Recipe: Fig pockets are filled with quick fresh preserves
Like fig season, these cookies are special. They take a little time and effort, but the results are delicious with a delicate crispness and just the right amount of fig.
Filled with quick fresh fig preserves, they’re like mini turnovers. Instead of a flaky crust, the golden pastry forms something closer to a scone. Removed from the oven at 8 minutes, the dough stays soft like a thick sugar cookie with a fig center. Two minutes more, the top is golden and the bottom crisps while the filling retains its softness. (Any longer and the cookie gets too crunchy.)
The pastry dough needs to be kept as cold as possible; otherwise, it sticks to everything while being worked and pulls apart. So, make these little pastry pockets in batches of 10 or 12.
Quick fresh fig preserves double as filling.
Makes about 30 cookies
6 tablespoons shortening
¾ cup sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
¾ teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon soda
1-1/2 cups figs, finely chopped (about ½ pound)
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup water
1/3 cup walnuts, finely chopped (optional)
1/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons sugar
Prepare pastry dough. With a pastry blender in a large bowl, cut ¾ cup sugar into shortening until fluffy. Stir in eggs, then vanilla. Sift together flour, salt and soda. Blend dry ingredients into sugar-shortening mixture. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill dough in refrigerator for 1 hour.
Prepare filling. In a heavy saucepan, combine chopped figs, 2/3 cup sugar, water and walnuts, if desired. Over medium heat, bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Stirring often to prevent sticking, cook fig mixture until it thickens, about 10 to 15 minutes depending on the ripeness of the figs. Remove from heat and let cool thoroughly.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut 3-inch circles.
Between two sheets of parchment paper or on the lightly floured board, roll dough until thin, about 1/16th inch thick. Using a 3-inch cookie cutter or the rim of a large glass, cut circles of pastry. Place 1 teaspoon of fig filling on each pastry circle. Fold pastry over filling. Use a fork to crimp the pastry and seal.
Carefully place little turnovers onto an ungreased baking sheet, leaving plenty of room between each cookie. Brush tops with milk and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake at 400 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes, or until very light golden brown. (Less for a softer cookie, longer for a crisper cookie.) Remove cookies from baking sheet immediately and cool on a rack.
Assemble mini turnovers.
These cookies can be served warm or room temperature. Store in a sealed container.
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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Jan. 29
Bundle up and get work done!
* Prune, prune, prune. Now is the time to cut back most deciduous trees and shrubs. The exceptions are spring-flowering shrubs such as lilacs.
* Now is the time to prune fruit trees, except apricot and cherry trees. Clean up leaves and debris around the trees to prevent the spread of disease.
* Prune roses, even if they’re still trying to bloom or sprouting new growth. Strip off any remaining leaves, so the bush will be able to put out new growth in early spring.
* Prune Christmas camellias (Camellia sasanqua), the early-flowering varieties, after their bloom. They don’t need much, but selective pruning can promote bushiness, upright growth and more bloom next winter. Feed with an acid-type fertilizer. But don’t feed your Japonica camellias until after they finish blooming next month. Feeding while camellias are in bloom may cause them to drop unopened buds.
* Clean up leaves and debris around your newly pruned roses and shrubs. Put down fresh mulch or bark to keep roots cozy.
* Apply horticultural oil to fruit trees to control scale, mites and aphids. Oils need 24 hours of dry weather after application to be effective.
* This is also the time to spray a copper-based oil to peach and nectarine trees to fight leaf curl. Avoid spraying on windy days.
* Divide daylilies, Shasta daisies and other perennials.
* Cut back and divide chrysanthemums.
* Plant bare-root roses, trees and shrubs.
* Transplant pansies, violas, calendulas, English daisies, snapdragons and fairy primroses.
* In the vegetable garden, plant fava beans, head lettuce, mustard, onion sets, radicchio and radishes.
* Plant bare-root asparagus and root divisions of rhubarb.
* In the bulb department, plant callas, anemones, ranunculus and gladiolus for bloom from late spring into summer.
* Plant blooming azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons. If you’re shopping for these beautiful landscape plants, you can now find them in full flower at local nurseries.
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