Wednesday, December 27, 2006


This one - a Sicilian pastry filled with rum-soaked figs - is like an adult version of fig newtons. I was a bit intimidated by the recipe ... rolling pins are not my friends, and there seemed far too many steps to follow. I was surprised how easy it all was in the end. Next time I might make the strips thicker, so that I can fill them with more figs. One person suggested they would be better without the icing, but I liked the sugar. Another recipe used an anise-flavored icing, which might be a good. Again, I pulled this one off of Epicurious, and have printed my adapted version below.


For filling
  • 1 cup dried black figs (8 oz), hard tips discarded
  • 3/4 cup raisins (3.75 oz)
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup black rum
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated fresh orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup whole almonds (4 oz), toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup walnuts (3 oz), toasted and coarsely chopped

For pastry
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh orange zest

For icing
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • a few drops orange oil

Garnish: multicolored nonpareils

Make filling:
Pulse figs and raisins in a food processor until finely chopped, then stir together with remaining filling ingredients in a bowl. Chill, covered, at least 8 hours.

Make dough:
Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add butter and blend with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) just until most of mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Add eggs, milk, vanilla, and zest and stir with a fork until a soft dough forms. Halve dough and gather each half into a ball, then flatten each half into a rough 6- by 4-inch rectangle between sheets of plastic wrap. Chill until firm, at least 8 hours.

Form cookies:
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Roll out 1 rectangle of dough (keep remaining dough chilled) into a 15- by 14-inch rectangle on a well-floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Trim to a 13- by 10-inch rectangle (chill trimmings), then cut into 4 (10- by 3 1/4-inch) strips.

Arrange 1/3 cup filling in a 1-inch-wide log lengthwise down center of each strip, then fold sides of each strip up over filling to enclose it, pinching edges together to seal. Turn rolls seam-sides down and press gently to flatten seams.

Cut logs crosswise with a floured knife into 1 1/2-inch-wide slices and arrange 1/2 inch apart on buttered large baking sheets.

Bake cookies in batches in middle of oven until golden around edges, 16 to 20 minutes.

Transfer cookies to racks and cool until warm, about 10 minutes.

Make icing while first batch of cookies bake:
Whisk together confectioners sugar, vanilla, and enough orange juice to make a pourable icing. Brush icing on warm cookies and decorate with nonpareils (if using), then cool completely.

Makes about 5 1/2 dozen cookies.

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