To be honest this is more of a st. joseph’s day treat than a christmas one but truth be told they are good any time of year. Be warned this is not a fig newton facsimile. These are spicy and heady; filled with riches wrapped in a buttery italian pastry called pasta frolla. My presentation isn’t typical either. These are typically rolled in a tube-shape and cut in sections. On a cookie tray I find them to stay fresher longer, when presented like this.
italian fig cookies
4 cups flour
2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 cup unsalted butter–cold and cut into pieces
4 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
using a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt a few times to ensure fully mixed. drop in the butter and pulse until the butter has incorporated completely turning the mixture into a powder. add the eggs and vanilla and continue to pulse until the dough forms a ball. remove and wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.
12 oz dried figs (i use calimyrna)
1/2 cup currants or raisins
zest of 1 orange finely grated
1/3 cup blanched, slivered almonds–toasted
1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate–cut into pieces or chips
3 heaping Tablespoons apricot preserves
3 Tbs dark rum
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
light pinch ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
egg beaten with a bit of water for egg wash
powdered sugar glaze or royal icing for decoration
sprinkles for decoration
If the figs are hard and dry, place them in a bowl of hot water to soften, drain and then proceed with recipe. Dice the figs and place in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Stir to fully incorporate. place the entire mixture in the food processor, fitted with steel blade and pulse until you have a paste. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Roll the dough out to 1/4″ and cut with a small round, plain or scalloped cookie cutter. Place just a small bit of fig on top of half the cutouts. Brush a bit of egg wash with a brush on the outer edge of the dough. Place a second piece of dough on top and press with tines of fork or toothpick to seal. Brush top with egg wash. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes. You have to watch to see that they don’t burn, you want them just starting to brown on the bottom. When cool, leave plain or drizzle a bit of powdered sugar glaze (powdered sugar and milk to a runny consistency), or royal icing and add a few sprinkles.