Fig Newton 2.0– A Holiday Discovery

I haven’t posted in a while. Busy with Christmas preparations.  Plus I wanted to make and photograph a dessert that I discovered a few years ago and wanted to share.

Each Christmas for several years, a local Italian deli sells these pastry wreaths filled with a fig and nut mixture that is absolutely out of this world.  It’s like a kicked up Fig Newton!

The deli sells each wreath by the pound, and after all was said and done, it did cost a pretty penny.  But it was worth it!

This year, I decided to try to make it myself, just to see if I could.  I didn’t know what it was called, so I googled  “Italian fig pastry”, and found out it was called Buccellato, and it is a Sicilian pastry traditionally eaten during the holidays, especially Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve.

I looked at many recipes for Buccellato, and took ideas from each one to create my version.  While I was making it, I realized why it may be so expensive…..it takes 2-3 days to complete, as after each step in the creation of the filling, pastry and actual wreath, the ingredients have to be refrigerated.  Plus there are a lot of ingredients!  But it turned out to be so worth it!

I think it will become a holiday tradition, as my family all loved it as much as I do!

Enjoy! And Happy Holidays!

Holiday Recipe — Buccellato

Filling:

1 lb. dried figs

1 cup orange juice or water, heated, for soaking the figs

1 Cup toasted Walnuts

½ cup golden raisins

¾ cup apricot jam

½ cup honey

1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon grated fresh nutmeg

1 Tablespoon orange zest

3 Tablespoon Rum

½ cup slivered almonds, toasted

½ cup pignoli nuts, toasted

½ cup dark chocolate chips

Dough:

3 cups flour

1 ½ sticks butter, chilled and cut into pieces

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1teaspoon orange zest

1 ½  teaspoon baking powder

Pinch salt

2 large eggs

2-3 tablespoon Marsala wine

1 teaspoon vanilla

Glaze:

4 tablespoons apricot jam

1 tablespoon water or orange juice used to soak the figs

Colored nonpareils/sprinkles for decorating

Make the filling

Remove any stems from the figs and place in a bowl.  Cover with the orange juice or water, heated, for about 15 minutes.  Drain the figs and reserve orange juice, if desired.

Place the figs, walnuts and raisins in a food processor, and process till coarsely chopped.

Add the remaining ingredients, except for the almonds, pignoli and chocolate, and pulse until combined. Mixture should look coarsely chopped and have some texture.

Place the filling in a bowl, then stir in the almonds, pignoli and chocolate chips.  Knead the mixture lightly to make a sticky filling.  Wrap   in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight to firm it up.  Filling can be made up to a week ahead.

Make the dough

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times to combine them.  Cut the butter into small cubes, and add to the food processor.  Pulse until mixture is course and crumbly.  Whisk the eggs with the lemon and orange zests in a separate bowl.    With the machine running, add the egg mixture through the feed tube. Pulse a few times until the mixture comes together around the blade.  Stop the machine and pinch the dough.  It should hold together.

Transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap and press it together to form a smooth dough.

If you want to make a large wreath, about 12 inch in diameter, take the dough and flatten it into a rectangle about 9 inches long and 4 inches wide.  For two smaller wreaths, about 9-10 inch diameter, divide the dough in half, and flatten each into a rectangle about 7 inches long and 4 inches wide.  Wrap flattened dough in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, or up to 3 days, before rolling.

Create the wreath

For 1 large wreath, take the 9 x 4 inch dough rectangle, and between 2 sheets of wax paper, sprinkled with a little flour,  roll out to make a rectangle about 12-13 inches long, about 4 ½-5 inches wide and about ¼ inch thick.

For two smaller wreaths, roll each of the prepared doughs to about 9-10 inches long and 41/2-5 inches wide, ¼ inch thick.

Take the filling, and on plastic wrap, roll into a  13 inch log for the large wreath, or two  7 inch logs for the 2 smaller wreaths.  Lay the filling logs along the center of the rolled out dough, and very gently, using the wax paper to help, fold over the long sides of the dough and pinch to seal, enclosing the filling.  Roll the log gently to smooth it out, then bring the two ends together to form a circle.  Pinch each end to seal it. Repeat for second wreath if making. Transfer to parchment covered baking sheet, and, using kitchen shears, make small 1 inch cuts along the bottom inner and outer edges of  the wreath.  Fan out each to expose some of the filling.  Then make decorative cuts with a knife on the top of the wreath, exposing the filling slightly.

 Cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight before baking. Dough should be cold before baking.

Baking

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake for about 30-40 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and let the buccellato  cool completely.

Glaze and Decorate the Buccellato

Heat up the apricot jam and orange juice or water, and brush on the top and sides of the wreath.  Decorate with the colored sprinkles.  Let glaze dry, then wrap in plastic wrap.

Buccellato can be stored at room temperature for about 5-7 days, or frozen up to 3 months.

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