My friend Pat sent me her recipe for Fruit Rocks.  It called for all-purpose flour.  That was the easy part.  It also called for a supermarket’s worth of candied fruit, chopped pecans and dates.  The amount seemed like a lot for the quantity of flour.A Miniature Fruitcake Only Better

To my delight, I met Pat and her husband at a cooking class I did in Atlanta in March.  She brought me some of her fruit rock cookies made gluten free.  They were yummy, but very dense.  Chockfull of fruit and nuts, they reminded me of fruitcake.  But they were crumbly, too.  My baker’s instinct told me, indeed, there was too much fruit.

Upon researching this old fashion cookie, I discovered a number of variations.  Some were listed as Russian Rock Cookies.  Others were called Christmas Rock Cookies.  One called for cocoa, another for lemon juice, a third for raisins.

I kept many parts of Pat’s recipe – – the candied cherries, chopped dates, and pecans.  I added cocoa but did not add raisins. Then I created a flour blend – – an enhanced version of my cake and pastry flour from Gluten-Free Makeovers and increased the fat a bit, but not as much as one of the other recipes would have added.  It seemed like the cookies should be delicate, but sturdy enough to keep the chopped fruit suspended.

The results were delicious. These are like “loaded” miniature fruitcakes only better.  The flavor and texture will keep you coming back for more.

One batch makes enough for all your holiday gifts.

Fruit Rock Cookies (makes about 96 cookies)

1 cup white rice flour
1 cup sorghum flour
1 cup cornstarch (or tapioca starch)
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
¾ pound (12 ounces) chopped pecans
1, 4-ounce container red candied cherries, chopped
1, 4-ounce container green candied cherries, chopped
½  pound candied peel and fruit mix
½  pound chopped dates
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter or dairy-free alternative, at room temperature
6 tablespoons Earth Balance organic shortening, at room temperature
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 4 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Set aside.

Blend flours, cornstarch, xanthan gum, salt, cocoa powder, baking soda, and spices.  Whisk until cocoa is evenly dispersed.  Remove ½ cup of flour mixture.

Combine chopped pecans, cherries, peel and fruit mix, and dates.  Toss with reserved ½ cup of flour blend.  Set aside.

Cream sugar with butter and shortening until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat until fluffy.  Add the remaining flour mixture to butter mixture. Stir in lemon juice and vanilla extract.  Add water and stir until mixture is smooth.

Fold fruit mixture into batter, mixing thoroughly.  Drop by teaspoon onto prepared baking sheet, about one inch apart. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes. Do not over-brown.

Store cookies in jars for up to a week or freeze for later use.

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  1. Hi, I’m just wondering what you’d recommend as a substitute for sorghum flour? It’s more or less impossible to find out here in Australia. (We grow it, but it pretty much all goes into making the ethanol for E10 petrol.) I’ve got your cookbook with the flour substitution chart, but I didn’t know if there’d be one in particular you’d use above the others, if you had to. (I don’t have teff, montina or mesquite flours either.)

    • Hi Ruth, I wouldn’t suggest Montina or mesquite flour anyway, certainly not for baking cookies. But you could use corn flour (not starch) or amaranth flour or even chickpea flour. I think any of those would work. Happy Baking and Happy Holidays, Beth

  2. Beth,
    Thanks so much for answering that question about grain-fed beef and chickens.
    It really is logical to realize we don’t eat the stomach of these animals! I
    keep getting this question all the time!
    I love the way this column is shaping up but do have one suggestion, can
    you please use a large type size? It is extremely difficult to read in the
    present form and a real pain to keep changing it on my computer. Am wondering
    if others feel the same way???

  3. I’m one of those who really loved fruitcake so these will be on my list to make. My husband and I watch the History and Discovery channels and found out on one of their programs there is only one place in all of the US that makes the colored candies that go into all fruit cakes made in the US. The comany is called Paradise and it’s in Florida. Just FYI.

  4. I was wondering if the recipe (or any recipe for that matter) would change if I usewd brown rice flour instead of white rice flour.

  5. Jan Niemann says:

    Hello! I do not know if I am celiac or not because I started the diet and have never been tested. I have so very many sensitivities, and rice seems to be worse than wheat. Do you know of any websites that would help me? I just discovered there is a potato milk substitute which I am very excited about. Have you heard anything about it? It is dry milk.
    Thank you for all you do.

    • Hi Jan, Thanks for your note. I hear you about being tested AFTER you’ve given up gluten. Although it’s important to know if you have celiac disease, it’s simply not worth going through the “torture” of eating gluten again. But there are genetic tests that can rule it out. At some point you might want to talk to your doctor about that. Meanwhile, there are lots of wonderful gluten-free flours you can use in place of rice flour. Sorghum flour, chickpea flour, corn flour, amaranth flour, and millet flour are just a few. I talk about all of them in my cookbook, Gluten-Free Makeovers. We also address them at Living Without ( And yes, I believe the potato milk substitute you refer to is Vance’s Dairy-Free. I believe the web site is the same name.

      Hope that helps. Beth

  6. Dear Beth, this isn’t a comment, exactly. I’m Looking for some expert advice on the distinct odor I find in some gluten free products I’ve made. Simply put, they stink! Is this normal? Or is there a particular flour Combination I should avoid? Or is it simply that these flours are fragile and go bad quickly?
    My husband will soon be 68, and has developed health problems recently. The doctors cannot find a cause for his discomfort, so we’re trying one thing at a time. We’re cooking and eating gluten free, and as fat free as possible.
    Thank you for answering my questions. Sincerely, Katie

    • Hi Katie,

      I’m wondering if it’s the tapioca flour that is not appealing to you. I find some brands are a bit gamey. I also have the same reaction to fava bean flour and sometimes chickpea. My suggestion is to do the sniff test: sniff all your flours and see which ones might be offensive. Check the dates, too, as some can become rancid after a while.

      Replace rancid-smelling flours with fresh varieties and things like tapioca flour can be replaced with potato or corn starch.

      Hope that helps, Beth

  7. Hi Beth,

    Do you have a source or brand of safe glazed red cherries? In years past, I thought I was purchasing gluten-free cherries from, but it turns out they are packaged in a facility with wheat.

    Love your blog!


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