Preheat the oven to 400°. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a reusable silpat.
Cream together the butter and sugar, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and mix for another minute.Pro Tip: crack your eggs into a separate bowl and then pour in, this will help avoid any shell pieces in your cookies!
Pour in the buttermilk and vanilla and mix another minute.
In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg.
Add the flour a little at a time to the cookie dough mixture, just until combined.
Stir/Mix in the candied cherries, dates and chopped pecans. Pro Tip: if you want a more pronounced red and green look, save back ½ cup of each color cherries. Then dot the outside of the portioned cookies with the extra pieces.
Drop the dough onto the parchment lined baking sheet, about a heaping tablespoon each.
If using the pecan half, place on top of each cookie, pressing down to adhere and spread the cookie a little.
Bake for 9-11 minutes. They will be done when the very outside edge is just starting to turn golden. They are a very soft cookie so they will seem under done in the center, but will firm up as they cool. Watch the first batch and see how long it takes, then use that time for the remaining batches. If you are baking in batches, place the remaining dough in the refrigerator until needed.
Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way.
Store cookies at room temp for up to 5 days.Pro Tip: the cookies are very moist and tend to stick together. Divide the layers of cookies with some parchment paper or waxed paper.
Freezing Baked Cookies
Wrap the baked and cooled cookies tightly in plastic wrap and then in foil, or place in a freezer safe baggie. Keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Unwrap and thaw at room temp for a few hours before eating.
Portion the dough out into individual cookies, on a cookie sheet that will fit in the freezer. Press a pecan half in the top. Freeze the cookies for a few hours, until solid. Then transfer to a freezer safe container or baggie for up to 6 weeks.
To bake from frozen, place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for about 12-15 mins at 350 degrees. They will not spread as much as the fresh cookie dough.
Buttermilk - The buttermilk is necessary in this recipe as an acid. It helps to activate the baking soda. If you do not have buttermilk you can make your own:Mix ½ cup whole milk with 2 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar. Let it sit for about 5 minutes, then use in place of the buttermilk.Candied Cherries - you should be able to find these at your grocery store in the baking aisle. There will usually be three options: red candied cherries, green candied cherries, and candied fruit mix.I like to buy the red and green cherries for a Christmas look.You can buy the candied fruit mix, but it will also include pineapple.Fruitcake Drop Cookie Tips:
You will probably be baking in batches, so pop the unused dough in the fridge while the cookies bake.
Get the red and green candied cherries for a festive look.
To get a more pronounced red and green color save ½ cup of each colored cherries and dot the outside of the portioned cookies with the chopped cherries.
Do not overcook your fruitcake cookies, they are meant to be very soft and chewy.
Use parchment paper or a silpat when baking your cookies, it makes for an easier release from the pan and a nice golden bottom.