For Purim this year I made and donated 4 dozen hamantaschen to our California temple for their bake sale. I really, Really, REALLY liked the fig variety and knew there must be another place to use that fig purée. I was considering homemade Fig Newtons®, but those cookies are available in those so-convenient two serving packages I thought, why try to copy perfection? I mean, artists copy Renoirs to hone their artistic skills, but only as an exercise… for practice… right? How could I chance trying to improve my baking skills and thereby perhaps plagiarize perfection?
I thought a fig-filled/short-bread cookie might be a good combination. The slight snap of this buttery cookie and the sweet/tartness of the fig pureé should pair well.
I was right, but the first batch had a minor problem. I tried to roll the shortbread dough thinner than usual for cookies, but it still ended up too thick. I rolled them directly on the parchment paper covered cookie sheet thinking they would be too fragile to move after cutting. I chickened out and still left them about 2x too thick, much like leaving your birdie putt short. (NEVER leave your birdie putt short!) By making the cookie thick, the buttery flavor of the cookie overpowered the fig flavor, so I added additional fig filling for each cookie. (What a shame.) When biting the cookie, the filling squeezes out the sides of the cookie and has to be licked off. (What a shame.)
- 1 cup butter or margarine, softened
- ¾ cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 ½ cups Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour
- Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, beat butter, powdered sugar and vanilla with spoon. Stir in flour. (If dough is crumbly, mix in 1 to 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened.)
- Roll dough ¼” (or less if you can) thick on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Cut into small shapes and remove the excess, combine and roll out again, and again.
- Bake 10 to 16 minutes (depending on thickness of the cookie) or until set and bottoms are light golden brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. I like to slide the parchment paper off the cookie sheet with all the cookies still attached, let cool until cookies release from the paper and leave on the wire rack until cool.
- 1 ½ scant cups chopped, stemmed, dried black figs (about 9 ounces)
- 3/4 cup (177 ml) pomegranate juice
- ⅓ cup (66 grams) sugar
- Finely grated zest of 1 orange
- 1 star anise, or ¼ tsp crushed fennel seeds
- 1 cup water
- In a saucepan, combine the figs, juice, sugar, zest, star anise (or fennel), and 1 cup of water and bring to a boil.
- Simmer over low heat until the figs are softened and the liquid is syrupy and is reduced to about ½ cup.
- Let the figs cool in their syrup, then puree in a food processor until smooth. [If you dislike the taste of star anise, you should remove it before pureeing, but if you do, leave it in.