"Christmas isn’t a season. It’s a feeling” by Edna Ferber
This is Day 2 of “The 12 Days of Christmas,” and “Sicilian Fig Cookies” is the recipe I am sharing with you today. We are celebrating figs and walnuts. The fig is very under-rated here in America. Dried figs are a healthy snack. They are low in fats and cholesterol and high in dietary fiber and minerals. They are low in sodium and have good amounts of potassium. This helps to maintain the blood pressure and reduces water retention. Potassium is also important for active muscles and nerves.
There are endless ways to use this sweet and healthy fruit, but one of the best ways is in cookies. Dried figs are mixed with raisins, dates, and walnuts to create a filling for one of the best tasting cookies I have ever had. These cookies are fun to create and very colorful, in true Sicilian fashion. To me baking these cookies mean “Buon Natale” or “Merry Christmas” even if you are not Italian. Hope you enjoy!
Mary Ann Esposito “Ciao Italia”
Yield: 4 Dozen
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 dates)
3/4 cup 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
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.
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.
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. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Lightly grease 2 cookie sheets.
|Photo Courtesy of Dani Messina|
Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool.
Note: 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.
Note: 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.
Till Next Time……
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