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 recipe. 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.

› Italian Fig Cookies

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