Oranges and figs are two of my favorite flavors, so I figured they would go very well together. They do, indeed, make a perfect couple. In addition, figs have impressive makeup, so if you want to read more about figs, check out Healthline.
My local grocery store has a jar of jam called Orange and Fig Jam. I was astonished because I do not recall ever seeing that blend of flavors in the grocery stores in my area, but it is time I take a second look.
But the cookies needed a little crunch with the soft filling of the orange and figs and the soft cookies with the cream cheese. So, of course, that almost always means adding some nuts. I could not think of a better nut than the all-mighty walnut for this combination. I also learned you could purchase Fig and Walnut Butter in a jar; I had no idea they made it.
Dried Figs vs Fresh Figs
Mighty figs benefit your health whether you like fresh or dried figs. The MedicalNewToday has an article on figs (they only source peer-reviewed studies) which lists the benefits, risks, fresh vs. dried, and nutrition of figs.
Although the dried figs are higher in calories and sugar, they are also higher in some important minerals, vitamins and dietary fiber.
Dried figs are my favorite for baking cookies. Fresh figs are much bigger and contain more moisture than the dried figs. Fresh figs are not available year-round, and the dried figs I can get any time.
I also find that the dried has a more concentrated fig flavor, like a Fig Newton cookie. I always think fresh figs are best for cake batter, cheese, and crackers. You can cut them into quarters, add honey, and roast them.
If a recipe calls for dried figs, that is what you want to use, or you will need to adjust the ingredients for the moisture content.
Making Orange Fig Filling
The first thing to do is to prepare the dried figs to be infused with the orange. This means trimming and cutting them up so they can be cooked. If you cannot find small pieces of walnuts, you will need to chop the ones you have so they are small.
You will need to remove the stems, which are sometimes pressed down flat and hard to find. Just cut them off at the base of the stem.
Cut the figs into small pieces and set them in a bowl.
Next, juice and zest an orange into separate containers. You will also need to zest a lemon.
You will also need to measure out ¼ of a cup of sugar.
In a small saucepan, add the cut-up figs, the water, sugar, lemon zest, and the orange juice and zest. Bring this to a boil. Stir often until the figs are soft. Then, using a wooden spoon, start to break them up. Reduce the liquid to half.
It takes about 10 minutes to reduce the liquid to about a ⅓ left in the pan. You can use a stick blender, regular blender, or food processor to blend everything. With my stick blender (Breville Control Grip Immersion Blender from Williams Sonoma), it took about 40 seconds to mix these.
You want the puree to still have a little liquid, but all the pieces are fine enough to spoon into the cookie wells.
The reason for keeping the mixture moist is that adding the small, chopped walnuts will absorb some of the remaining liquid. Also, the fig filling does not dry out when baking the cookies.
Leave in a bowl so it will cool down while you make the cookie dough. Stir the mixture once in a while to keep the fig filling moist.
Create Thumbprint Cookies
This is a simple and easy cookie dough recipe. Measure or weigh the sugar into a bowl and set aside. In another bowl, weigh or measure the flour.
In a mixer bowl, mix the butter and cream cheese on a medium speed until combined.
Next, add in the sugar and mix for 3 minutes on a medium mixer speed.
Finally, add the flour and mix until the flour is incorporated, about a minute. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Next, take your thumb straight down the middle of the dough ball, but do not go the whole way through. I also move my thumb around to make the hole wider but not deeper.
Take a small spoon and fill the holes with the orange fig filling. This is why you want to keep the fig filling a little moist since baking will take a little moisture out of the filling.
Bake at 350°F (175°C or 180°C) for 11-13 minutes. Leave them on the pan for a minute after taking them out of the oven before moving them to a cooling rack.
The wonderful thing about thumbprint cookies is you can use almost any kind of jam you love. Be careful of using preserves since this type has chunks of fruit in it. But you can certainly work around this if you are in a pinch for a filling.
