Holiday Spice Pockets with Brandied Figs and Chocolate

December 18, 2009
1 Ratings
  • Serves 3 dozen
Author Notes

These snowy-looking, Old World-style cookies are perfect for the holidays. The powdered sugar may draw the children in the room (or the child inside every adult); however, these pockets, spiked with brandy and packed with figs, walnuts, chocolate, and honey, are strictly for the grown-ups. Inspired by rustic Greek pastries and ingredients, these cookies are the perfect combination of spicy and sweet, simple and sophisticated. The basic pastry shell, lightly perfumed with cinnamon and cloves, gives way to a complex, flavor-packed interior. The pockets are easy to make with a bit of forethought, and due to their sturdy crust, they travel well . . . that is, if they don't all disappear straight off the cooling rack first! —Allison Cay Parker

What You'll Need
  • For the Filling
  • 3/4 cup chopped dried figs, coarse stems removed
  • 2 tablespoons brandy (try Greek Metaxa)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 ounce semi- or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons melted honey
  • For the Pastry
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • confectioner's sugar for dusting baked cookies
  1. In a small bowl, combine the chopped figs and the brandy for the filling. Set aside to soak for a few hours.
  2. Make the pastry dough: Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cloves. Set aside. In a large bowl, using handheld beaters (or a stand mixer) set on medium-high speed, beat the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy, at least three minutes. Beat in orange zest. Next, in a small bowl, lightly beat the egg, then add the milk and vanilla. Blend well. Gradually add egg mixture to the butter mixture, alternating with (and ending with) the flour. Do as much as possible with the beaters or mixer; at the end, you may need to use a wooden spoon or knead briefly with your hands. The dough will be fairly moist and sticky. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic, and place in the freezer for an hour.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375, with a rack positioned in the center of the oven.
  4. Finish the filling: Drain off any excess brandy from the figs. To the figs add the walnuts, chocolate, orange zest, and honey. Combine well.
  5. Fill and bake cookies: Work with half the dough at a time; keep the half you are not using in the refrigerator. Place the dough on a well-floured surface, and cover the top of the dough with flour as well. Roll out the dough to a thickness of approximately 1/8-inch, lifting and flipping it over occasionally to prevent sticking. Using a 3-inch cookie cutter or inverted glass, cut out pastry circles and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Reroll and cut scraps until dough is used up. In the center of each round, place about a half-teaspoon of the filling. The cookies should be well filled, but make sure to leave room around the edges of each circle. Dipping your fingers in water, lightly moisten the edges of each circle and fold one half over the filling to form a semicircular pocket. Use a fork to crimp closed the edges. Bake for 10-15 minutes, removing from oven when the edges are just turning golden. Transfer cookies to cooling racks and sift a generous amount of confectioner's sugar over them. Repeat the process with the reserved dough from the refrigerator.
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  • TheWimpyVegetarian
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  • mollywatson

4 Reviews

TheWimpyVegetarian February 3, 2010
I love your recipes. I can't open your wonderful sounding quiche (wildcard pick today) unless I'm NOT signed in, but of course then I can't leave a comment. I'm a big quiche person, so will be trying it very soon, but then in looking at your other recipes, I found this one. It looks just wonderful. As I commented on your chocolate / fig cake last week, I love the two flavors together and with orange and brandy?? Fabulous! I (and my husband) can't wait to make them.
Allison C. February 4, 2010
Thanks, ChezSuzanne! I had the same trouble viewing the quiche recipe yesterday, but it seems to be fixed now. Still, it was a stroke of odd luck for me if it brought you to my other recipes—I'm so glad you like what you see here. Thanks for commenting, and I hope you (and your husband) enjoy whatever recipes you try. That's what it's all about... sharing food! Cheers. ~ Allison
Allison C. December 24, 2009
To Amanda and Merrill, Thank you so much for making this recipe an "Editors' Pick"--your endorsement makes for a lovely holiday gift, as does the whole Food52 site, which gives to the food community 52 weeks a year! I'm continually amazed by the creativity of the other cooks and bakers who enter the contests, and of course your own creations. Thanks again to you both.

And to Molly Watson, who was the first to comment on the recipe, you know you have my gratitude, too! Happy holiday cookies to you.
mollywatson December 19, 2009
These sound delicious! Anything that starts with soaking figs in brandy for a few hours *has* to be good. These seem like a sophisticated version of the date-drop cookies my mom always made when I was a kid - I'll add them to my baking roster a.s.a.p.