Fig Cookies

Despite our pleas at the grocery store, my mom was never one to keep sugary sweets and salt-laden junk food in the house. But the one cookie I could count on finding in the cookie jar was Fig Newtons. This was an entirely unimpressive option for any friends who came to play, but I developed a craving for the chewy, subtly sweet fig paste enrobed in soft, buttery cake. And while I still have a soft spot for those iconic little squares, I had a lightbulb moment back in culinary school when I realized I could make my own fig cookie.

This was a bit easier said than done. My experimentation led me to a variety of fig jam fillings and cookie dough recipes, but none left me certain that I had improved upon the original. I had almost given up on my quest, until I tried the Figs and Black Tea Preserves from Quince and Apple.  Floral, earthy, and sweet, these preserves inspired another attempt. Here, I've adapted a recipe from Chez Panisse Fruit (who, in turn, adapted it from Healdsburg, California's Downtown Bakery and Creamery). The crumb is tender but sturdy enough to hold its shape, and with a jar of fig preserves on hand, half the work is already done.

Fig Cookies
makes about 35 cookies 

2 1/ 2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon heavy cream
2/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 eggs
1 jar fig preserves

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.

In another large bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, cream and brown sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, completely incorporating them. Add the dry ingredients and continue to mix (on low) until just combined. Divide the dough into two equal balls, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 350°F. 

On top of two lightly floured pieces of parchment paper, roll out each ball of dough into a 1/8-inch-thick rectangle about 6 inches wide and 15 inches long. Spread half the jar of fig preserves in a 3-inch wide band lengthwise, down the center of each rectangle. Using the parchment paper (not your fingers) to manipulate the dough, encase the filling by folding one long side of the dough over it so that it covers a little more than half the jam.

Fold the other side over to cover the rest of the jam, the edges of the two sides overlapping in the middle by about 1/4 inch. Pinch the dough together at each end to completely seal in the filling. Brush off any excess flour. Lifting from underneath the paper again, roll the entire log over so that the seam is on the bottom. Brush off any excess flour from this side too, then transfer each log, still on parchment, to a baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes, just until golden. While the logs are still warm, cut at a slight angle into 3/4-inch-thick bars. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container.


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