Summer cookouts outside mean gathering around the grill and while there’s something scintillating about open flame foods, keep your cool with a lady finger icebox cake.
What is an Icebox Cake
The premise of an icebox cake is simple: whip cream, spread it between layers of cookies and chill. But, of course, we can’t help but jazz it up with a crunchy chocolate drizzle, soft ladyfinger cake-like cookies, and coffee-soaked Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid Dried Mission Figs.
Mocha lady finger icebox cake is the kind of cake you can slice once chilled and set, or if you want to dip the lady finger cookies in the fig-scented leftover coffee, letting them soak, plan on chilling in a trifle bowl and scooping the dessert into pretty glasses or bowls.
1(8-ounce) bagBlue Ribbon Orchard Choice Mission Figlets or Sun-Maid Mission Dried Figs, stemmed and sliced crosswise
8 ouncessemisweet chocolate chips, feves, or chopped bar, melted
1(7-ounce) baglady fingers
Soak half the sliced figs in the hot coffee for 10 minutes, or while you assemble the rest of the cake. Drain the figs on a paper towel lined plate and reserve the coffee.
Whip the cream, adding in the confectioner’s sugar in 1 tablespoon increments and vanilla once it starts thickening. As you start seeing soft peaks, scoop in the mascarpone and finish whipping.
Then, mist the pan with cooking spray. Spread a thick layer of whipped mascarpone cream on the bottom. Crumble half a sleeve of ladyfingers evenly over the whipped cream. Dot the coffee-soaked figs across the crumbled lady fingers. Drizzle the chocolate with a fork, reserving 1 tablespoon of chocolate. Cover with a layer of half the remaining whipped cream.
Layer the remaining lady fingers on top. Spread the remaining whipped cream on top of the ladyfinger layer. Using a spoon, dollop the remaining melted chocolate in several places on top, dragging a chopstick or skewer through them to swirl the chocolate. Polka dot the remaining unsoaked fig slices across the top.
Chill for 4 hours or longer before slicing so the cake sets.
If you want more of a tiramisu-style dessert, swap in the following instruction in place of step 4 above: Quickly soak the remaining ladyfingers in the reserved coffee dipping and turning each one before placing them atop and covering the fig chocolate layer. Spread the remaining whipped cream on top of the ladyfinger layer. Using a spoon, dollop the remaining melted chocolate in several places on top, dragging a chopstick or skewer through them to swirl the chocolate. Polka dot the remaining unsoaked fig slices across the top.
Matzoh—flat, cracker-like bread—is the traditional food for the Jewish holiday of Passover, when Jews are forbidden to eat bread or other leavened foods. One of the most delicious and indulgent ways to dress up plain matzoh is to drench it in buttery toffee and rich chocolate. This is a beloved tradition among Passover dessert recipes that Jewish families look forward to all year, especially after eating preserved lemon chicken with almonds and California Figs.
Turn basic matzoh into an elegant, no-bake chocolate toffee matzoh by topping it with traditional Sephardic ingredients such as chopped Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice and Sun-Maid California Figs and green pumpkin seeds (pepitas). For extra color and a hint of spice, you can also add pink and white peppercorns. This beautiful confection is a fitting way to end a Passover Seder or simply keep it around as a snack to enjoy during the eight day-long festival. It’s almost impossible to resist! When it’s not Passover, this same technique can be used to make California Fig and chocolate toffee with Saltines or other crispy, flat crackers.
2tablespoonsLyle’s Golden Syrup or light corn syrup
1(12 ounce) bagsemisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2cupsBlue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Figs, stemmed and diced
1/4cupgreen pumpkinseeds (pepitas)
1tablespoonpink or white peppercorns (optional)
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place two boards of matzo on each baking sheet.
Melt butter in a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed saucepan.
Add sugar, water, and syrup to the pan and stir to dissolve the sugar. Once sugar is dissolved, do not stir again. (Stirring can cause the sugar to crystallize and make the toffee grainy. If sugar crystals appear on the side of the saucepan, brush them down with a pastry brush dipped in water.)
Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat and boil until caramel reaches the hard crack stage (300°F) on a candy thermometer), approximately 8 to 10 minutes. You will see the mixture darken, and it will begin to smell like caramel.
Pour toffee mixture over matzoh and spread evenly. Allow toffee to firm up for a few minutes.
While toffee is cooling, place chocolate chips in a glass bowl and microwave on medium power for 30 seconds. Stir. (If chocolate is not completely melted, continue microwaving for thirty-second intervals and pausing to stir until melted.)
