This week’s Baking with Julia recipe is the X Cookie. The X Cookie is a biscuit that has a fig and rum mixture encased in a dough, then shaped to look like an X. I started off by halving the original recipe because my waistline really doesn’t need 5 dozen cookies, although I am sure you would be able to freeze them if you wanted. When I read the ingredients I had visions of a Christmas biscuit, but I felt the recipe needed something extra to give it a more Christmassy flavour, so I have amped up the spices by adding ginger, nutmeg, cloves and more cinnamon. I also swapped rum for cherry brandy and added orange zest in to the filling. Although these cookies were a little fiddly and time consuming to make the end result was a very pleasing, subtle tasting biscuit. However, the next time I make them I will try increasing the ratio of spices and chocolate and I will also add orange zest into the dough for even more flavour.
Adapted from Baking with Julia, Contributing Baker Nick Malgieri.
- 335gm all purpose flour
- 75gm sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 115gm cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 2 large eggs.
- 170gm dried figs (make sure they are soft and moist)
- 40gm unblanched almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
- 50gm apricot jam
- 25gm sultanas
- 25gm mixed peel
- 45gm dark chocolate, chopped
- 25gm cherry brandy
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Zest of one orange.
- yolk of one egg
- pinch of salt.
- Icing sugar to dust.
To make the dough place the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter cubes and pulse until mixture resembles fine bread crumbs.
Add the eggs and pulse until the dough forms a ball around the blade.
Remove from bowl and place on a lightly floured bench. Knead briefly until fully combined and smooth. Shape into a log and wrap in plastic wrap. Set aside while you make filling – no need to refrigerate.
To make the filling remove the stems from the figs and coarsely chop figs. Place in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Allow to steep for five minutes then drain well. (I placed drained figs on paper towels and patted down to get as much moisture out as possible).
Place figs and remaining filling ingredients into the food processor bowl and pulse until mixture is finely chopped. Use a spatula to scrap mixture onto a lightly floured bench.
The mixture is quite moist so use some more flour and mix in with the filling until you can form the filling into a rough log. Cut the log into 6 even sized pieces and set aside.
Divide the dough into 6 even sized pieces.
On a lightly floured work surface take the first piece of dough and roll the dough with your hands to form a 12 inch rope. Flatten the rope and use a rolling pin to make a 3inch x 12inch rectangle.
With the longest side facing you, brush egg wash along the top side of the rectangle.
Take one piece of the filling and roll into a 12inch rope and centre it on the rectangle.
Tip: The filling is very sticky and hard to handle so I rolled out the filling about 6inches long and placed it in the middle of the dough and spread it evenly down the middle by hand.
Take the edge of the dough closest to you and fold over the filling keeping it fairly tight and close to the filling. Fold over again to meet the egg washed edge and roll out until approx. 15 inches in length.
Trim the ends to have neat edges then cut the rope into even lengths. (2 1/2 inch lengths for the X shapes and 3 inch lengths for the O shapes).
To make the X shape place the 2 1/2 inch vertically in front of you and cut down the centre for 1 inch. Turn the piece around and cut down the centre for 1 inch. Separate the slashes to make an X shape.
To make the O shape cut almost to the end of one 3 inch piece. Twist each side and join in the ends together.
Repeat for the remaining dough and filling.
Bake @ 180°C for approx. 15 – 20 minutes or until they are a light golden colour.
Place on wire racks to cool completely and then dust generously with icing sugar.