Food Blogger Cookie Swap: Anise-Scented Fig and Date Swirls
This year, Lindsay of Love and Olive Oil and Julie of The Little Kitchen have graciously and geniusly hosted the first annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. I was so excited to hear about this, as I love a good excuse to bake up a huge batch of something sweet, try a new recipe, and share it with fellow foodies (and all in the spirit of the holidays)! I know I’ve previously mentioned my love and appreciation for the fine art of baking cookies, but around the holidays especially, there’s so much nostalgia tied to it that it was hard to resist joining in this massive swap.
When I was a kid, right around Christmas my mom would start baking dozens of cookies. At one point she probably had 6 varieties going, and seeing them all lined up like a sugary army filling our dining room table (with the leaf extender!) was a memorable site. I’d spend my evenings sneaking into those holiday cookie tins to swipe myself another Russian tea cake or maple spritz… have I mentioned I was a chubby kid?
Anyway, for my first Food Blogger Cookie Swap I turned to a book I was gifted last year by Scott’s family: The Gourmet Cookie Book. I love this book, because it spans decades of the magazine’s best recipes so there are tons to choose from, and they each come with a little anecdote about the cookie’s history. I decided to go with the Anise-Scented Fig and Date Swirls, because they seemed first of all, delicious. But also, knowing I had to package and ship the cookies limited me to something that would travel well while staying moist. The fact that these could be done over the course of a few days was also very helpful! I made the dough and filling on a Sunday, rolled up and sugar-coated two logs, and stuck them in the refrigerator until I was ready to slice and bake them a few days later. I highly recommend giving these cookies a try! They’re extremely worth the process, as they’re pretty unique in flavor, stay nice and moist, and Scott claims they’re my “best cookie yet!”
Anise-Scented Fig and Date Swirls (from The Gourmet Cookie Book)
Makes about 3 Dozen Cookies
- 1 cup firmly packed dried figs (as soft as possible), stems removed
- 1 cup firmly packed pitted dates
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated refined sugar
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon ground anise seeds (grind in coffee/spice grinder or mortar and pestle)
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
- 4 oz cream cheese
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/4 cup granulated raw sugar (turbinado or Demerara)
- In a blender purée figs and dates with water and 2 tablespoons refined sugar.
- In a bowl, whisk together flour, anise, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In another bowl with an electric mixer beat together butter, cream cheese, and remaining 1/2 cup refined sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, yolk, and flour mixture and beat until a dough forms. Form dough into a disk. Chill dough, wrapped in wax paper, 1 hour, or until firm enough to handle.
- On a lightly floured sheet of wax paper with a floured rolling pin roll out dough into a 13- by 10- inch rectangle, about 1/3 inch thick. Drop fig mixture by spoonfuls onto dough and gently spread an even layer over dough. Starting with a long side, roll dough jelly-roll fashion into a 13-inch log, using wax paper as a guide. Roll log in raw sugar to coat. Chill log, wrapped in wax paper, 4 hours, or until firm.
- Preheat oven to 350° F. and lightly butter 2 baking sheets. Cut log into 1/3-inch-thick rounds and arrange about 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Bake cookies in batches in middle of oven until pale golden, about 13 minutes, and transfer to racks to cool.