When toffee is set, pour melted chocolate over matzoh boards and spread with an offset spatula to coat toffee evenly.
While chocolate is still warm, top each piece of matzoh with chopped figs, pepitas, and peppercorns, if using.
Allow chocolate to cool completely, about one hour. Break into pieces with your hands. Store chocolate toffee matzoh in an airtight container.
Note: When making toffee, it’s important to add an inverted sugar, such as corn syrup, to prevent the granulated sugar from crystallizing. However, many people do not consider corn syrup to be kosher for Passover. Thus, I suggest using Lyle’s Golden Syrup, which is a British cane syrup for use in Passover dessert recipes. You can find it in better grocery stores or online.
When it comes to Snacking cake is just a sneaky way of bringing cake into morning or afternoon snacks and we are all in when it comes to this moist fig cake that couldn’t be easier to bake. Essentially, you whisk the dry ingredients, fluff the butter and sugar, and alternate between adding the buttermilk and flour until just combined. Then, you stir in walnuts and California Figs. And, you could stop there, dusting it with powdered sugar. But the Greek yogurt frosting for cake adds a tangy flavor that might make you swipe the bowl. Yogurt, figs, and walnuts are a classic breakfast combination, so we have a hunch you’ll far hard for this moist fig cake.
1cupBlue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid Mission Figs, stemmed and coarsely chopped
Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease the 9×9’’ cake pan.
In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom, and salt. Set aside.
In a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Next, add egg and mix on medium-low until fully combined.
Add vanilla to container with buttermilk, and gently mix. With the mixer on lowest speed, add flour mixture and buttermilk in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour. After the last addition of the flour, scrape down the sides, then add the walnuts and figs and fold everything together a few times by hand with a spatula.
Pour batter into the prepared pan, and bake for about 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Place the cake on a wire rack and cool completely.
Make the frosting: Beat the yogurt and cream cheese together with a standing or hand-held mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and pinch of salt, and continue beating until light and fluffy. Taste and add more sugar if desired.
Once the cake has cooled, top with Greek yogurt frosting and garnish with figs.
Equipment: 9×9-inch cake pan, standing or handheld mixer, medium bowl, whisk, spatula, cooling rack
The Iranian New Year, known as
Nowruz, falls on March 21 at the Spring equinox. The holiday is all about fresh
starts, the reawakening of nature, and encouraging good things like abundance,
fertility, good health, and sweetness in the coming year. At Nowruz it’s
customary to serve and gift small sweets, known as shirini, which are typically enjoyed with a glass of hot black tea.
With their fragrant hint of rosewater and cardamom, these coins would be
perfect on a New Year platter or serve a plate of these Persian desserts at
This dessert calls for both rose petals and rosewater, ingredients used frequently in Persian cuisine, both for their delicate floral flavor and striking appearance. A little goes a long way in rosewater recipes, so you’ll find this adds just enough rose essence. While rosewater is available at many Whole Foods markets, culinary grade rose petals are mostly found in Middle Eastern and Indian grocery stores, tea shops, and online; if you can’t find them you can make the pistachio crust with just the nuts and powdered sugar, but the rose and Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice and Sun-Maid California Figs are the stars in this rosewater recipe.
2tablespoonspistachios, toasted and salted, plus extra for garnish
2tablespoonsdried culinary rose petals, plus extra for garnish (optional)
3tablespoons almond flour
4Medjool dates, pitted
1cupBlue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Figs, stemmed
Make the Coating for the Coins
In a food processor, combine the powdered sugar, pistachios, and cardamom, and pulse to form a coarse meal. Add the rose petals and pulse a few times, until the petals are broken down slightly but you can still see shreds of pink. Transfer to a sealed jar until ready to use.
Make the Pistachio Fig Coins
Place the almond butter, almond flour, dates, rose water, and salt in the food processor and pulse until the mixture is smooth, scraping down the sides with a spatula as needed. Add the California Figs and pulse a few times until they’re just broken down but the mixture still has a firm, springy texture. Transfer to a clean work surface.
Divide the fig dough into two equal size balls. With lightly oiled hands, roll each ball into a compact log 7” long by 1” in diameter. Chill the logs in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or ideally overnight, before slicing.
Spread the coating in a rimmed dish. Using a serrated knife, slice the logs into ¼-inch thick coins. Working in batches, toss the coins in the coating until they are completely covered on both sides.
