Sicilian Fig Cookies

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Fig-filled cookies are an absolute must on any Sicilian table. Watch Mary Ann Esposito make Sicilian Fig Cookies at CiaoItalia.com!

Cook time: 25 Minutes

Yield: 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups dried figs, soaked in water
  • 2 cups dried dates, pitted (About 14 Medjool dates)
  • 1 1/2 cups raisins
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup orange marmalade
  • 2/3 cup walnuts or almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large egg white beaten with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
  • Colored sprinkles

Directions

  1. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together into a large bowl. Add the sugar and stir well. Cut in the shortening with a fork and work the mixture until it looks like corn meal. In a bowl, beat the egg, vanilla, and milk together. Add to the flour mixture and work the mixture with your hands into a rough dough.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes, or until smooth. The dough will be soft. Cut the dough into 4 pieces, wrap each piece in plastic wrap, and chill for 45 minutes.
  3. To make the filling, grind the figs, dates, and raisins in a meat grinder or in a food processor until coarse; or coarsely chop. Place the mixture in a bowl, add the honey, cinnamon, marmalade, and nuts and mix well. The mixture will be thick. Set aside.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Lightly grease 2 cookie sheets.
  5. Divide the dough into quarters and work with 1 piece of dough at a time, keeping the remaining dough covered. On a floured surface, roll out each piece of dough to a 12-inch square. Cut the dough into 4-X-3-inch rectangles, and spoon 2 tablespoons of the filling mixture down the center of each rectangle. Carefully fold over the long edges of each rectangle to meet in the center, then pinch the seam to close it securely, and turn the cookie seam side down. Pinch the ends closed and fold the ends under. Shape the cookies into crescents and place seam side down on the cookie sheets. Make 2 or 3 diagonal slits in the top of each crescent with scissors. Brush with the egg wash and sprinkle with colored sprinkles.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

Tips/Techniques

From Mary Ann Esposito: I wrap the crescents individually in plastic wrap, twist the ends, and tie them with ribbons. They make wonderful Christmas presents. They can be made ahead and frozen. You may eliminate the egg wash and make a confectioners' sugar glaze; when the cookies are still warm, drizzle the glaze over them and sprinkle with the colored sprinkles.