Dried Fruit and Nut Cookies
I saw Ina Garten make these dried fruit cookies the other day and was immediately mentally jotting down my ideas to make these a bit healthier. I’m a huge fan of the Barefoot Contessa but not so much a fan of butter and sugar. I like to take dessert recipes that I find of interest and tweak them to reduce the sugar, butter/oil and swap out the white flour.
I do this with many recipes, except my family’s Italian cookies. I just cannot tweak them as I view Italian cookies normally having less butters and sugars though using white flour. It just would not be an Italian Cookie Tray at Christmas without those tried and true family recipes!
When I do remake any desserts, it’s my coworkers that are tasked with the taste testing. No one seems to ever mind and most of them are happy that my treats are not breaking their healthy eating plans. Where I work we are “encouraged” to stay fit with free gym memberships, fitness programs that have us all walking around with pedometers and tracking our progress and daily nutritional and wellness emails to keep us informed. Cookies are banned from lunch meetings and healthy foods have filled our cafeteria and vending machines.
Daily smart choices are my “diet” and being able to splurge and treat myself without feeling guilty is important to me. So these little cookies did just that! The sweetness of the dried fruit made up for reducing the sugar and for the 2 sticks of butter, I replaced 1 stick with ½ cup of applesauce and the other stick with ½ cup of plain yogurt. Sharyn at the Kale Chronicles left me that tip to use yogurt in her comment on my Medjool Date and Walnut Bread recipe.
The original recipe called for soaking the dried fruit and nuts in Sherry; I used rum. I also did not use candied cherries as typically found in fruit cake, used turbinado sugar in place of the white and brown sugar and switched to whole wheat white flour instead of white. The cookies looked exactly like the original recipe as the dough maintained its shape when baked just as it was cut from the shaped rolled log. While I can’t compare the exast taste of her recipe to this one, those who tasted them were very pleased with the results and I’m definitely adding them to my favorite cookie recipes!
Dried Fruit and Nut Cookies
slightly adapted from Barefoot Contessa’s Dried Fruit Cookies
1 cup dried figs, stems removed and coarsely chopped
1 cup mix of dark raisins, golden raisins and cranraisins
½ cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped
¾ cup chopped pecans
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons dark rum
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
½ cup turbinado sugar
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1 extra large egg
2 2/3 cup whole wheat white flour or wheat pastry flour
¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
2 12×18 inch pieces of parchment or wax paper
In a medium size bowl, combine the figs, raisins, apricots, pecan, honey, rum lemon juice and salt. Cover and allow to sit overnight at room temperature.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the applesauce, yogurt and sugar until smooth. Add in the egg and mix until combined. Slowly add in the flour and ¼ teaspoon of salt until combined, but don’t overmix. Add in the fruits and nuts along with any liquid. Divide the dough in half and place each on a piece of waxed paper. Roll each half into a log, 1 ½ inch thick by 18 inch long. Refrigerate dough for several hours or until firm. (I froze one of the logs to bake at another time – this log will be sliced and baked from its frozen state.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. With a sharp knife, cut the logs into ½ inch thick slices. Place the slices ½ inch apart on ungreased sheet plans and bake until golden about 15-20 minutes Makes about 5 dozen small cookies.
I love being in the kitchen. Early mornings, soft music, a hot espresso. Easing into the preparation of delicious meals. Glancing through cookbooks, gathering inspiration and planning my day. I look forward to the cycles of the seasons, the pleasures of tasting and savoring and sharing this with those dear to me. Weekends are special to me as my week days are often rushed, but still I create the ambiance, light the candles, set the table and uncork the wine.
These look great! & if I used gluten free all purpose flour I’ll be able to eat them!
Wow! These look fantastic! I should try substituting apple sauce and yogurt for butter more often. I’m just always so afraid that it won’t work out well – but these sure do look good. I’ll just need to try it sometime and maybe I should start with this one since I know it will work. 🙂
Applesauce and the yogurt are good substitutions for most cookies, bread and cakes but I would not suggest that for flakier baked goods like pie crusts. The end product is moist not buttery crumbly.
Now, there’s a cookie I could eat for breakfast, and not feel guilty!
We have been eating these for breakfast!!
These look good — what’s the texture like? I would probably use dried sour cherries in the batter, perhaps instead of dried figs. The red would look nice in Christmas cookies. And walnuts, of course, California not being pecan territory. — Sharyn
The texture remains moist tho firm with the batch I have in my cookie jar most likely due to the applesauce. In my second batch I did use dried cherries along with the figs, apricots and almonds.
Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide
Rum soaked fruit in cookies, well OK!
I know, surprised are you!
What great ideas you have – we tend not to use much butter in baking here just because it´s not so easily available, but also for health reasons. They have a kind of Christmassy feel to them – will have to give these a go as i wouldn´t feel guilty eating them 🙂 How is your foot by the way?
I felt they have a fall/holiday feel to them as well and with a dusting of confectioners sugar be on my cookie tray this year!! Thanks for asking, my foot is finally out of the boot cast and in flat shoes as of this week!!
Though I’m not a fan of dried fruit, these do look interesting. I’ll have to give them a try!
I’ll have to try them and tweak the recipe a little — I’m imagining I want a sandy, shortbready kind of texture to balance the fruit and nuts, so, in my case, back comes the butter, out goes the applesauce. I’ll report back after I’ve made them.
Sympathies on your foot injury — I’ve survived two Jones’ fractures, one in each foot, and am fine now. — Sharyn
I so like that you’ve made these a bit healthier. Even so, I’d love to be in the room when you brought out the Italian Cookie Tray. Now that’s a party!
Geni - Sweet and Crumby
These look great and will definitely try some of your tips to replace the fat and sugar in my recipes with better alternatives. I want to work where you do! Gym membership, healthy vending machines…WOW!
These are beautiful. I love the figs in these cookies.
Oh, these look so tasty – I particularly like the dates, apricots and pecans – wonderful ways of bringing natural sugar and fats into the diet. If you are looking to moderate saturated fats from butter, olive oil is also a nice substitute. The clove is a lovely autumn touch.
These look so delicious, and I love that they’re a healthier alternative. Ina Garten’s recipes are the best! Great use of figs. 🙂
I am going to try apple sauce instead of sugar and see how it works for my usual baking 🙂 Thanks for the tip!
I have never been one to like fruit in my cookies but I think you just sold me on it because these look so fantastic and tempting how could i not eat one or two or three? Beautiful and just perfect for the fall
These look fantastic to me and there is nothing wrong with use a little rum instead of sherry! 🙂
I love dried fruit and these looks so delicious! Great for this time of the year. Yummy!
Does not compute!
I will have to try these once I have a kitchen again =)
Wow Linda, these cookies look delicious, love the variety of dried fruits and nuts in it…beautifully done.
Hope you are having a fantastic week 🙂
They really look beautiful and soaking in rum is definitely something I would prefer too, so I am sure your cookies were perfect. I adore your plate (or the bit I can see of it).
I must check this msyterious turbinado sugar (I have already seen it on several blogs).
Nuts about Food
How cool is that, your job pays for memberships in a gym? Wow. Beautiful looking cookies
Linda, the cookies look wonderful – I like the sweetness from the dried fruit. I must say I love colleagues who enjoy the wonders of our cooking and baking
looks yummy .. !!
Kosher salt? I never heard of that before :O
Hi Kim, Kosher salt is a larger grain of salt and does not contain iodine, which is a preservative in table salt. Iodine is a necessary mineral, but just not in my salt! Try it out, the flavor is more true than using table salt – if you watch any chef shows you will see that they all use it!!