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  1. To make the filling: Remove the stems from the figs and cut in half. Combine all of the filling ingredients in a 6-quart saucepan and let the figs rehydrate at room temperature for at least 1 hour, or preferably overnight.

  2. After their soak, cook the figs and their hydrating liquid over medium heat, stirring every couple of minutes, until the liquid is syrupy but not completely reduced, 15 to 18 minutes depending on how long the figs have macerated. When you push the figs with a spoon, they should be soft enough to break apart easily. Remove them from the heat, cover with a lid, and let steam for 20 minutes.

  3. Remove the vanilla pod. Purée the figs with their liquid in a food processor until a paste forms. Cool the paste to room temperature.

  4. To make the dough: Using an electric mixer, briefly beat the butter on medium speed. Add the cream cheese and mix to combine. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, approximately 3 minutes. Add the vanilla, mixing briefly until incorporated. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.

  5. Whisk together the flour and salts. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture all at once and mix on low speed until the dough just comes together but still looks shaggy, approximately 30 seconds. Don't over-mix.

  6. Stretch two sheets of plastic wrap on a work surface. Divide the dough in half and place half on each piece of plastic. Pat into rectangles, wrap tightly, and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours or up to a week.

  7. Put a sheet of parchment paper on a work surface and dust lightly with flour. Roll one piece of dough into a 12" x 18" rectangle about 1/4" thick. If the edges become uneven, push a baker’s bench knife against the sides to straighten them. Repeat with the other piece of dough. Stack the sheets on top of each other and refrigerate until chilled, approximately 30 minutes.

  8. To assemble and bake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a few baking sheets with parchment.

  9. Remove one piece of rolled dough from the refrigerator and lay it on a work surface. Spread a thin, even layer of fig paste across the surface, using about 1 1/2 cups (half the paste). Trim the edges. Divide the dough in half lengthwise into two long strips. Working with one strip at a time and moving crosswise, cut the strips into ribbons approximately 1 1/4" wide and 5" long.

  10. Separate a ribbon away from the rest of the dough. Starting from the base, tightly fold (do not roll) the dough in thirds so it's more square than round. Place seam-side down on the prepared baking sheet and repeat with the remaining ribbons, spacing them on the pans 1" apart. Brush the tops with the egg white and sprinkle with sugar. Repeat with the other half of the dough and the remaining filling.

  11. Bake one pan at a time for 21 to 23 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on the pan for 1 to 2 minutes (don't wait too long or the paste will stick to the parchment paper). Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining pans.

  12. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Rolled and unbaked cookies can be refrigerated for up to 1 week before baking.