Arrange the coins on a platter. Coarsely chop a spoonful of the extra pistachios and sprinkle them on top. Take a generous pinch of the extra rose petals and crush them in your palms over the platter. Serve with hot black tea.
Store the coins in a parchment-lined cookie tin along with any extra coating, so you can quickly touch them up before serving.
Make the coin filling the night
before, so it firms up and can be easily sliced into rounds before tossing in
the pistachio crust. The coins store well in the refrigerator for up to 2
weeks, but the white appearance of the powdered sugar will fade, so keep extra
powdered sugar on hand for a quick touch-up.
One of the traditional foods for the Jewish festival of Purim is a triangular cookie known as hamantaschen, said to represent the three-cornered hat worn by the Purim story’s villain, Haman. These cookies are usually filled with fruit jam or a poppy seed paste. In this easy hamentaschen recipe, fig puree using Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Figs provides the filling for these buttery, orange-scented cookies. Dip a corner of fig hamantaschen into melted chocolate for an extra-special treat! Cookies will keep for 2-3 days in an airtight container.
10tablespoonsunsalted butter, cut into small cubes
6ouncesBlue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Figs, chopped (about 1 1/3 cups chopped figs)
4ouncessemisweet chocolate chips
Additionalorange zest and crushed pistachios for garnish (optional)
Make Hamantaschen Dough
Place the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and process for a few seconds until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, vanilla extract and the zest of the orange. Add the egg mixture to the food processor and process for thirty seconds. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, gather into a ball and knead until it comes together. Divide dough in half and form into two discs. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
Prepare the Fig Filling
In a medium saucepan, combine the chopped figs, sugar, 3/4 of a cup water, and the juice from the orange. Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the figs have softened, about 6-8 minutes. Remove mixture from heat and stir in the vanilla extract and the cardamom. Allow to cool slightly. Puree the fig mixture with an immersion blender or transfer to a food processor and puree.
Make the Cookies
Remove one of the disks from the refrigerator and let it sit on the counter for 5-10 minutes to make it easier to roll out. Preheat oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. Roll out dough on a well-floured surface with a floured rolling pin to 1/4 inch thickness. (Do not roll them too thin or the filling will leak.)
Using a 4-inch round cookie cutter, or round drinking glass, cut out circles of dough.. Gather up the scraps and roll them out a second time to cut out more circles. (You should be able to get a dozen circles.) Place 6 circles on each cookie sheet.
Fill the Fig Hamantaschen
Spoon a teaspoon of the fig puree in the center of the dough circle.
Create the classic triangle shape for the fig hamantaschen, by doing a series of three folds. First, fold one side of the cookie in so that the edge comes to the middle of the jam filling. Fold the second side in the same way and so that it partially covers the first side. Finally, fold the remaining side up and in so that it overlaps the other two sides. Pinch the seams together. Chill the cookies for at least ten minutes prior to baking.
Bake for 15 minutes until the cookies are golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Repeat with the remaining disk of dough.
Make Chocolate Glaze
Place the chocolate in a glass bowl and microwave on medium power for 30 seconds. Stir. (If chocolate is not completely melted, continue microwaving for thirty second-intervals and stirring until melted.)
Dip one corner of each cookie into the melted chocolate. While chocolate is still wet, sprinkle on orange zest and/or crushed pistachios, if using. Return cookies to a cooking rack to allow the chocolate to harden.
An almond roulade is another name for an almond roll cake made with almond flour. Instead of buying the almond flour, you can easily make it at home in your food processor. There’s no flour used, so the roulade is a naturally gluten-free dessert. Try this recipe for your next event and perhaps even as a buche de Noel for Christmas (with mushrooms made of meringue).
This recipe may look complicated, but all the steps are easy! Make the sweet fig paste recipe with our Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid mission figs a day or two ahead of making the cake. While the cake is baking and cooling, make the mascarpone cream and chocolate glaze. You can even make the entire dessert a day ahead – cover and chill.
For a clean platter, line your plate or platter with parchment or wax paper, top with the rolled cake and then cover with the chocolate glaze. Remove the paper before serving.
In a saucepan, combine figs, orange juice, granulated sugar, zest and salt. Cover and bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook for another 8 to 10 minutes or until figs are soft and 1/4 cup juice remains. Remove from heat and cool. Spoon into a blender or food processor; whirl to a smooth paste. This fig paste recipe can be made up to 2 days ahead. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator.
Make Almond Roulade
In food processor bowl, combine almonds, 1/2 cup granulated sugar and cornstarch. Pulse until almonds are finely ground. Set aside.
