Written by Jackie of Auburn Meadow Farm
This is not the sort of cookie recipe that would ordinarily piqué my interest. I’m not in the habit of baking with dried fruits, particularly ones like dates and figs. I live in Pennsylvania where fresh figs are far, far away and usually not-so fresh by the time they reach my kitchen.
But, as Diana noted earlier in her tremendously helpful post on natural sweeteners, dried fruit offers a wholesome and extremely satisfying means of avoiding artificial sweeteners so I decided it was time to remedy this omission in my baking repertoire.
Another thing I like about this recipe is that it’s actually pretty easy. The logs can be made ahead and simply sliced then baked when you need them. I’m all about a recipe that has me armed and ready for unexpected holiday visiting, entertaining, and gifting – a frozen, unbaked log makes a thoughtful gift.
Following this recipe takes a bit of faith – the dough has no sweetener at all. Your brain will resist, nagging you to add just a little sugar or something. But hold firm. Not only is it not a mistake, it’s rich and delicious. And the swirl design adds a little extra variety and interest to your holiday cookie assortment.
Naturally sweetened dried fruit swirl cookies. They're simple to make, rich, and delicious.
- 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup packed soft dried Mission figs (8 oz) hard tips discarded
- 1/2 cup mild honey
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh orange zest
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.
- In a food processor, pulse butter, cream cheese, yolk and vanilla until smooth. Add flour mixture and pulse until dough forms a ball.
- Halve dough and shape each half into a roughly 6 x 2 inch rectangle. Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap until firm, about 1 1/2 hours.
- Puree figs, honey, juice, zest and cinnamon in clean food processor until almost smooth.
- Roll out one piece of dough between two sheets of waxed paper into a 10 x 8-inch rectangle (about 1/3-inch thick), long side facing you. Remove the top sheet of waxed paper and gently spread one half the filling mixture evenly over the surface of the dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border bare along one long side. Use the waxed paper as an aid, roll the dough jelly roll style enclosing the fruit mixture and ending at the bare border, seam side down.
- Repeat with the second dough rectangle.
- Chill logs, wrapped in waxed paper until firm, about 4 hours.
- Place oven rack in the middle of oven and preheat to 375F.
- Cut logs crosswise into 1/3-inch slices and arrange about 1-inch apart on a parchment lined or lightly buttered baking sheets. Bake until pastry is pale golden, about 12 - 15 minutes. Transfer to racks to cool.
Of course you don’t know me at all if you think I simply followed this recipe. I’ve since made swirls using all sorts of fruit combos – just follow the ratio of dried fruit to liquid and substitute the flavorings of your choice. Dried cranberries, cherries, raisins, the combinations are limitless.
A recent favorite:
- 1 cup dried apricot
- 1/2 cup mild honey
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 2 teaspoons grated orange peel
This dough recipe was also the perfect partner for the rich homemade mincemeat I made last year.
Trust me on this: these cookies are in no way compromised by their no artificial sugar status. Your friends with sugar limitations will thank you, and everyone else will never be the wiser.
What filling combinations can you think of?