When I saw the recipe assignment for this week, my first react was ‘Ugh. Figs??’. I feared these little cookies, as cute as they are, would taste like fig newton, a “cookie” I would not list among my favorites. But that’s sort of the point of this baking club. To try recipes that are outside your comfort zone. To test out new techniques and flavors, if for no other reason than to say ‘hey – I made that!’. So with these thoughts in mind, I went out to buy all my ingredients. I chose to only make a half batch (which was still 30 cookies!).The dough was pretty straightforward to make. A simple shortbread with not to much sugar. I appreciated the ability to just food process the entire recipe. My only comment was the idea that you could “pulse” your way to a ball of dough. Mine required a full minute or so of constant processing before it got even close. I throw my dough on some wax paper to chill while I was making the fruit goop, but apparently this isn’t that necessary as it isn’t NEARLY as finicky as a pastry dough.
Moving on to the fruit dough. I tossed my figs, preserves, raisins, chocolate and everything else in the food processor bowl and whirled it around. It had a good consistency then and I *almost* left it at that but the recipe called for alcohol and who am I to object? We had no rum on-hand so I used some Tahitian Vanilla Cream Liquor. It’s has the texture of Bailey’s but with a strong vanilla flavor instead of Irish Creme Flavor. Not that it really matter because I couldn’t taste it once it was overpowered by all the fig and chocolate. With the alcohol added I find the fruit goop to be just that: very goopy. Before adding it to my dough I had to roll it around in flour just so it would stick all over my hands. At this point I was still pretty unenthusiastic about these cookies as the fruit goop tasted EXACTLY like a fig newton. I feared I would be stuck with 30 unappetizing cookies. The next few steps I expected to be much harder than it actually was. The recipe calls for you to divide the dough into 12 (6 for me) and rolling each section into a 12in worm of dough before pressing it out in a 3×12 rectangle sleeve for the the 12in long snake of fruit goop you have to roll. I expected my dough (or the fruit goop) to break all over the place but it didn’t. Instead I was pleasantly reminded of play-dough, and squishing it through my fingers when I was a kid. I never even needed my rolling pin so the activity was more like arts and crafts than baking. I found just squeeze the dough the way you kind of milk a cow followed by just rolling it in between your hands got me to the 12in length pretty quickly. Then I just used my fingers/palm to kneed the dough out so it was about 3in wide. It was probably closer to 2in but it only had to be long enough to encase the fruit goop. Once encased it was pretty easy to cut the snakes and slit them into X’s. Easy Peasy. Off to the oven they went. After they were baked I decided to try one, to see just how bad they were. The results? Hey! Not half bad! There’s still an element, a hint of fig newton, but the shortbread taste completely balances out the strong fig taste. Even my husband gave them a thumbs up. Is this something I ever expect him to request again? Probably not. They’re very mild. The type of cookie you could justify eating 5 of because there isn’t that much sugar and there’s fruit inthe middle. Of course, you’re probably eating 5 because they are so mild and don’t really satiate the ‘I need goodies’ craving.
Will I likely make them for any event? Probably not, unless I try some crazy new filling — oooo what about dried cranberries for Xmas?! X Cookies for Xmas! I take it back. I could totally see making those. You wouldn’t even need to change much else. Just swap the cranberries for the figs. Sold.
To check out other variations or experiences with the X Cookies click here.