I have found that if you dip your thumb into flour and shake off the excess it will make it easier to make the well.
I store my cookies with cut-to-sized pieces of parchment paper on the bottom of the container and between layers of cookies. I have a lid, but I do not seal it. These cookies need air since they have quite a bit of butter and cream cheese in the cookie dough. They keep nicely for 5 to 6 days.
Orange Fig Filling Leftover Ideas
I purchased this small decorative jars that seal. The left over orange fig filling filled 2 of these jars and will keep in the refrigerator for about two weeks.
This a favorite of mine: toast a bagel, spread cream cheese all over the slice and then add some of the orange fig jam on top. OMG this is so good!
I serve a wedge of Brie cheese and a jar of this wonderful orange fig jam as an appetizer for my family at Christmas.
Other Thumbprint Cookies
Orange Fig Thumbprint CookiesBarbara Hall
- 8 ounce (8 ounce) Cream Cheese softened
- 1 cup (227 g) Butter unsalted room temperature
- 1 cup (200 g) Sugar white
- 2 ½ cups (312.5 g) All-purpose flour
ORANGE FIG FILLING
- 8 ounce (8 ounce) Dried figs cut small
- ¼ cup (50 g) Sugar white
- 1 Tablespoon (1 Tablespoon) Orange zest
- ¼ cup (62 g) Orange juice fresh
- ½ teaspoon (0.5 teaspoon) Lemon zest
- 1 cup (236.59 g) Water
- ⅓ cup (39 g) Chopped walnuts
- Weigh or measure the sugar and set the bowl aside. In another bowl, weigh or measure the flour and set the bowl aside,
- Blend the butter and cream cheese in a stand or hand-held mixer on medium speed. Add the sugar and mix for 2 to 3 minutes. I turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides and across the bottom. Then, turn the mixer back on for about 30 seconds. Turn the mixer down low and slowly add the flour until incorporated. I check the bottom of the mixer bowl to ensure all the flour has been mixed. Loosely cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
ORANGE FIG FILLING
- Cut off the stems of the figs and then cut them into small pieces—zest and juice one orange into separate bowls. You should be able to get ¼ cup of juice from one orange, in a third bowl, zest one lemon. You just want the yellow and not any of the white that is under the outer skin.
- Add the cut-up figs, orange zest, orange juice, lemon zest, sugar, and water to a small saucepan and turn the burner to medium heat. You want to bring this to a boil. You can adjust the temperature so it is a low boil and not a hard boil. You want the liquid to evaporate. As the mixture gets thicker, I take a wooden spoon and smash the figs to help break them up. You want to remove the saucepan from the heat when you have about ⅓ of the liquid left in the bottom of the saucepan. This takes about 10 minutes.
- I used a stick blender, but you can use a regular blender to finish making this fig filling like a jam. The stick blender took about 30 seconds. Pour into a bowl so it can cool down. It usually takes 10-15 minutes to cool. Finally, add the chopped-up walnuts and incorporate them into the fig mixture. Stir once in a while to keep it moist.
- Preheat 350°F (175°C or 180°C) and line 2 cookie sheet pans with parchment paper. I used a medium cookie scoop for the cookie ball. Roll the cookie dough into a ball with your hands using a medium cookie scoop to scoop the cookie dough. If the dough has gotten too cold and hard, warm the cookie dough ball in your hand. It will make it easier to do the thumbprint.
- Put your thumb straight down into the ball and then just spread out the hole a little so you have a lovely well for the fig filling. Add the fig filling using a teaspoon. Bake for 11-13 minutes. You want the bottoms to be light brown. Once the cookies are removed from the oven, leave them on the cookie sheet pan for a few minutes, then move to a cooling rack.
- You will have some of the fig filling left over; I put the fig filling into small containers to use on toast or bagels. Can be stored in the fridge for 2 weeks.
I am not a certified Dietitian or Nutritionist. The nutrition amounts given below are provided through a program and are only a guideline.