Adjust oven rack to middle position. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a large 11-x-17-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large, clean mixing bowl, combine egg whites and cream of tartar. Beat on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar and almond extract; continue beating until stiff peaks form. With a spatula, gently fold in almond mixture. Spread in an even layer on parchment-lined sheet.
Bake on middle oven rack for 18 to 20 minutes or until top is dry and color is light golden. Cool in pan on wire rack. While cake cools make Mascarpone Cream and Chocolate Glaze.
Make Mascarpone Cream
Combine mascarpone and salt in a bowl. Beat with electric mixer on low speed until smooth. While mixing, slowly pour in cream. Add powdered sugar and increase speed to medium; beat until soft peaks form. Beat in vanilla. Cover and chill.
Make Chocolate Glaze
Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring the cream and salt to a simmer. Slowly stir the hot cream into the melted chocolate and stir until smooth. Cool.
Assemble Roll Cake
Cover cake with a piece of parchment; invert onto a large flat cutting board or (or inverted baking pan the same size as the baked cake). Remove the baking pan and very carefully peel the parchment away from the cake. Spread the fig paste evenly on cake. Top with the mascarpone cream. Starting at one of the short ends, roll up cake around the filling. Place, seam side down, on a platter. Spread the chocolate glaze over the cake. Chill until ready to serve or up to 1 day ahead of serving. To serve, cut roulade into slices.
If you’ve never made a mille-crepes cake before, the good news is that even a beginning baker can pull off this stunning dessert. The idea behind this crepe cake recipe started with buckwheat crepes, also known as a galette, traditional from the Brittany area of France. With buckwheat as the main ingredient, they don’t use any wheat and are naturally gluten-free. That’s a plus in our book since it means more kinds of eaters can enjoy it. If you’re not up for making the whole crepe cake recipe right now, you can make the buckwheat crepes and fig hazelnut ganache for a decadent breakfast.
Sandwiching the layers of the mille-crepes cake is a mission fig hazelnut ganache you will want to spoon on everything! Trust us, we tried it on toast, swirled into yogurt and even spread it on sliced bananas. It’s like Nutella’s grown-up cooler cousin because the Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice and Sun-Maid California Figs really ramp up the flavor. We are always open to chocolate and fig desserts but this is our new favorite! It looks harder to make than it is. Like the first pancake which is usually the experiment / trial run, the swirling of the crepe batter takes practice, but you get a lot of opportunities to practice with this cake. Plus, if you have a few crepes that don’t look perfect, they will all get covered with the fig hazelnut chocolate ganache, so no one has to know and you can put less than perfect crepes at the bottom or in the middle of the stack.
Plan ahead for this crepe cake recipe: since there is no gluten in buckwheat and buckwheat isn’t great at binding, the batter needs to cure in the refrigerator, letting all the ingredients meld and chill for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight. A small slice of this mille-crepes cake is all you need since this cake is rich. You can also garnish it with a dollop of freshly whipped cream and extra roughly chopped hazelnuts and mission figs.
1/2cuptoasted hazelnuts (plus more for garnish if desired)
Make the Mille-Crepes Cake
Heat the milk, whisking in cocoa powder, vanilla, and sugar until combined over medium low heat for 5 minutes, whisking occasionally until combined and warm. Cool for 5 minutes.
Using a whisk or fork and bowl, or blender, combine the buckwheat flour, salt, butter, eggs, and warm cocoa milk together until smooth. Transfer to a bowl. Cover and chill the batter for at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight.
When ready to make the crepes, whisk 1/2 cup water into the batter. Place a large dinner plate or sheet pan on the stovetop next to where you will be cooking.
Set an 8-inch nonstick skillet or crepe pan over medium heat. Drop a small knob of unsalted butter into the pan, swiping around the sides with a paper towel to coat the bottom. Turn the heat down to medium low. Taking the pan off the heat, pour and swirl in 3 tablespoons but no more than 1/4 cup batter into the pan, tilt and swirl off the heat spreading the batter over itself in the middle until the batter stops moving. Place the pan back on the stovetop and cook for 1 minute and 30 seconds or when the top looks more dry and the edges have begun to release from the sides of the pan. Nudge a flexible spatula underneath and flip, cooking on the other side for 30 seconds. Place the crepes in a stack on the plate or sheet pan. Repeat until you’ve cooked all the batter.
