Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Anise-Scented Fig and Date Swirls (Page 678)

  • Date: Monday, May 19, 2008 -- 11pm
  • Location: Somerville, MA
  • Kitchen: Matty's Apartment
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: B+

I put off making these tasty swirls because my spice grinder mysteriously stopped running sometime in the not-so-distant past. But I took it apart and showed it who was boss and now it does its magic once again. So I could grind anise seeds, which was step number one in putting together these cookies. The concept here is simple: an anise-scented cookie dough is rolled out into a rectangle, smeared with a pureed mixture of dates and figs, then rolled-up jelly roll style. The roll gets chilled, then the cookies are sliced off and baked. The cookies came out very professional looking. The filling had an excellent flavor and texture, and was in good proportion to the doughy part of the cookie. I liked the dough too, but I would leave out the anise in the future. There was little enough of it that the flavor didn't come through clearly, so it ended up giving the cookies a bit of an off taste. Either adding more and going for a real anise flavor or leaving it out entirely would make for a better cookie. Since I am not a huge fan of anise, I would vote for leaving it out. But as it was the cookies were still very tasty. One especially nice thing about this recipe is that the dough roll can be frozen, and then the cookies can be sliced off and baked as you need them. So if, unlike me and Matty, you don't want to eat an entire batch of cookies in a few days, you can keep some dough in the freezer and bake just a few cookies at a time!

Here is the recipe.

Since I will be in Boston for most of the summer the nice people at MIT gave me office space in the math department. Upon my return to MIT I was pleasantly surprised to discover a new women's bathroom right outside said office door. Historically, many math departments had very few women's bathrooms. I find this fact not particularly bothersome or offensive -- historically many math departments also had very few women. But as time went on more and more women chose to ignore the talking Barbie ("Math is hard!") and pursue a career in mathematics. But they had no place to pee. So began a long process of building women's bathrooms and/or converting men's bathrooms to women's. When I was an undergraduate at Stanford there was a bathroom in the math department that had been "converted" from men's to women's, by which I mean that they changed the little sign on the door so that the stick figure was wearing a skirt. In particular, the bathroom still had urinals in it. In response, a woman in the department filled the urinals with flowerpots. It was my favorite bathroom on campus -- very cheerful! For some reason (having to do with poisonous gases?!?) the flowerpots went away. Eventually the urinals did too. It's a regular old women's bathroom now. I miss the urinals actually. I found them to be a nice reminder of the way things change...

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