Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Fig and Almond Cookies

I recently came across this recipe from Gina DePalma, who is the pastry chef at Babbo, one of Mario Batali's restaurants. It has all the wonderful flavors of Italian cookies, that I remember eating as a child.

The recipe calls for soaking the figs in orange juice to soften them a bit, before incorporating them into the dough.

I made them for our Christmas Eve dinner and got rave reviews. The texture of these cookies is soft and light and the wonderful flavors linger in your mouth..

Fig and Almond CookiesRecipe By :Gina DePalma

8 ounces dried figs -- (about 10 medium) golden-Sicilian or Calimyrna
1/2 cup orange juice1 cup sliced almonds -- toasted and cooled
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 ounces unsalted butter -- (1 1/2 sticks) softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 small orange -- freshly grated zest of
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Additional granulated sugar for coating the cookies

Remove the stems from the figs and cut them into quarters. Place them in a small saucepan with the orange juice and bring the mixture to a simmer. Remove from heat and allow the figs and juice to cool completely.

At the same time, spread the almonds in an even layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Toast the almonds until they are golden brown and aromatic. Remove them from the baking sheet and allow them to cool completely.

Chop the nuts finely in a food processor, transfer them to a small bowl, then chop the figs along with the juice until they are a chunky purée.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together and set aside.

Place the softened butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat them together until the mixture is creamy and light, about a minute.

Beat in the egg yolk, scraping down the sides of the bowl, followed by the orange zest and vanilla.

Beat in the dry ingredients to make a homogeneous dough, then beat in the chopped almonds and figs.

Scrape the dough onto a piece of plastic, wrap it tightly and chill the dough until firm enough to roll, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 325°.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Divide the dough into three even pieces. Roll each piece into a log, about 15 inches long. Cut each log into 3/4-inch pieces.

Roll each piece into a ball, coat the ball with granulated sugar and place on the baking sheet, spaced 3/4 of an inch apart. Flatten the balls slightly with your fingers.

Bake the cookies for 12 to 14 minutes, or until they are golden brown, cracked slightly and firm. Allow the cookies to cool slightly on the baking sheets, then remove them to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough until all the cookies are baked.

Source:"Babbo"Yield:"5 dozen cookies"- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

NOTES : Store the cookies in an airtight container up to a week.