Wednesday, February 9, 2011

X Cookies

Something about these cookies intrigued me. The photo I saw of them was fetching, the technique for making them was interesting, and I don’t think I’d ever seen cookies like these before. I came across them in Baking with Julia, and the recipe was contributed by Nick Malgieri. They’re like a Sicilian homemade Fig Newton except for the shape of course. A fig filling, and let me tell you that was one amazing fig filling, was wrapped in dough, rolled into a long cylinder, and cut into pieces which were sliced on the ends and pulled into an X. This was a little bit of a project compared to simpler drop cookies, but I thought the process was fun since it worked exactly as described with no problems. Regarding that filling, it was a grown-up kind of fig filling full of aromatic and delicious things mixed with dried figs like almonds, apricot preserves, golden raisins, candied orange peel, chocolate, dark rum, and cinnamon. I tasted the filling just after it was pureed and realized it could have been served in bowls for dessert all by itself. There’s only a small amount of chocolate, so it doesn’t taste like a chocolate Fig Newton, but the chocolate with all the other filling ingredients makes it a sophisticated mix of flavors. And, the shape is an X which is appropriate for Valentine’s Day even though I didn’t make any O’s, right?

The pastry and the filling were both made in a food processor, and cleaning between steps wasn’t even necessary. The pastry, or pasta frolla, was made by pulsing flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the food processor before adding chopped, cold butter. The butter was cut into the flour by pulsing, and then eggs were added and mixed to form a dough. The dough was kneaded briefly, formed into a log, and covered and set aside. The bowl of the food processor was set back in place, and the filling was made in it next. That was a pureed mix of chopped dried figs, toasted and chopped almonds, apricot preserves, golden raisins, candied orange peel, and yes I was thrilled to use my own candied orange peel again, chopped semisweet chocolate, dark rum, and cinnamon. There are great tips in the recipe such as reminding you that the dried fruit will not become softer or moister after baking. Therefore, if your dried fruits are too dry, they should be plumped in water and drained before using. Although I was tempted to stop there and just eat the filling with a spoon or maybe save a little to plop on top of yogurt for breakfast the next morning, I did continue with the recipe by forming the filling into a log and cutting that into 12 pieces. The pastry was also cut into 12 pieces. Working with one piece of pastry at a time, it was rolled against the countertop into a rope 15 inches long. Then, it was flattened into a three inch wide rectangle. Don’t even bother with a rolling pin. The dough is very easy to press and flatten into the rectangular shape. Just have some flour nearby to sprinkle on the counter to prevent sticking. Next, one piece of filling was rolled into a 15 inch long rope and set on the pastry. The pastry was rolled around the filling and pressed to seal. That filled rope shape was cut into three inch long pieces. Each piece was cut on each end so the ends could be pulled out to form an X shape. It’s really more complicated to write this than it was to do it. The cookies were baked, cooled, and then topped with confectioners’ sugar.

Even though these cookies involved a pastry dough and rolling and shaping, they were far easier than I expected. The dough behaved perfectly, and making the X shapes was quick and painless. The recipe makes a lot of cookies, five dozen in fact, and they keep well for about a week at room temperature. I stashed several of them in the freezer since even we couldn’t get through that many in one week. Whether it was the shape, the fun of making them, or that incredible filling, these have found a place on my favorites list.



28 comments:

  1. Wow, they sound pretty involved, even if you say they are easier than they seem... NOt sure I would be able to make them, definitely not in this tiny kitchen.

    the fig filling must be awesome!

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  2. What an original shape! I love the filling you used. Yummy!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  3. Ha ha, I'm so glad that you showed those step by step photos. When I read that you roll the dough into a cylinder and then cut slits to make the "X", I totally thought that after cutting the slits, you stuff it with the fig filling. It makes so much more sense to have it pre-filled in the cylinder so it appears when you make the slits. These are so cute! I so want to make them now. They seem so fancy... and I love fig.

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  4. These looks awesome....

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  5. Nick Malgieri is my favorite baker and I love a fig anything......save me one!

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  6. this cookie sounds lovely. i cant wait to make this. i know my husband would love this. thanks for sharing this.

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  7. What a fun cookie. The shape is quite appealing.

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  8. Lovely cookies, an original shape and a delicious filling!!

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  9. You had me at fig filling and now I am absolutely sure that I need to give these a try! If you made some O's to go along with them, they'd be perfect for V-Day!

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  10. Very interesting cookie recipe. Love the way it formed.

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  11. How pretty against the red background! They sound like quite a bit of a project, though. They must have been especially delicious to warrant the work. Reminds me to break out Mr. Malgieri's book again. I've not made many of his recipes but looks like I should remedy that!

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  12. ooo, these look so elegant, thinking now how to make the missin' O's :)))
    love the fig filling, never tried chocolate-fig combo, but i bet it is delicious.
    thanks for sharing the recipe and photos with us
    hope you're having a wonderful Wednesday evening Lisa

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  13. These are so cute Lisa! And so perfect. The filling sounds insanely good - I could definitely eat it with a spoon too.

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  14. We make similar cookies in Lebanon they are pinched with a special brass
    tweezers and shaped like the crown of Christ, for Easter. I love these ones, had seen them before and wanted to make them as well; yours came out just perfect!

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  15. I've never seen cookies this shape before!

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  16. Lisa, they would be perfect for womens day :)) somehow that idea came into my mind :D

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  17. What clever and unusual cookies. I so want to taste these!
    *kisses* HH

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  18. i like when dough behaves itself. these cookies are fun and undoubtedly tasty--thanks for sharing, lisa!

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  19. These look like fun, homemade fig newtons! Love the shape!

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  20. I'd love to bake these with my mom on one of her visits. I'm gaga over figs, and she's gaga over Nick Malgieri, so I'm sure they'd be a hit! Yours looks perfect, Lisa!

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  21. What a cool shape, and the filling sounds amazing, would love to try to make these with my daughter, how fun!

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  22. Wow, these are so unique, I've never seen anything like them! They also sound so tasty with that yummy filling.

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  23. O they look delicious and I haven't seen anything like that before either! Intriguing cookies for sure!

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  24. Me either Lisa., I don't think I've ever seen anything like this, but they sound delicious & look seriously cool :)

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  25. Once again you take on a project that I have only dreamed of attempting. I think I just need a long uninterrupted day in the kitchen to catch up on all the things I want to make. Great job and even though I don't like figs, I'm sure I would love these. Happy Valentine's Day!

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  26. Wow, I love these... so different and so full of flavors that I love!!! You make them look so easy to make... so of course, I want to try them ASAP!!!

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  27. I've borrowed Baking with Julia from the library a few times and I love it. I never tried this recipe, but it sounds so interesting. I like the rustic look of them too.

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  28. Wow, these just sound spectacular and made all the more special with your homemade candied oranges. I am curious about the shape and if it has any special significance.

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