How to Make Italian Fig Cookies 

When I learned how to make Italian fig cookies, it was because of my mom; she loved figs, especially fig bars. Because of the abundance of figs grown in Italy so many recipes are made with them. I learned how to make Italian fig cookies and all kinds of desserts with figs. Even simple stewed figs are very popular at holiday time, as well as any time of the year.


I never knew of figs being grown here in the United States until more recent years. Depending on the location here, I have heard different stories about the ease or difficulty of growing them. In Florida most have told me that before they ripen, the birds would eat the figs. They have tried covering the tree with netting resulting in some success.


I would love learn how to make these Italian fig cookies and my other fig recipes with fresh figs, but they are never available fresh in the markets. I now have a beautiful small fig tree growing in Tennessee; the climate should be temperate enough so I will see how it does. I can’t wait to pick my own fresh figs!


The seeds of the figs fill almost the entire fruit but are very tender like the flesh so they can also be eaten. There are basically two kinds of figs; a yellow green one and a purple black one. My fig tree is the yellow green type. The qualities of both are alike; white flesh with pink center, dry, slightly sticky and sweet but nutty in taste. Softness is a sign of maturity in figs; soft but not mushy. Fresh figs should be eaten within one day of picking because they perish quickly. They can be eaten with the skins on or peeled.


HOW TO PEEL FIGS: For many of your Italian desserts you will need to peel the figs. With sharp knife cut off the stem of the fig. Nick the skin at the stem end, grasp a corner of the skin between your thumb and the knife and pull a strip of the skin away from the flesh. Peel the rest of the fruit in the same way.

HOW TO MAKE ITALIAN FIG COOKIES

Dough:

  • ¾ Cup soft butter
  • ½ Cup sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Egg yolk
  • 2 ¼ Cups flour
  • 1/8 Teaspoon salt
  • 1 Teaspoon grated lemon peel


Filling:

  • ½ Cup chopped walnuts
  • ½ Cup chopped almonds
  • 2 Cups chopped figs
  • ¾ Cup red wine
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1 Teaspoon orange peel
  • Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.

Instructions for fig cookies filling:

In a heavy skillet, toast the walnuts and almonds over medium heat, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes. Stir in figs, wine, sugar, honey and orange peel. Cook until it is a dry paste. Spoon into a bowl; cover and chill.

Instructions for dough:

Beat butter, whole egg plus yolk, vanilla and sugar until creamy. Add the flour, salt and lemon peel. Mix until blended and chill for 1 hour.

Roll half of dough to 13x7 inches. Spoon half of filling down the center of the dough, leaving 1 inch at the top and 1 inch at the bottom. Fold side over and pinch to seal edges. Place on a foil lined cookie sheet. Repeat process with the remaining half of dough and filling. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Cut diagonally into 1 inch slices. Cool and sift lightly with powdered sugar.


FIG BAR RECIPE

If you want to make Italian fig cookies, try this recipe; it taste like the Fig Newtons.

  • 5 Tablespoons softened butter
  • 2 Tablespoons sour cream
  • 2/3 Cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Cups flour
  • 2 Teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ Teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ Teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ Teaspoon salt

Fig Filling:

  • 2 Cups dried figs
  • 1 ¾ Cups water
  • 1/3 Cup sugar
  • 2 Teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • ¼ Teaspoon salt

Beat butter and sour cream in mixing bowl until light; gradually add brown sugar beating until light.

Add eggs one at a time beating after each; beat in vanilla.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

Gradually add and blend with creamed mixture.

Divide dough into 3 equal parts, wrap each part in lightly floured plastic wrap, refrigerate 2 hours.

Filling:

Combine figs and water in heavy saucepan; cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until figs are soft.

Add sugar, lemon peel and salt; simmer covered another 15 minutes.

Press mixture through coarse disk of food mill; cool.


Assemble Italian Fig Cookies:

Roll one piece of dough on lightly floured surface to 5 X 11 rectangle.

Spread with 1/3 of filling along one side of dough covering area of 2 inches wide 10 inches long; leave ½ inch margin.

Pile the filling slightly along the length, then moisten the exposed margins with water.

Gently lift the uncovered dough with spatula and fold over the filling.

Press it down, trim edges and shape the roll into a neat half cylinder (2 ½ X 11)

Repeat process with remaining dough and filling.

Bake in preheated oven at 350F degrees for 25 minutes or until lightly browned.

Cool bars on rack then with sharp serrated knife trim ends off and cut into slices; cool completely.


HOT FRIED FIG RECIPE (or fried fritter recipe)

These might be considered like a fried fritter but to me they are a delicious Italian fig cookie. Whatever you want to call them, they make a great special recipe for Christmas Eve.

