I mentioned the possibility of homemade fig newtons on my facebook page the other day and everyone went a little gaga over the idea. I was a little surprised, to be honest.
I figured nobody really liked fig newtons, you see. When I was a kid, they were the cookie you got in your lunchbox because your parents didn’t want you to eat way-more-yummy-but-not-as-healthy chocolate chip cookies, right? Well, turns out fig newtons didn’t need my sympathies. Plenty of people really do like them after all.
I looked at a bunch of homemade fig bars on various blogs. They were all made with dried figs because actual fig newtons have a dried fig filling. I hope you don’t mind but I made an executive decision to use fresh figs in my filling since I wasn’t hung up on recreating an authentic “newton experience”. I just wanted some great fig bars.
The fig jam on its own is simple to make, and pretty freaking fabulous. If these cookies do not appeal to you, you can just make the jam and use it how you like! I actually made a double batch of the jam a few weeks before I made the cookies, and I’ve been loving it. If you make the recipe as written below, you should have enough for the cookies, plus a little extra.
I made the dough for these bars with Jovial Organic Einkorn Flour. I am a big fan of this flour for baking: it makes delicious treats and I feel really good about using it because it is nutrient dense, has not been hybridized like modern wheat, and contains less gluten. Feel free to use unbleached, all-purpose flour instead, if you like.
A couple of notes about the method for making these cookies:
- You’ll want the dough to chill in the refrigerator before you roll it out. If you don’t refrigerate it, it will be too soft and you’ll end up with a mess. On the other hand, you don’t want it to be too stiff because then it may “break” when you work with it…one hour should be enough time for chilling.
- I added quite a bit of extra flour while I was rolling out the dough because I did find it to be a pretty sticky. Flour is your friend: make sure to use it on the rolling pin, too. You may have an easier time rolling the dough between two sheets of parchment, but I didn’t. I did keep a piece of parchment under the dough while I was rolling it, but I flipped the dough and added more flour a few times as I was rolling so that the dough wouldn’t stick. If you have a plastic dough scraper, it will probably come in handy. If your dough end ups sticking/tearing, don’t worry- just patch it up with a little scrap of extra dough trimmed off from the edge. You don’t want the dough too think, but you don’t want it too thin, either (1/8 inch thick is just about right).
- Watch out for adding more filling than your dough can accommodate. The dough is pretty sturdy but you don’t want the jam to bust out during baking…the amount of jam I added down the center of each strip of dough was perfect.
- You will want to use your fingers to gently seal the edges of the dough together after you add the jam. If you don’t seal the dough well enough, the jam will ooze out.
- You will want to roll the dough over so the seam is on the bottom before you slice these into bars. This will help to keep the jam in place.
If you want to make your fig jam without sugar, try this recipe for Honey Fig Jam from Tasty Yummies. If you want to try these cookies with a dried fig jam, here’s a recipe from The Kitchn. For a gluten-free version of fig cookies, try this recipe from The Free People Blog.
Recipe for Homemade Fig Newtons
Yield: about 40 cookies
You will love this homemade version of fig newtons made with a fresh fig filling.
For the jam:
*1 pound just-ripe figs
*1 cup organic sugar
*3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
For the dough:
*1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (I used organic butter)
*1/2 cup sugar (I used organic sugar)
*1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
*1 large egg, at room temperature (I used eggs from my backyard chickens)
*1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used Jovial Organic Einkorn Flour)
For the jam:
1. Trim the stems from the figs, then quarter them cross-wise.
2. Combine figs, sugar, and lemon juice in a mixing bowl and stir to combine. Cover and place in the refrigerator overnight.
3. Transfer mixture to a pan on the stove and bring to a boil. Reduce heat slightly and, stirring constantly, cook until the hot jam is thickened (about 10 minutes).
4. Allow to cool then transfer to the blender. Blend until the fig jam is smooth, then transfer to a glass jar and refrigerate.
For the cookies:
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and smooth. Add the sugar, vanilla, and salt and beat on medium until well blended (about 3 minutes).
2. Add egg and beat for another minute. Add flour and beat on medium speed until just blended.
3. Place 2 large pieces of plastic wrap on a work surface. Divide dough in half and place the two piece of dough on the 2 pieces of plastic and cover. Shape each one into an even flat disc. Refrigerate for about 1 hour, or until firm enough to roll out.
4. Working with one disc at a time, on a well-floured piece of parchment paper, roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 11 1/4 x 15 inches. (If yours measures a bit smaller, that is ok (but do try to keep the shape a rectangle). Don't roll the dough too thin (about 1/8 inch thick is perfect).
5. Transfer dough on parchment onto a baking sheet and refrigerate for about 1 hour.
6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper (or silpat liners).
7. Working with one sheet at a time, slide dough onto your work surface. Dust dough lightly with flour. Cut dough lengthwise into equal width strips (use a ruler to measure if you like). Spoon jam down the length of each strip (keep it about an inch away from the edges), then carefully fold the dough over the filling. Use your fingertips to gently seal the edges together. Roll the dough over so the seam is on the bottom. Cut the cookies into 1 1/2-inch wide pieces and arrange them about an inch apart on parchment or silpat-lined baking sheets.
8. Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes, or until the edges and bottoms are starting to brown. Transfer to wire rack to let cool completely.
Jam recipe from The Joy of Jams, Jellies, and Other Sweet Preserves: 200 Classic and Contemporary Recipes Showcasing the Fabulous Flavors of Fresh Fruits
; cookie recipe adapted from Baking Out Loud: Fun Desserts with Big Flavors.