Ever wondered how to make fig squares gluten-free? This Alice Medrich recipe is tested thoroughly and yields a chewy, fragrant cookie with lemon zest and aniseed. crunchy with demerara sugar on top. They’re simple and festive.
Become a Cookie Pro
For cookies, whisk the dry ingredients together. This ensures even distribution of the leavener into the flour and salt. Set it aside so that when it’s time, you’ll incorporate it in one swoop until it just comes together so the cookies are tender and not tough.
Butter and sugar get mixed until smooth. Since we are not looking for a big lift on the cookies, there’s no need to aim for “light and fluffy.” Then, you’ll mix in the egg until combined. Finally, you’ll add the flour.
Work with only half of the dough at a time, chilling the other half. You will shape each piece into a flat rectangle about 1/2-inch thick, to be sealed in plastic wrap and then refrigerated for 2 hours.
Parchment is Your Pal
Pro tip: you’ll roll the dough between two sheets of parchment or wax paper, dusting just the rolling pin with flour. Over half of the dough, you’ll sprinkle on chopped figs. Then, fold the other half of the dough over the fig topped portion. Press down on the parchment to nudge the dough into the figs. The parchment also helps you maneuver around the dough without touching it too much. Peel the parchment away.
Figs for the Filling
Unlike chewy fig squares that use fig jam in the middles, this Alice Medrich recipe employs dried figs which have been chopped up and get tossed with lemon zest. You could use Sun-Maid or Orchard Choice Mission Figs for that familiar fig fruit flavor, or try our Golden Figs for a tangy taste that’s delicately sweet and nutty.
A dusting of cinnamon sugar and aniseed as a garnish before baking them infuses more flavor into the cookies. Cut into four equal strips, you’ll cut each into cookie squares and bake.
California Fig Squares
- Hand-held electric mixer or stand mixer with paddle attachment
- 2 cookie sheets lines with parchment paper
- 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 8 tbsp unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp aniseed crushed with a rolling pin
- 1 egg large
- 1 lemon medium
- 1 1/2 cups Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Figs coarsely chopped
- 1 tbsp coarse sugar or regular sugar for topping
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together thoroughly. Set aside.
- Put the butter, sugar, and vanilla in the mixer bowl. Reserve ½ teaspoon of the crushed aniseed (to top the cookies) and add the remainder to the bowl. Mix just until the ingredients are blended and smooth (not light and fluffy). Mix in the egg. Add flour mixture and mix just until thoroughly blended.
- Divide the dough in half. Shape each piece into a flat rectangle about ½ inch thick and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to two days.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
- Remove the dough from refrigerator and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, grate the zest of the lemon over the chopped figs and toss to blend. Set aside.
- Mix the topping sugar and cinnamon thoroughly. Set aside.
- On a sheet of parchment or waxed paper, roll one piece of dough to a thin rectangular sheet 8 ½ inches by 16 ½ inches. Let the dough stick to the parchment, but dust the rolling pin lightly with flour as necessary to prevent it from sticking. With one short side facing you, cover the bottom half of the dough evenly with half of the figs. Fold the top half over the filling, using the parchment for a handle. Press on the parchment to adhere the dough to the fruit. Peel the parchment gently away from the dough (if it sticks, put it in the fridge for 10 minutes while you roll and fill the second piece of dough). Dust the top of the dough with a little flour and flip it over onto a cutting board. Peel off the parchment. Trim the edges of the dough with a sharp knife. Sprinkle half of the cinnamon sugar and half of the reserved aniseed over the dough. Press the sugar and seeds gently to adhere them. Cut 4 equal strips and cut each strip into 4 pieces to make 16 square cookies. Place cookies 1-inch apart on lined pans. Bake 12-15 minutes, until the edges and bottoms are lightly browned. Rotate the sheets from top to bottom and front to back about halfway through the baking. Set baking sheets on racks; cool cookies completely before stacking or storing. Cookies keep for at least a week in an airtight container.