I first saw this recipe over on The Kitchn, where Faith Durand claimed it was her favorite cookie. I tend to like the recipes that Faith recommends, so I took this cookie seriously. She didn’t let me down, they are great. The Fig Newton-lovers of the world will be very pleased with these grown-up versions of those iconic treats.
Unlike the originals, these have contrasting textures that make them a little more sophisticated. The cream cheese dough is soft, but the sugar-coated edges gives them crunch. The inclusion of anise in the dough makes these particularly fragrant and your house smells amazing when they are baking. Also, they are really pretty. I would recommend freezing the dough before cutting so you end up with perfect little swirls. These would make a dramatic entrance to any cookie swap you might be attending.
Fig and Date Swirls (recipe from Gourmet)
- 1 cup packed soft dried figs (8 oz), stemmed and coarsely chopped
- 1 cup packed pitted dates (7 oz), trimmed and coarsely chopped
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons anise seeds, ground
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (I did 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt)
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
- 4 oz cream cheese at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/4 cup granulated raw sugar such as turbinado or Demerara
Purée figs and dates with water and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar in a blender or food processor until almost smooth.
Whisk together flour, anise, baking powder and soda, and salt in a bowl. Beat together butter, cream cheese, and remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at moderate speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in vanilla and yolk until combined well. Add flour mixture and mix at low speed until just combined.
Halve dough and form each half into a rectangle. Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, about 1 hour.
Roll out 1 piece of dough between 2 sheets of wax paper into a 9- by 7-inch rectangle, about 1/3 inch thick. Remove top sheet of wax paper and drop half of fig mixture by spoonfuls onto dough, then gently spread in an even layer, leaving a 1/4-inch border around edges. Starting with a long side and using wax paper as an aid, roll up dough jelly-roll style into a log. Roll log in raw sugar to coat completely. Make another log in same manner. Chill logs, wrapped in wax paper, until firm, at least 4 hours. (I froze mine until fairly solid. It made them easier to cut.)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Cut logs crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices and arrange slices about 2 inches apart on parchment baking sheets. Bake in batches in middle of oven until pale golden, 15 to 17 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies. The cookies keep well for about a week.
Previously, on THE 12 DAYS OF COOKIES:
Day 1: Maple Pecan Cookies