I first made these a few years ago when a holiday cookie experiment failed spectacularly, leaving me with about a cup of this spiced fruit filling. I had a log of nut crescent dough in the freezer, so I put the two together to make these cookies. Family and friends unanimously hailed these as a keeper. Use walnuts or pistachios instead of pecans, if you like. You can also substitute dried apricots for either the cherries or the figs. Cheers. ;o)
For the Cookie Dough **
8 ounces (228 grams) pecan pieces
55 grams / 60 ml / ¼ cup superfine sugar, divided
2 cups (8.8 ounces / 250 grams) all-purpose flour
2 sticks (8 ounces / 226 grams ) unsalted butter, cut into ½” cubes and chilled
Good pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoon / 10 ml vanilla
2 teaspoon / 10 ml water
For the Filling **
80 grams / 2 ¾ ounces / ½ cup dried sour cherries
42 grams / 1 ½ ounces / ¼ cup coarsely chopped black mission figs
24 grams / 2 tablespoons / 30 ml granulated sugar
2 tablespoons / 30 ml brandy
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground mace
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting the cookies, if you wish (I typically don’t.)
Prepare the dried fruit filling: Buzz to a paste the dried fruit and brown sugar in the food processor. In a small heavy saucepan heat the fruit with 1/3 cup of water, along with the brandy, mace, allspice and cloves. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar is dissolved and the fruit thickens. Let it sit until ready to bake the cookies.
Make the cookie dough: Pulse the pecans in the food processor with 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar, 6 or 7 times, to chop. Remove the nuts.
Put the butter, remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and half the flour in the food processor. Buzz for about ten seconds. Add the rest of the flour; sprinkle on the salt and nutmeg, and then drizzle on the water and vanilla. Buzz for about 10 seconds. Add the nuts and process for another 5 - 10 seconds; pulse a few times if necessary fully to combine the ingredients. (You want the nuts still to be visible.)
Roll the dough into four 8-inch logs. Tightly wrap in plastic wrap (cling film) and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, up to 3 days. The cookies will taste better if the dough is chilled for at least 24 hours.
When ready to bake, heat oven to 325 degrees. Use a bench scraper or sharp knife to cut each log into 8 equal-sized chunks.
Roll into balls and place on parchment-lined cookie sheets. Make a deep impression in the middle of each, using your thumb; fill with the spiced fruit spread. Bake for 24 minutes, turning the cookie sheets halfway through. Let cool on the cookie sheets, on a rack, for about 10 minutes before removing.
You may have a tablespoon or two of the filling left over, depending on how large your thumbprints are. Use it like jam on buttered toast, or swirl a touch of mustard in it and put it on a grilled cheese sandwich.
When I'm not working (negotiating transactions for internet companies), or outside enjoying the gorgeous surroundings here in the San Francisco Bay Area, I'm likely to be cooking, shopping for food, planning my next culinary experiment, or researching, voraciously, whatever interests me. In my kitchen, no matter what I am doing -- and I actually don't mind cleaning up -- I am deeply grateful for having the means to create, share with others and eat great food. Life is very good. ;o)