These modest little cookies first appeared in Gourmet about 15 years ago, and they were republished in their Best Of cookie issue in 2001. They are simple enough, although they do involve a little more work than the average drop cookie. Their base is a simple, sturdy cream cheese dough infused with freshly ground anise. You roll this dough out and slather on a filling of dried figs and dates, ground to a paste in a food processor. Roll the whole thing up, cover with crunchy turbinado sugar, and chill. Then you can cut slices and bake as needed — the convenience of an icebox cookie!
For me, these provide everything I want in a cookie. Just two or three small bites of something sweet — not a monster cookie as big as my head. Their pretty swirls look lovely in a rustic way, glinting with a bit of crunchy sugar. And the taste! They taste gently of spicy anise, and sweet with jammy dates and figs. The dough is crisp on the outside, but chewy in the middle. Sweet, spicy, chewy — these are the ultimate cookies to eat with a cup of hot black tea. So, there you have it. Meet my favorite fall cookie — perhaps my favorite cookie, period. • Get the recipe: Anise-Scented Fig and Date Swirls at Epicurious Related: Sweet and Light: Icebox Cookies for Portion Control (Images: Faith Durand)