  • 8 Firm peeled figs
  • ½ Cup dark rum
  • 1/3 Cup flour
  • ½ Cup water
  • Oil for frying

Soak figs in rum for 1 hour turning them often.

In shallow bowl slowly stir water into flour; beat batter until smooth and creamy.

Heat oil in heavy skillet or pan about ½ inch deep.

When oil is very hot but not smoking dip figs one at a time into batter then into the hot oil.

Fry figs on all sides until golden brown; drain on paper towels.

Serve while hot; if desired dust with powdered sugar.


DRIED FIG FILLED COOKIES

This Italian fig cookie can be made all year long using dried figs.

  • 1 Cup softened butter
  • 1 Cup brown sugar
  • 2 Beaten eggs
  • About 2 ¾ Cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • ½ Teaspoon baking soda
  • Dried fig filling (Recipe below)

Combine flour, salt and soda; blend together and set aside.

In a large bowl cream butter and sugar; beat in eggs until light.

Add flour mixture to creamed mixture; blend well.

Shape dough in rolls about 1 ½ to 2 inches round and 6 to 8 inches long.

Wrap in plastic wrap, wax paper or foil; refrigerate at least 3 hours


MAKE FILLING

  • 1 ½ Cups finely chopped dried figs
  • ¾ Cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1/8 Teaspoon cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in medium saucepan; bring to boil stirring constantly.

Reduce heat to medium and cook until it begins to thicken (1 to 2 minutes).

Set off heat and cool completely before using; makes about 2 ½ cups.

TO ASSEMBLE COOKIES PREHEAT OVEN TO 350F degrees.

Unwrap each roll of dough; cut in half lengthwise.

On lightly floured surface roll each half into 8X3 inch rectangle about ¼ inch thick.

Spoon half of filling onto 1 rectangle to with ½ of the edges.

With spatula lift another rectangle and place of top of filling

With fingers press around edges to seal making ½ inch border.

Trim edges with sharp knife to make even; cut crosswise to make bars.

Place bars on ½ inch apart ungreased baking sheets.

Bake about 12 minutes until light brown; place on wire rack and cool completely.


HEALTHY FIG FILLING RECIPE

You can turn many of your cookie recipes into great Italian fig cookies with this delicious filling. Simply substitute this filling in other filled cookies or filled bars.

  • 2 Cups ground unsulphured figs
  • ½ Cup honey
  • 2 Tablespoons unsweetened prune juice
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon orange juice

Combine all ingredients in medium saucepan.

Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat.

Cook stirring constantly for 15 minutes; set off to cool.

Makes about 2 ½ cups; use for cookies, cakes and in yeast rolls.


ALMOND FIG THUMBPRINT COOKIES

Make this tasty Italian fig cookie made with almond and cinnamon.

  • 1 Cup flour
  • ¾ Cup finely ground almonds
  • ½ Cup sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • ¼ Teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ Cup solid shortening
  • 1 Beaten egg
  • Fig jam or filling
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 300F degrees.

Place the flour in a heavy skillet over low heat.

Cook and stir occasionally for 7 minutes.

NOTE: Do not let flour brown; this will give flour a nutty flavor.

Cool flour and transfer to a mixing bowl; blend in almonds, sugar, salt and cinnamon.

Work in shortening and egg with hands until dough forms.

Shape dough into 1 inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheets.

Press center of each cookie with your index finger.

Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown; cool.

Fill indentation with fig jam; dust with powdered sugar.


FROSTED FIG STICKS RECIPE

Try this Italian fig cookies with a vanilla glaze. 

  • 1 ¾ Cups flour
  • ½ Teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ Teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ Teaspoon salt
  • ½ Cup softened butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • Fig filling
  • Vanilla glaze

Preheat oven to 400F degrees.

Combine and sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.

Cream butter, sugar, honey and lemon juice; thoroughly mix in dry ingredients.

Divide dough in half; roll out on lightly floured WAX PAPER to 15X8 inch rectangle.

Cut rectangle into four 15X2 inch strips; place 1 tablespoon filling down the center of OUTSIDE STRIP.

Fold dough over the filling using wax paper to lift; seal edge.

Cut into 3 inch strips; roll each slightly to round out edges.

Place seam side down on ungreased cookie sheet; repeat with remaining strips.

Bake for 9 to 12 minutes until lightly browned; place on wire rack to cool.

Spoon glaze over warm cookies; cool completely.


Filling

  • 1 Cup (or 6 ounce can) ground figs
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon water

COMBINE and blend all ingredients


Vanilla Glaze

  • 1 ½ Cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons hot water

COMBINE and blend adding enough hot water for glaze consistency.

› Italian Fig Cookies

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