Adapted from Cookie Love: More than 60 Recipes and Techniques for Turning the Ordinary in the Extraordinary, by Mindy Segal (Ten Speed Press). Photo by Dan Goldberg
Prep Time: 45 minutes Chilling Time: 3 hours 50 minutes Cook Time: 1 hour 32 minutes
As you might have guessed, this is my grown-up take on Fig Newtons. I plump up figs with port wine, cook them down with honey, and puree it all into a paste. The cookies resemble classic rugelach, but with a catch: instead of rolling the cookies from wedges, I cut the dough into strips and then fold them like a business letter so they look square. For a variation, turn up the volume and make the cream cheese dough with 2 ounces of grated 70 percent cacao chocolate ground into the flour in a food processor before mixing the dough.
Make the filling the day you plan to shape the cookies. The filling firms up significantly when refrigerated. If you can’t get to it in the same day, leave the filling at room temperature. If the filling seems stiff, paddle it for a minute or two in a stand mixer, adding a tablespoon of water if needed to soften the paste. --Mindy Segal
Classic Cream Cheese Dough:
1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
1½ pounds dried Black Mission figs
3 cups port or red wine
1 cup honey
1 vanilla bean, seeds and pod
1 recipe Classic Cream Cheese Dough, divided in half and chilled
1 extra-large egg white, lightly beaten
½ cup granulated sugar
- To prepare the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter on medium speed for 5 to 10 seconds. Add the cream cheese and mix on medium speed to combine, 10 to 15 seconds. Add the sugar and beat on medium speed until aerated, approximately 3 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the batter together.
- On medium speed, add the vanilla, mixing briefly until incorporated. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the batter together.
- In a bowl, whisk together the flour and salts. Add the flour mixture all at once and mix on low speed until the dough just comes together but still looks shaggy, approximately 30 seconds. Do not overmix. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer. With a plastic bench scraper, bring the dough completely together by hand.
- Stretch two sheets of plastic wrap on a work surface. Divide the dough in half (each half will weigh around 14½ ounces) and place a half on each piece of plastic. Pat the dough into rectangles, wrap tightly, and refrigerate until chilled throughout, at least 2 hours or up to 1 week (see Kitchen Tips).
- To make the filling: Remove the stems from the figs and cut them in half. Combine all of the filling ingredients in a bowl and let the figs rehydrate at room temperature for at least 1 hour or preferably overnight.
- In a 6-quart heavy saucepan, cook the figs and their hydrating liquid over medium heat, stirring every couple of minutes, until the liquid has become syrupy but is not completely reduced, 15 to 18 minutes depending on how long the figs have macerated beforehand. When you push the figs with a wooden spoon, they should be soft enough to break apart easily. Remove from the heat, cover with a lid, and let steam for 20 minutes.
- Remove the vanilla pod. Puree the figs in a food processor with any liquid in the pot until a paste forms. Let the paste sit at room temperature until cooled.
- To make the cookies: Put a sheet of parchment paper the same dimensions as a half sheet (13- by 18-inch) pan on the work surface and dust lightly with flour. Unwrap one dough half and place on top.
- Using a rolling pin and a pastry roller, roll the dough half into a rectangle, leaving a 1-inch border from the edge of the parchment paper. The dough should be just shy of ¼ inch thick. If the edges become uneven, push a bench scraper against the sides to straighten them out. To keep the dough from sticking to the parchment paper, periodically dust the top lightly with flour, cover with another piece of parchment paper, and, sandwiching the dough between both sheets of parchment paper, flip the dough and paper over. Peel off the top layer of parchment paper and continue to roll. Repeat with the second dough half. Stack both sheets of dough on top of each other and refrigerate until chilled, approximately 30 minutes.
- Heat the oven to 350°F. Line a few half sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly coat with nonstick cooking spray.
- Invert the sheets of dough onto the work surface and peel off the top sheet of parchment paper. For each sheet of dough, spread a thin, even layer of fig paste across the surface using an offset spatula. If the dough becomes warm, it may tear when adding the fig paste. If it tears, chill the dough before proceeding. (You will use approximately 1½ cups of paste per sheet.) Trim the edges. Using a dough cutter or a pizza cutter, divide the sheet in half lengthwise into two long strips. Working with one strip at a time and moving crosswise, cut the strips into ribbons approximately 1¼ inches wide. (See Notes from the Test Kitchen.)
- Using an offset spatula, separate a ribbon away from the rest of the dough. Starting from the base, tightly fold (do not roll) the dough up so it is more square than round. Place seam-side down on the prepared sheet pan and repeat with the remaining ribbons, spacing them on the pans 1 inch apart. Brush the tops with the egg white and sprinkle with the sugar.
- Bake one pan at a time for 15 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake for another 6 to 8 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. Let the cookies cool on the sheet pan for 1 to 2 minutes (do not wait too long or the fig paste will stick to the parchment paper). Using an offset spatula, transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining pans.
- Rugelach can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Rolled, unbaked rugelach can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.
The Classic Cream Cheese Dough recipe will make two (13- by 18-inch) sheets of dough.
Notes from the Test Kitchen
This recipe makes 48 cookies; you can bake them in batches, 12 cookies per sheet, one sheet at a time.