Fig Half Moons
FIG HALF MOONS
Fig is a popular filling for pastries and cookies at Christmastime, especially in the Italian Tradition. Here, an orange-scented fig paste is tucked into rich pastry dough that is formed into half-moon shapes. A little more work than the average cookie, these treats are well worth it.
COOKIE CUTTER NEEDED: 3 inch round ( or use rim of glass)
FOR THE FIG FILLING: Combine the figs, orange juice, brandy, sugar and cinnamon in a medium saucepan. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce heat to moderate, cover and simmer for 5 minutes or until the liquid is reduced by about half and the figs are softened. remove from the heat and cool ( uncovered).
PROCESS the figs and the liquid in a food processor until the mixture is a thick paste. This can be made up to 1 week ahead and refrigerated.
FOR THE PASTRY DOUGH : Place the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. Pulse once to combine. Add the butter and cream cheese and process just until the dough starts to clump together. Pinch the dough: It should feel moist and stick together. If not, pulse a few more times. Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and gather it into a ball. Divide it half, press each half into a disk, and wrap separately in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
PREHEAT the oven to 350° F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
WORKING with one disk at a time, roll out the dough on a floured surface to a 1/8 to 3/16 inch thickness. The thinner the better but not so thin that it tears. Using the cutter, stamp out circles close together. Re-roll scraps.
USING a thin metal spatula, transfer the circles to a sheet of wax paper. Place a rounded teaspoonful of fig paste on one half of each dough circle at least 1/4 inch away from the edge. Using a pastry brush, dab a tiny bit of egg wash along the edge of the dough in a semi-circle around the filling. Fold the half the circle without the fig filling over the filling to enclose, forming a half-moon shape. gently press the edges together to seal.
PLACE the half-moons on the prepared cookie sheet, arranging them about 1 1/2 inches apart. Crimp the sealed edges with the tines of a fork. You can assemble and refrigerate the half-moons up to 1 day ahead : or freeze them on a cookie sheet, then wrap them up in a sturdy plastic bag. Freeze up to 2 months. Thaw at room temperature for about 1 hour before continuing the recipe.
LIGHTLY brush the tops of the half-moons with the egg wash and sprinkle liberally with coarse sugar. Bake for 20 – 23 minutes or until or until nicely golden. For even baking, rotate the cookie sheet from front to back halfway through baking. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool.
STORE: In an airtight container for up to 5 days, but these are best within 2 days of baking. To freshen and re-crisp, heat on a baking sheet in a 375° F. oven for 3 or 4 minutes.
2 cups ( about 12 ounces ) halved dried Calimyrna (golden) figs, hard tips dicarded
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup brandy or water
1 1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks ) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch slices
8 ounces cream cheese cut into chunks
1 large egg whisked with 1 teaspoon cold water
Coarse white sugar, for sprinkling on cookies
20 – 30 minutes