Make the Fig Hazelnut Ganache
Place the cream and California Mission Figs in a small saucepan set over medium low heat, for about 5 minutes. Tumble the chopped chocolate or chocolate feves into a medium sized bowl. Place a strainer on top of the bowl and pour the cream through the strainer onto the chocolate below. Ignore the cream and chocolate for 3 minutes. Transfer the figs from the strainer to a food processor along with the salt and hazelnuts. Stir together the cream and chocolate until smooth. Then, transfer to the food processor. Process until smooth.
Assemble the Mille-Crepes Cake
Place a crepe on a cake stand or whatever surface you plan on presenting it. Select your 20 best crepes. Using an offset spatula, spread about 2 tablespoons evenly across the crepe. Top with another crepe. Continue the crepe and ganache layers until you’ve used up all the crepes. Dollop and spread the rest of the ganache on top of the cake. You can scatter chopped toasted hazelnuts on top or slices of dried mission figs. Chill for 2 hours before serving.
Pockets of soft figs punctuate the tender crumb of this deeply chocolatey gluten free cake smothered in creamy ganache. You don’t have to be gluten free to enjoy this moist cake—you’ll never guess it’s gluten-free! Store the flours in the freezer and that makes it easy to bake this gluten free chocolate cake recipe whenever you get the urge, since most of the other ingredients are staples that you might already have in your pantry. While you can use measuring cups to portion out the ingredients, if you have a kitchen scale, this is a two bowl kind of loaf cake. and one that everyone can enjoy. Chocolate and California Figs from Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice and Sun-Maid are natural partners to pair in baking and this is a cake you don’t want to miss!
HandfulBlue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Figs, stemmed and sliced into rounds
Handfultoasted sliced almonds, optional
Sprinklecoarse pink salt or flaky sea salt, optional
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350ºF. Butter a loaf pan and line on all sides with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together oil, brown sugar, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together cocoa, sweet rice flour, almond flour, oat flour, tapioca flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt, adding back anything that gets caught in sifter. Stir flour mixture into egg mixture until combined. Stir in chocolate and figs.
Scrape batter into pan and bake until a toothpick inserted near center comes out with moist crumbs, 55-65 minutes.
Let cake cool 15 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.
To make ganache, heat cream in small saucepan to a simmer. Place chocolate in small heatproof bowl and pour hot cream over. Let sit 1 minute, then add salt and vanilla and whisk smooth.
Let ganache sit until thickened slightly, 20-30 minutes, then pour over cake. Let sit until ganache is mostly set, 10-20 minutes, then decorate top with sliced figs, almonds, and coarse salt. Cut cake into slices using a large, sharp chef’s knife dipped in hot water and wiped clean between each cut.
Store cake at room temperature for up to 1 day or refrigerate for up to 4 days.
When it comes to dessert recipes with dried figs, we’ve got you covered! Here are a few of our favorites with some bar cookies and confections that are easy enough to whip up for a weeknight celebration to once-a-year gatherings too featuring Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice and Sun-Maid California Figs.
This is quite possibly the quintessential chocolate and fig combination. It doesn’t hurt that with a handful of ingredients, you can dip and devour these confections in no time. Plus, chocolate dipped figs make a pretty gift!
What happens when chocolate, figs, and hazelnuts walk into a bar—all kidding aside, this trio is made to party together in a bar cookie that’s a bit like toffee or a millionaire shortbread with a sandy cookie base and candied top of glossy chocolate, toasted hazelnuts and California Figs.
What makes a good chewy chocolate chip bar cookie—this is at the heart of how to make blondies. Adding in California Golden Figs or Mission Figs creates an extra level of texture in a bar cookie that’s particularly good while warm.
The name doesn’t do these addictive chocolate and fig bars justice. Sure, they’re like rocky road with almonds, and mini marshmallows mixed together in smooth chocolate. What makes them exceptional is the chopped Mission Dried Figs and graham crackers that also evokes a campfire classic of s’mores in a no-bake bar.
You don’t have to be a white chocolate fan to appreciate these oatmeal cookie bars. The white chocolate drizzle and California Figs elevate the flavors of a typical oatmeal cookie, sliced and ready to dunk in your favorite milk.
Filled with Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Dried Figs, raisins, dates, almonds, honey or jam, orange or lemon peel, and scented with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, Cuccidati are traditional Italian fig cookies served at Christmas and especially favored by Italian-Americans around the holidays. It is not too farfetched to speculate that Arab influence in Southern Italy could be responsible for their assortment of dried and fresh fruits and alluring spices. The filling of this Italian fig cookie recipe is wrapped in buttery dough, which is much like pasta frolla, a soft and sweet Italian pastry dough. Sometimes the cookies are shaped into fat little logs, but they can also take the shape of an X, or a crescent with filling peeking out of small slits cut into the ends of the cookie before it is baked. You can choose one or make all three!
