- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease and line the bottom and sides of a 9 × 13-inch (22.5 × 32.5 cm) baking pan with parchment paper so that the paper comes up the sides.
- For the bars, beat the butter with the brown sugar in a large mixing bowl using electric beaters, in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or by hand. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
- In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger. Add half to the butter mixture and mix until evenly blended. Stir in the apple cider (or juice), followed by the remaining flour mixture.
- Stir in the raisins, cranberries, apricots, blueberries and pecans until they are fully coated in batter (it will be thick). Spoon into the prepared pan and spread to level it.
- Bake for about 45 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
- For the frosting, beat the butter until smooth using electric beaters or in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add about half of the icing sugar and beat on low speed. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Beat in the cream and vanilla until smooth. Add the remaining icing sugar and beat again on low, then increase to medium-high, until the frosting is fluffy.
- Spread the frosting over the cooled fruitcake bars and let them sit, uncovered, for 1 hour at room temperature before slicing.
Set for the Holidays with Anna Olson, Appetite by Random House, 2018
Photos: Janis Nicolay