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Anise-Scented Fig and Date Swirls
1 c Firmly packed dried figs (as soft as possible)
1 c Firmly packed pitted dates
1/3 c Water
1/2 c Plus 2 Tb granulated refined sugar
1 3/4 c All-purpose flour
1 tb Ground anise seeds
1/4 ts Baking powder
1/4 ts Baking soda
1/4 ts Salt
1/4 lb Unsalted butter, softened
4 oz Cream cheese
1 ts Vanilla
1 lg Egg yolk
1/4 c Granulated raw sugar (turbinado or Demerara)
In a blender puree figs and dates with water and 2 tablespoons refined sugar. In a bowl whisk together flour, anise, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl with an electric mixer beat together butter, cream cheese, and remaining 1/2 cup refined sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, yolk, and flour mixture and beat until a dough forms. Form dough into a disk. Chill dough, wrapped in waxed paper, 1 hour, or until firm enough to handle.
On a lightly floured sheet of waxed paper with a floured rolling pin roll out dough into a 13 by 10 in. rectangle, about 1/3 inch thick. Drop fig mixture by spoonfuls onto dough and gently spread an even layer over dough. Starting with a long side, roll dough jelly-roll fashion into a 13 in. log, using waxed paper as a guide. Roll log in raw sugar to coat. Chill log, wrapped in wax paper, 4 hours, or until firm.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly butter 2 baking sheets. Cut log into 1/3 in. thick rounds and arrange about 2 in.es apart on a baking sheets. Bake cookies in batches in middle of oven until pale golden, about 13 minutes, and transfer to racks to cool.
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