Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Cookie Hop

Hellooooooooooo! I feel like a lifetime has passed since I last made an appearance here. Thanksgiving was so fantastic. B and I have started reading aloud to each other in the car, which makes the drive go by in a hot second (note to self: always pack a flashlight). And then there was the incredible food and the walks and the sleeping in and the playing of many games and just general cozy family fun. Truly one of the most relaxing holidays in years.

And then: well, I got some kickass news in the job department. More on that later, but suffice to say that it has caused much toasting and B picking me up and spinning me around and a lot of general squeakiness and hopping around. I am a total hopper; I didn’t even realize it at the time, but people at our wedding reported that I hopped up and down after B said yes. Hop, hop, hop…

And speaking of hop-worthy things, there was a very brief time in my life when I lived in Portland, Oregon. Like, I measure this time in months, it was that brief. I liked Portland just fine, although something was always overwhelming me there: the sheer volume of hipsters, the ever-extending list of places to eat at or bands to see, the fecundity so ferocious that gardening there was more about pruning than coaxing… It wasn’t for me, but I do have a sweet spot for a few things there, including the Fig Tea Cookies from the Pearl Bakery. I love figs, and I will pretty much choose anything figgy when I visit a new bakery because oddly enough fig goodies are kind of rare (and date goodies, but that’s another story). Anyway, these were really more like large fig bars than a cookie, but they were indeed perfect for tea.

So. I fell hard for these, and when B and I visited last year I was so disappointed that they didn’t have them that I left vowing to track down the recipe or die trying. Well. Hello intertubes, I love you – the recipe popped up lickty split, right here. Note: there is an error in this recipe for the crust (it reads “10 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter” – 10 tablespoons is 1 1/4 sticks of butter). But: it doesn’t even matter because this crust recipe is not very good. In fact, when I’m being honest, it wasn’t very good even straight from the bakery. It was fine. Just fine. The cookies were all about the filling, bursting with fig and orange and cloves and brought down to earth by honey and cocoa and toasted walnuts. The filling knocked the cookie crust so far into the background that it was waving unnoticed from a small island somewhere west of far west. So when I made these last time and had a bunch of leftover fig filling, I threw it in the freezer thinking that it would stay there until I found something better to wrap it in.

I bet you know what comes next, don’t you? Longtime readers and eaters will know that I think these are pretty much one of the most amazing cookies to ever come out of my oven. They are gorgeous, fun to make, the dough is amazingly easy to work with and phenomenal tasting, and best of all: you can put whatever ingredients you want in there. My usual is dried apricot, walnuts, pecans, brown sugar, sugar, apricot preserves, and whatever spices sound good that day. They are knockout just like that. But last night I made half of them with the fig filling, and there was a serious amount of freaking out and hopping around in the kitchen. And this morning. And I will probably go home and hop around a little bit tonight just for good measure.

One note: the recipe for the fig filling calls for fresh figs, and I’m sure if you can get them they would be lovely (personal aside: I think it would be a waste of a fresh fig). Dried figs worked just fine.

Rugelach Pinwheels with Fig Filling
From the Sweet On You Bakery via Smitten Kitchen and from the Pearl Bakery

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

12 ounces (about 2 cups) figs, stemmed and soaked in warm water until plump
2/3 cup currants
3 ounces (about 1 1/4 cups) toasted walnut pieces
Finely grated zest of 1 large orange
1/4 cup firmly-packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted after measuring
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2/3 cup honey

1 cup sugar
Any spices you might like to throw in here

* This makes a ton of filling – feel free to halve it, or better yet: make the whole lot of it because it freezes like a dream.

1. Place cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Add sugar and continue processing until fully incorporated. Add flour and pulse just until dough comes together. Divide dough into 2 equal pieces, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

2. Meanwhile, make filling. Place the figs in a saucepan and cover them with water. Bring just to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat, drain, and cool the figs. Once the figs are cooled, combine them in a food processor with the currents, walnuts, and orange zest until finely minced. Add brown sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, nutmeg, coriander, cloves, and honey; pulse to combine. Taste and adjust. Scrape the filling into a bowl.

3. On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1 piece of dough into a rectangle about 1/8-inch thick. Spread a thin layer of fig filling over dough. Roll dough into a log beginning with one of the long sides; wrap in plastic wrap. Transfer dough log baking sheet. Repeat process with remaining piece of dough. Place dough logs in refrigerator; let chill at least 1 hour.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Mix together the sugar and spices for the topping; set aside.

5. Slice chilled dough logs crosswise, about 1/4 inch thick. Toss each cookie in the sugar-spice mixture. Place cookies 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake until lightly browned, 18 to 20 minutes. Lift parchment paper from baking sheets and transfer to a wire cooling rack; let cool.

6. Hop around in delight.


Thankful Paul said...


Susan Tomlinson said...

This made me want to hop around just reading it.

Welcome back.

Zarah Maria said...

I love hopping. There's way to little hopping in life in general, way too few spontaneous outbursts of happiness. We nedd them. And we need them cookies as well, methinks.

queenbeehoney said...

Didn't your Mother ever tell you what happens to girls that bake too many cookies?

These look so delish, hope they show up at Christmas!

dietlind said...

heats! i just put your brownies in the oven. and i accidentally used baking soda instead of powder, so we'll see how they turn out. my new goal is to make every single one of your recipes over the next six months. your blog is so much more inspiring than a boring ole cookbook. oh, and i even followed the measurements and used tablespoons, etc. which i NEVER do. pat me on the back and stick a fudgy brownie in my mouth.

dig this chick said...

Oh I am a hopper too. Congrats on whatever fabulous job new you received!

Thanks for making posts about making food so dang fun to read.

judith said...

aaarrrggghhh! GOOD job news is rare as rubies - tell tell soon soon!

cake said...

i too am a big fan of the fig. and rugelach? sigh. love it so much, i have never dared to make it, but might try now.

i want to hear about the job. please.