While I was at the store last week picking up some dried fruit for my granola, I spied a bag of dried black Mission figs and knew exactly what I was going to do with them -- bake up a batch of homemade fig newtons! Packaged fig newtons are my go-to roadtrip "treat," even though some of the ingredients give me the skeevies. A quick search on the Internet led to the discovery of several recipes for homemade newtons; I went with the recipe that sounded the tastiest. Long story short, though mine look clearly homemade, these fig newtons taste like the real deal. Now, if I could only figure out whether these bars should be classified as "cookie" or "cake." : )
Homemade Fig Newtons (adapted from this recipe)
makes 15-20 cookies ("cakes"!)
Note: Prep requires that you chill the dough overnight
For the dough:
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1/4 cup raw (unrefined and unbleached) sugar
1 tablespoon honey
2 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed orange juice
For the fig filling:
3/4 cup chopped dried black Mission figs
2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1/2 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
2. Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar, and orange zest until light and fluffy.
3. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time.
4. Stir in the honey and vanilla extract.
5. Pour in the sifted flour mixture all at once. Spoon in the orange juice. Stir until just combined.
6. Spread a large piece of plastic wrap on the countertop. Place the dough (which will be soft and sticky) onto the center of the wrap. Cover it completely and pat into a disk shape.
7. Place in the fridge to chill overnight.
8. To make the filling, add the figs, applesauce, honey, orange zest, and cinnamon to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture forms a smooth paste, using a spatula to scrape down the sides as necessary. Place in an airtight container and store in the fridge overnight. [Alternately, you can make the filling on day two and use immediately.]
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
2. Cover your work surface with flour.
3. Roll out the dough to a 1/4" thickness. Use a pastry or pizza cutter to cut the dough into 3 1/4"-wide by 6"-long strips.
4. Spoon the fig spread mixture (spreading it with a spatula to about 1" wide and a 1/4" thickness) down the center of each dough strip. If you find this is too difficult, alternately you can use a pastry bag to pipe the spread down the center of the dough, using a plain basket weave tip.)
5. Fold one side of the dough strip over top the fig spread. Then, flip/roll the dough over so that the seam is on the bottom. (If this direction makes no sense, check out the photos here.) Use a pastry brush to dust off any excess flour.
6. Place the fig bar roll on the parchment-lined baking sheet.
7. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the bars have slightly puffed up, are golden brown, and are just firm to the touch. If the dough appears moist or is sticky when touched, bake a few minutes more.
8. Once baked, remove from the oven and immediately cut into 1-2"-long rectangles.
9. While still warm, pack the bars in an airtight container, placing a sheet of parchment paper between layers.
10. Cookies should remain fresh for up to two weeks at room temperature.