I Don't Give A Flying Fig...

Remember everything I said about scaling back my cookie aspirations this year? That was last week, and this is now. The cookie fever has struck.

I tend to go a little loony this time of year. As much as I try in advance to carefully curate a well-balanced lineup of cookies to bake, as the date of the Cookie Bonanza approaches, I begin to experience delusions of grandeur as to how much I can accomplish. This year, this compulsive need to outdo myself has gotten worse than usual, since I decided not to decorate sugar cookies. Without them, I feel like I’ll be letting people down, and providing a sub par gift, even though the decision is completely justified and right for my current circumstances.

Still, with this perceived gaping hole in my repertoire, I started feverishly perusing my piles of cookbooks, magazines, and recipe clippings trying to make up for what I feel to be my shortcomings this year. This, of course, was a big mistake, as I started finding all kinds of recipes that I wanted to make. Every time I go through my recipe sources, I look at recipes I’d seen before with new eyes, and find myself willing to entertain ideas that previously hadn’t appealed to me.

One such recipe I encountered was for a stuffed ravioli-like cookie, with a cinnamon-perfumed dough and a filling of fig preserves (which I conveniently already had in the fridge) and orange zest. I’m a sucker for recipes that I can make with ingredients I already have on hand, so I decided to give them a try. I whipped them up tonight and stashed them in the freezer, unbaked, so that I can simply bake them off over the weekend in time to give them away on Monday, though I did bake a test batch to make sure they weren’t completely horrible before allowing them purchase into the hallowed Cookie Bonanza boxes.

I think the figs, orange, and cinnamon played well together, with somewhat of a Mediterranean overtone, but I do feel that the cookies took more effort to put together than they were worth. Rolling out a perfect 8x12 rectangle of dough was practically impossible, leaving me with cracks where I had patched the dough together that would allow the filling to peek through when the cookies were assembled.  Also, the recipe only makes two dozen cookies, which is somewhat less than ideal for gifting.

If I were to make them again, I’d probably roll out the dough and use a round cutter to shape the cookies, which would create a smoother surface for cutting than trying to piece together a perfect rectangle. Given how time consuming they were, I’m glad I made them in advance, but I’m not sure I’d be including them in the Cookie Bonanza if I had auditioned them months ago. Don’t get me wrong – they’re tasty, they’re just not quite up to snuff.

I don't think I'm going to use the sanding sugar on the final product. It was in the magazine photo, but I think it's overkill.

Orange-Fig Pillows
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

2/3 c. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. fig preserves
1 teaspoon orange zest

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter on high speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much flour as possible with the mixer, and stir in the remaining by hand. Divide dough in half, and refrigerate 1 hour, or until easy to handle.
2. Preheat oven to 375. In a small bowl, stir together fig preserves and orange zest; set aside.
3. On a lightly floured surface, roll half the dough at a time into a 12x8 inch rectangle. Using a pastry wheel (or pizza cutter), trim the edges of the rectangle. Cut the dough into 24 2-inch squares. Place half of the squares 1 inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Spoon 1/2 teaspoon of filling on each square. Top with a second square of dough. Using a fork, gently crimp the edges together to seal.
4. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until edges are golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before eating.

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