This cookie is a container for some of my favourite flavour combinations. Chocolate and figs (Fresh Fig and Chocolate Tart). Fig and Almond (Marzipan Cake with Baked Figs). Anise and Almond (Almond Fennel Cake). I tried these flavours in an oatmeal cookie (the oats interfered with the specific tastes that I was craving) and also in a chewy cookie (too much like a fig newton) and finally settled on the neutral crispy delivery system of a shortbread. I made this final version for my father in law’s 80th birthday party, so in addition to liking the recipe the cookies now have happy memories attached to them!
These are the best smelling cookies I have ever baked. I have been known to make some sweet-smelling cookies (Lavender Almond, Rosewater Pistachio, Orange Blossom and Coconut), but to me these smell better. I would totally wear a perfume that smelled like anise and figs with a hint of almond and chocolate.
I am someone who prefers chocolate in small doses. I like to use chocolate as rich and bittersweet counterpoint in sweets. For example , one of my favourite cakes is a light hazelnut cake with tiny flecks of chocolate through it. The chocolate is very subtle in these cookies, but it adds it’s magic to each bite.
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter
- 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
- 2 teaspoon anise seeds
- 1/4 cup mini dark chocolate chips (or mince up some dark chocolate)
- 1/8 teaspoon almond extract or 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cups rice flour (I liked brown rice flour the best)
- 1/2 cup arrowroot starch (or cornstarch)
- 2 Tablespoons tapioca starch
- pinch of salt
- 16 whole almonds
- 4 dried mission figs each cut into four rounds
- Whir the anise seeds in a coffee grinder or food processor until it is a very fine powder.
- Cream the butter, anise and confectioners sugar in a large bowl untill light and fluffy. Fold in the chocolate and extract.
- Whisk the rice flour, arrowroot or corn starch, tapioca starch and salt together. Mix one and 1/4 cup of the flour mixture into the creamed butter and sugar. Gradually add the remaining flour, using your hands until it is glossy, pliable and every crumb has been gathered. You should be able to easily form the dough into little balls that then hold their shape. If this happens before you add all of the flour, don’t add any more flour! If the dough becomes dry and crumbly it will be very frustrating to shape the cookies. The dryness of flours and starches varies depending on their age and how they have been stored.
- Divide the dough into 4 large lumps and then divide each of those lumps into 4 balls. You should have 16 small balls of dough. Spread the balls out evenly on a parchment lined cookie sheet.Press a piece of dried fig and one almond into the top of each cookie. The goal is to submerge these morsels a bit without flattening the ball out too much. As you can see, they will spread as they cook (see bottom right photo).
- Refrigerate the cookie dough balls for 10 minutes while you preheat the oven to 325.
- Bake the cookies for 20-25 minutes or until they look a bit golden. Allow the cookies to cool before eating them. These cookies keep well for several days in a sealed container.
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Yum! Very special birthday cookies.