For this cookie, we created a hybrid of two of our favorite treats — fig bars and jam-filled thumbprint cookies. We started with a basic thumbprint cookie dough, but enriched it with the deep flavors of browned butter. And instead of filling it with any old jam, we made a thick, rich fig jam. The result is a delicious and beautiful holiday treat.
The finishing touch on these cookies is a sprinkle of vanilla sugar, which some grocers sell in the baking aisle. If you can't find it, you can substitute regular granulated sugar or make your own vanilla sugar. To do so, stir together 1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste with 1 cup granulated sugar. Spread the mixture on a rimmed baking sheet and cook for 10 minutes at 250 F to dry.
BROWN BUTTER FIG THUMBPRINT COOKIES
Start to finish: 2 hours (1 hour active)
Makes 2 dozen cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/4 cup powdered milk
6 ounces dried figs, chopped
1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar (or regular granulated sugar)
In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the butter and powdered milk. Cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned and nutty in fragrance. Remove from the heat and allow to cool and solidify.
Meanwhile, make the filling. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the figs, orange juice and water. Cook, stirring regularly, until the figs are broken down and very soft, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and processor until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool completely.
When the butter mixture is ready, in a medium bowl combine it with the sugar and salt. Use an electric mixer to beat until creamy and well combined. Stir in the flour until a thick dough comes together.
Heat the oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with kitchen parchment.
To shape and fill the cookies, pinch off a tablespoon of dough. Roll the dough into a ball, then press your thumb into the center to make an indentation. Fill the center with 2 teaspoons of the fig mixture, then arrange on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with vanilla sugar. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown.
Transfer the cookies to a rack and allow to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Nutrition information per cookie: 150 calories; 70 calories from fat (47 percent of total calories); 8 g fat (5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 20 mg cholesterol; 19 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 7 g sugar; 2 g protein; 25 mg sodium.