We are introduced, at an early age, to the sweet wondernous of a cookie. From teething cookies to soothe the swollen aching gums of incoming incisors, onto animal crackers purchased in rectangular-shaped boxes bearing a string handle for easy toting by little fingers. Deciding which part of the animal should be eaten first-the trunk of the elephant or the tail of a lion-depended on how hungry one was. Savor each and every one or simply gobble them down as fast as possible.

My next cookie memory would be the ever famous, possibly all-time favorite, the chocolate chip cookie. There is nothing better than to bite into a round circle of baked dough sprinkled with gooey melt-in-your-mouth chocolate. A chocolate chip cookie can dry tears, heal broken hearts, mend scraped knees and elbows and solve sibling arguments. Most of the problems in the world could likely be solved by a properly baked, right out of the oven, chocolate chip cookie. The power of a cookie is underestimated.

I will attempt in the next 365 days to prepare and comment on a year’s worth of different cookies-one for each day. My goal is to share with others my extreme love of cookies-baking them and especially eating them! Feel free to send me your favorite recipe, your earliest cookie memories, or how cookies may have influenced your life. Cookies Rule!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Cookie Recipe #157 - Fig Bars

Fig Newton look-alikes and taste-alikes, maybe even better. There are several steps involved along with time, but the fig middle can be made ahead.

Ingredients: 1 cup (2 sticks)unsalted butter, room temperature, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1 large egg plus 2 large egg yolks, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, finely grated zest of 1 lemon, 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for parchment, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon milk, 3 cups roughly chopped dried Calimyrna figs (about 1 pound), 1/4 cup honey, 1 cup red wine, 1 cup water, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon finely ground pepper.

Instructions: In large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg, 1 egg yolk, vanilla and zest; mix well. Add flour and salt; mix just until dough comes together. Divide dough in half; wrap each half in plastic wrap. Chill until firm, about 1 hour.

In the meantime, make fig filling: Combine figs, honey, red wine, water, cinnamon, and pepper in a non-stick frying pan, and cook over low heat, stirring often, until reduced to a thick paste, 10-15 minutes. After mixture cools slightly, pulse until smooth in food processor. Spread mixture on a baking sheet to cool completely. (The filling can be made ahead and refrigerated up to one week. Bring to room temperature before using).

On a floured surface, roll out one half of dough to slightly larger than a 9x14 inch rectangle. Remove excess flour with a dry pastry brush, and trim to even edges. Pick up dough by wrapping it around a rolling pan; unroll it unto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread cooled filling evenly over pastry. Roll remaining dough; cover filling. Trim excess pastry to make a rectangle. Chill for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, combine remaining egg yolk and milk. Use a paring knife to score dough lightly into 1 1/4x3-inch bars. Lightly brush with egg wash. Bake until golden brown, 25-30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Cut into bars and enjoy.

Bars can be stored betweeb layers of parchment in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.

Makes 2 dozen bars.

"Martha Stewart's Cookies", Publications International, Ltd., Lincolnwood, IL, 1994.

Cookies Rule!!!

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