Monday, April 15, 2013

Egyptian Fig Roll Cookies

When I was in elementary school, we did a lot of ancient Egyptian studies. My teacher was from Africa, and even though she was of South African Dutch heritage (with a gorgeous accent to match), she had a passion for the world of the pyramids, Sphinx and papyrus. I share that fascination, as well as loving any ancient history, and when I discover a new bit of trivia about an old civilization lost to time I soak it up.

Full to BurstingThat's why when I discovered that the cookie I grew up sharing with my Grandpa, my favourite Fig Newton, was actually rooted in ancient Egypt, I had to revisit it. I finally found a version of the dried fig filling (in a kids Egypt book, nonetheless) that used honey, nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom for a heady, exotic feel and definitely wanted to make it the star. For the "wrapping", the ancients preferred a pastry-like flatbread, but I personally like the tender cookie version. I found a perfect recipe on Savory Simple to play with, which wound up becoming a spelt-cinnamon concoction laced with orange and vanilla and just slightly chewy from using egg whites in place of the yolks.

With all the luscious figs tucked inside, these are great for the Eating the Alphabet Healthy Recipe Challenge on Meal Planning Magic! This month we're on E and F - check out what yummies are being cooked up with fruits, vegetables, grains or legumes beginning with these letters!



Egyptian Fig Roll Cookies
Makes 24 cookies

Filling:
8 oz dried figs (I used a combination of Black Mission and Calimyrna)
1 tbsp honey (I like Manuka)
1/4 cup water
pinch nutmeg
pinch cardamom
pinch cinnamon

Cookie:
2 oz flour
3 oz spelt flour
½ tsp cinnamon
pinch baking soda
pinch salt
1 oz salted butter, room temperature
2 oz non-hydrogenated shortening
1 oz brown sugar
2 egg whites
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp orange extract

Filling:
  1. Rolled Out Newton DoughMix the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring up to a gentle simmer.
  2. Cook for 30 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed and figs begin to turn into a "paste".
  3. Transfer to a food processor and purée a thick consistency.
  4. Cool completely, then transfer to a plastic zip-top bag and set aside. (Note: you can make this  up to 3 days in advance)
Dough:
  1. Whisk together the flours, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  2. Cream the butter, shortening, sugar, egg whites and extracts in a bowl.
  3. Add the dry ingredients, beating to combine into a dough.
  4. Wrap well in plastic and chill at least one hour.
Assembly:
    Filling the Newtons
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 and line a baking sheet.
  2. Roll the dough into a thin layer (less than 1/4") on a floured surface or between sheets of waxed paper.
  3. Slice strips about 3 1/4" wide, and pipe the filling along the centre of each.
  4. Fold the sides over the filling, lightly pressing down to seal (add a brushing of water if necessary to stick).
  5. Slice into "two bite" sized pieces (about 1") and place on the lined sheet.
  6. Bake, one sheet at a time, for 12 minutes. Keep unbaked cookies in the fridge between bakes (or freeze for later baking).
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 78.0
Total Fat: 3.5 g
Cholesterol: 2.5 mg
Sodium: 17.0 mg
Total Carbs: 8.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.5 g
Protein: 0.9 g
Fig Newtons