Fig balls

July 24, 2010  •  Category: ,


In the summer when we trade the noise of Beirut for mountain noise, here is what we get:

A  rooster announcing  his activity  several times during the day  starting at 5 AM; coyotes howling plaintively  in the valley at 11 PM nightly; daily fireworks for reasons ranging from the latest soccer game to a  feast celebrating a religious figure (plug-in the religion of your choice); the muted roar of enemy drones circling the skies; cars honking for a wedding procession; a  cackle of hens laying eggs (sold the next day at the grocer); at  9:30AM the rolling grind of steel blinds being raised to signal the beginning of a business day.

This cookie  is normally  filled with date paste; I made it with store-bought fig jam, the kind of jam that contains walnuts and sesame seeds and anise seeds and mastic.

The cookie itself is a shortbread-type, very crumbly  with a  melt-in-the mouth quality.

For an easy fig jam recipe, using above ingredients, clickhere.

INGREDIENTS: This quantity will yield about 45 cookies

  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour (add a bit more if needed)
  • 1/2 cup of cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup of powdered sugar
  • 1 heaping teaspoon of vanilla sugar or a teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup of milk (or more as needed)
  • 8 ounces of unsalted butter
  • 1 egg yolk (optional)
  • 1 cup of fig  jam


  1. Place the flour, cornstarch, powdered sugar and vanilla sugar in a food processor. Mix a few seconds to blend all the ingredients well; add the butter cut in chunks and mix until the mixture begins to form a mass; add a few tablespoons of milk gradually until the dough holds together and is moist and compact.
  2. Remove the dough and place on a counter; chop off small walnut-sized lumps of dough and place side-by-side on a piece of foil; do the same for the fig jam, making the pieces a teaspoon-size.
  3. Flatten the balls of dough; place a ball of fig jam on each; fold over from all sides to enclose; roll between the palms of both hands to shape into a smooth ball. Place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
  4. Beat the egg yolk slightly; brush on the balls and with a fork, press on each ball lightly to form an imprint in the glaze.
  5. Bake in a preheated 350F (180C) oven till slightly golden and dry to the touch.

Recipe is from Anahid’s Gourmet cookbook. (adapted)


19 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. peter says:

    An excellent idea…there’s always an abundance of over ripe figs, just screaming to be used up.


  2. Miriam says:

    I love this! Anything with a date or a fig filling is up my alley… I’m bookmarking them for the winter…

  3. Magdalena says:

    A lot of noises, it must be tiring somehow in the morning…here, it is quite calm actually, except for flying rats meaning pigeons making a lot of noise in the morning!
    The rolls look easy to prepare; the only problem I could have it to “close” the roll – is it difficult?
    Very nice recipe for summer breakfast, or for 5 o’clock.
    Take care!

    • Joumana says:

      @Magdalena: the dough is very malleable; soft and on the moist side; just enclose the fig ball from all sides and roll around until the shape turn into a ball.

  4. john@heneedsfood says:

    These look so easy to eat and would be an ideal snack while wandering around those gorgeous mountain villages

  5. Oui, Chef says:

    YUM…these look fabulous. Like taking “fig newtons” to a whole new level, and I’m quite sure the kids will love them! – S

  6. SYLVIA says:

    I love this fig jam, it has a phenomenal taste, whoever invented this jam I thank you now, figs are high in fiber, beta- carotene, and excellent for digestive health, sometimes the simple recipes are the best ones.
    Joumana, is it difficult to walk up and down on that steep street? I am greatly admiring the vistas full of vegetation, and fruits that are popping up everywhere.

  7. FOODESSA says:

    Did anyone just mention figs? Now, you must know by now how much I adore those fruits. As a matter of fact…the fig jam I buy is actually imported from Lebanon!

    Roosters are a nice addition to you overall vacation feeling…however, they kind of give me the creepies. Must be a bad childhood memory. Now, the hens…are slightly cuter ;o)

    Ciao for now and flavourful wishes,

  8. oum mouncifrayan says:

    elle est excellente cette recette!!! bravo

  9. T.W. Barritt says:

    Ha! So much for the peace and quiet of the country! I live in a relatively quiet area, but even on weekends, I seem to be up at the crack of dawn. I would love a taste of these fig balls to start the day!

  10. Alfonso says:

    reminds me of the cucidati from Sicily…very similar, probably share the same origins

  11. shayma says:

    you are an utter star, Joumana. x shayma

  12. Magdalena says:

    Thanks for answering !
    And I share your opinion about uprooting of Palestinians. Have a nice evening!

  13. Robyn Kalajian says:

    Joumana, Every recipe you post looks amazing! I admire your skill and talent, and urge you to keep up the wonderful work you are doing.

  14. Amber @Almost Vegan says:

    I love fig jam SO much! These look amazing!

  15. Bria @ WestofPersia says:

    Love figs, love these cookies–seriously, this style of cookie is one of my favorites. I have to say, your colorful description of the sounds of summer made me feel like I was there. Well done!

  16. Susan says:

    I saw this when you first posted it but couldn’t comment for some, odd reason. They look delightful! Anything with the word shortbread used in the description has my immediate attention 🙂

  17. OysterCulture says:

    Dates of figs, this cookie sounds amazing. Figs are in season here, so this version sounds about perfect. What a delicious idea.

  18. Tall Clover says:

    I love fig jam, so how perfect is this cookie recipe. I look forward to trying it with apricot jam, or peach jam too.

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