Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Cookie Explosion #6 - Fig Swirls

I must admit, figs are something that have grown on me as I get older. I think it has to do with not having fresh figs ever until I lived in California. Once I tasted them - I was hooked. They are fantastic. The true beauty, however, is they are perfect on their own.

Now that I don't live in California anymore, it's difficult, not to mention expensive, to get fresh figs. When I do see them, I do buy them, though. And, although I just love fresh figs (especially the black ones), I'm not so sold on dried ones. Sure, they have their uses (like dark chocolate fig oatmeal cookies, which is one of my favorites), but in general, I'm not much of a dried fruit fan.

These cookies changed my mind. They look gorgeous, and taste like a better, more grown up version of Fig Newtons. The pastry is light and flakey, and the filling is full of flavor. The orange juice and honey perfectly compliment the figs. And, don't they look just pretty for the holidays?

A quick not e on these cookies - they don't last, and don't freeze well. Sure, the dough freezes, so you could freeze the dough early, and then assemble and bake when you are ready, but the filled cookies don't freeze very well in my opinion, and the completed cookies lose a lot of texture when frozen.

Fig Swirls
Recipe courtesy of Gourmet Magazine, December 2005

For the dough:

1 3/4 c. flour
1/4 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 egg yolk
1 t. vanilla

For filling:

1 c. packed soft dried mission figs (8 oz)
3/4 c. mild honey
2 T. orange juice
2 t. orange zest
1/2 t. cinnamon

To make the dough:

Mix butter, cream cheese, egg yolk, and vanilla until very well combined. Add dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt) and mix until it just comes together. You can do this in a food processor, but I used a fork and my hands. Divide dough in 1/2 and chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, at least 90 minutes

To make the filling:

Puree figs, honey, juice, zest, and cinnamon in a food processor until almost smooth.

Assembling the cookies:

Roll out one piece of the dough into a 10x8 rectangle. Since this dough is kind of sticky, it's easiest to roll out between 2 pieces of wax paper and make sure to keep the dough cold. Spread 1/2 the filling on your dough, leaving a small border so you don't spill, and roll up into a 10" log.

Repeat with remaining ingredients and refrigerate logs until very firm, at least 4 hours, or up to 2 days.

Baking the cookies:

Preheat oven to 375. Cut logs into 1/3 to 1/2" thick slices and arrange on parchment paper lined cookie sheets about 2" apart. Bake until pastry is golden, 12-15 minutes. Cool on racks. Can be stored in airtight container up to 1 week.

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