes.

When making this recipe, to keep it healthy, be sure to only use 100% juice concentrate. Don’t use anything that says “drink” or “cocktail” on the label. That will mean they have added sugar or corn syrup to the concentrate.

I heavily adapted this recipe from a book—now out of print—called Desserts to Lower Your Fat Thermostat. If you can find a copy, and want to cook more food like this, with no refined sugars, I definitely recommend it.

Kid-Friendly Fruitcake Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups dried fruit, such as dried apples, dried cherries, dried cranberries, and dried apricots, cut in small pieces
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup 100% apple juice concentrate
1/2 cup 100% orange juice concentrate
3/4 cup fresh cranberries, chopped (try freezing them first, then pulsing in a food processor)
3/4 cup nuts, such as walnuts, pecans, or sliced almonds, chopped
2 egg whites, beaten
3 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup fruit juice sweetened apricot jam (such as Polaner All-Fruit or Smucker’s Simply Fruit brands)
24 pecan halves

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a standard muffin tin with cupcake liners. Set aside. In a medium size microwave safe mixing bowl, combine 1 cup dried fruit and raisins with the juice concentrates. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high until the juices begin to boil. Allow to cool.

2. To the cooled fruit mixture, add cranberries and nuts. In a separate small mixing bowl, combine egg whites, oil, and extracts. Sift in spices, baking powder, baking soda, and flour. Stir to combine (don’t worry, there will be major lumps!). Add flour mixture to the fruit mixture, and stir until well combined. Scoop out batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until centers are firm.

3. In a small microwave safe bowl, microwave apricot jam on high for 25 seconds. Stir in 1/2 cup dried fruit and pecans. Spoon over warm cupcakes and allow cupcakes to cool completely.

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