I already know before I make this that it will be the last one left on the cookie tray. It sounds suspiciously like fruitcake and implies more character development than celebration. Why persist? Well, I like dried fruit when it’s real (not that candied cherry stuff) and we have a great selection of dried fruit in Tunis year-around. But it was the markets in Nice (France) that really inspired me. There, I saw authentically dried and candied fruit of every variety and stall after stall had them arrayed in their jewel-like glory. It made me really want to work with them in some way. So can we please consider these cookies to be French and “oh so Provence” and not just another attempt by me to slip 70s hippie food into unsuspecting lives?
I also really liked that this is a log cookie that you cut and bake. This way, you can bake them up hot and fresh for the moment and who can resist warm cookies?
Joking aside, these cookies have none of the disjointed texture and flavors, not to mention the unfoods, of annoying fruitcakes. These cookies are buttery and the fruits each have delicious flavors which are enhanced by the dough. These might actually get snatched off the tray first thing.
Dried Fruit Cookies, adapted fromIna Garten
Ingredients 1/2 pound dried pears
1/4 pound raisins
2 ounces dried Montmorency cherries, coarsely chopped
2 ounces dried apricots, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 ounces chopped pecans
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 extra-large egg
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
Snip off the hard stems of the figs with scissors or a small knife and coarsely chop the figs. In a medium bowl, combine the figs, raisins, cherries, apricots, honey, sherry, lemon juice, pecans, and a pinch of salt. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit overnight at room temperature.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, cloves, superfine sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the egg and mix until incorporated. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt just until combined. Don’t overmix! Add the fruits and nuts, including any liquid in the bowl. Divide the dough in half and place each half on the long edge of a 12 by 18-inch piece of parchment or waxed paper. Roll each half into a log, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4-inch thick, making an 18-inch-long roll. Refrigerate the dough for several hours, or until firm.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
With a small, sharp knife, cut the logs into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place the slices 1/2-inch apart on ungreased sheet pans and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly golden.
Brown paper packages tied up with string. A favorite thing, indeed.