The cookies take a bit of work but you will find it easier if you break it down. 1) Make and chill the dough 2) make the filling 3) roll and chill the dough 4) shape the filling 5) Wrap the dough around the filling 6) Chill the filled logs 7) Shape the cookies and brush with egg wash 8) Bake the cookies 9) Make the glaze and glaze the cookies. Don’t forget to breathe and enjoy—cookie season is here!
1cup (2 sticks)cold, unsalted butter, cut into thick slices
Filling for Italian Fig Cookies
8ouncesBlue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Dried Mission Figs
1 1/2teaspoonsground cinnamon
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
3tablespoonsMeyer's dark rum or Grand Marnier
Icing for Italian Fig Cookies
2 1/2cupsconfectioner's sugar
Make the Dough for the Italian Fig Cookies:
In a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt a few times to mix them. Add the butter pieces and pulse until the dough resembles small crumbs. Add the eggs, and pulse until the dough more or less forms a ball. It is a very forgiving dough, so don’t fuss too much.
Tip the dough onto a work surface and knead it two or three times just to bring it together. Line an 8- or 9-inch square pan with a long piece of plastic wrap. Press and flatten the dough into the pan. Cover with the overhanging plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, or until firm. The dough can be refrigerated for up to five days if you want to shape and bake the cookies later.
Make the Filling for the Italian Fig Cookies:
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. On a baking sheet, spread the almonds. Bake them for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they smell toasty. Cool briefly.
With scissors, snip the stems off the figs, and snip each fig into 3 or 4 pieces.
In a food processor, combine the figs, raisins, cinnamon, salt, cloves, nutmeg, vanilla and orange zest. Pulse until they are finely chopped. Add the almonds, marmalade and rum. Pulse until the mixture holds together but is not ground to a paste—it should have a little texture.
Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the cookies. The filling will keep for at least one week.
To Assemble the Dough and Filling
Have on hand 2 parchment lined baking sheets. Divide the dough in half.
Place a piece of parchment on the work surface and sprinkle it generously with flour. Working with half the dough at a time, roll it into a 12- by 14-inch rectangle. Slide it onto the baking sheet and refrigerate it for 20 to 30 minutes, or until cold. Repeat with the second half of the dough.
While the dough is chilling, shape the filling. Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap. Divide the filling into 8 pieces (about 1/3 cup each) and roll each one into a 14-inch log. (This is easiest to accomplish by rolling about half of each portion at a time and piece the small logs together to form a long log.) The logs should be about 1/2-inch thick. Place on the baking sheet.
Remove one sheet of chilled pastry from the refrigerator. With the dough still on the baking sheet, position it so that the 12-inch edge of the rectangle is parallel to the countertop. With a pastry wheel or pizza cutter, cut the dough into 4 long strips that are 3 inches wide.
Center 1 log of filling on each dough strip. Fold one side of dough over it and roll it so the seam is on the bottom. Return the baking sheet to the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes before cutting and shaping.
To Shape and Bake the Italian Fig Cookies:
Beat 1 egg with 1 tablespoon of water to make an egg wash. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. If you have turned off the oven, preheat it now to 350ºF.
For small cookies, cut the logs into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with colored sprinkles and bake, or glaze (see recipe below) with icing and top with sprinkles after baking.
For X cookies, cut into 2 1/2- to 3-inch pieces. With a paring knife, make a slit on both ends of each piece and open them out slightly to form an X. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with colored sprinkles and bake, or glaze with icing and top with sprinkles after baking.
For curved cookies, cut into 2 1/2- to 3-inch pieces. With a paring knife, make 3 or 4 1/4-inch cuts on 1 side of each cookie, being careful not to cut all the way through. Curve them into a crescent shape. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with colored sprinkles and bake, or glaze with icing and top with sprinkles after baking.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until light golden brown.
Make the Icing for the Italian Fig Cookies
Whisk together 2 egg whites and 2 1/2 cups of confectioner’s sugar. Pour into a shallow dish. Carefully dip the tops of the cookies in the icing and set them on a rack. Sprinkle with colored sprinkles and leave until set.
Store between sheets of wax paper in a tin with a tight-fitting lid for up to 1 week.