Homemade Fig Newtons

homemade fig newtons

I am a big fan of cookie dunking.  We’ve covered my need to dunk before (when I talked about my hamantaschen recipe, which you can find here) but such a contentious topic deserves a bit more attention.

You see, Jeff is firmly anti-dunking.  He likes cookies best in their natural state and finds the sweet softness of a dunked confection to be unappetizing at best and downright nauseating at worst.  For Jeff this, as with most food-related aversions, is a texture issue.  And it’s no shock that he lives in fear of soggy cookies since he is the same man who removes the submerged toast from his French onion soup before digging in. 

homemade fig newtonsBut for me, the marriage of cookie and beverage is the best part of the whole cookie experience.  But not all cookie and beverage combinations are created equal.  To my mind, certain drinks call out for certain cookies.  For example, the classic combination of biscotti and cappuccino works wonderfully because the airy foam softens the hard cookie just enough to produce a mouth-watering crumb.  But rusks, the extra-hard South African cousin of biscotti, are best dunked in hot tea, as the jaw-breaking biscuit benefits greatly from the tea’s softening powers. Nice, crisp gingersnaps also work well dunked in tea as they retain their form and bite.  Hot chocolate is best with a square of buttery shortbread, which not only stands up to the heat, but soaks in the chocolate flavor making the cookie itself doubly intense.

Of course, chocolate chip cookies are destined for a swim in a nice tall glass of milk.  The cool milk cuts through the richness of the cookie, and works particularly well when the cookie is warm. There are, in fact, a whole school of traditional American cookies that beg for a glass of cold milk; graham crackers, peanut butter cookies (super easy recipe here), and Fig Newtons among others.

As a kid I was never a big fan of Fig Newtons.  In my mind they fell into the dreaded category of “healthy treats” simply because fruit was involved.  I probably hadn’t had a Fig Newton in twenty years until a few weeks ago, when stuck starving on the tarmac on a delayed flight, I accepted a generous gift from the gentleman in the seat next to me. Not bad, but as I sat in my tight middle seat on that 747, longing for a glass of milk, I pondered how to make new and improved Fig Newtons at home.  Convenient that I had just made a batch of quick fig jam!

homemade fig newtonsFresh figs and a flaky dough are a definite improvement over the sticky sweet filing and squishy texture of the packaged version. These cookies are just perfect with a glass of milk.  The texture holds up well to dunking and the cold milk does wonders for the rich, buttery dough. I used fresh Calimyrna figs for the simple filling here. Sweet, nutty, and thin-skinned, these light green figs are perfect for snacking and also perfect for a quick-fix fig jam. Feel free to substitute any other figs you like. And in a pinch, jarred fig preserves will do just fine.

Homemade Fig Newtons

2 cups chopped Calimyrna figs

1/3 cup water

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 cup flour (plus extra for dusting)

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ cup sugar

4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

2-3 tablespoons milk

In a small saucepan over low heat, cook the figs, water, and brown sugar, stirring occasionally, for about 30-40 minutes, until very soft. Cool to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a food processor, pulse the flour, salt, cinnamon, baking powder and sugar to mix. Cut the butter in small chunks and add to the flour mixture. Pulse until the butter is well incorporated and the mixture is sandy in texture. Add the milk, one tablespoon at a time, and pulse just until the dough comes together. You may not need all of the milk. Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and form into a ball, kneading once or twice, just until the ball holds together. Quickly roll out the dough into a long rectangle about 1/6 inch thick. Cut the rectangle in half. On one half of the dough, spread half of the fig mixture. Fold the dough over the fig mixture and pinch to close. Cut in 1-2 inch bars. Repeat with remaining dough and jam. Bake on a greased cookie sheet 20-25 minutes until lightly brown. Cool and serve with a glass of milk.

I featured these fig bars in my column in the Dedham Transcript this month. Check out the article here.

Published in: on October 17, 2010 at 12:54 pm  Comments (30)  
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30 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Talk about delicious. My dad is crazy over Fig Newtons. I thought they were extinct. Love the recipe. My mom is getting this one!

  2. Oh I love these! I had been thinking for the longest time of making fig newtons and now you have given me the courage to try to make some! I am like your husband though, dunking is not my thing. I even like the biscottis dry on their own.

  3. I love fig newtons, but commercial ones are laced with corn sugar which I cannot eat. Soooo, these are on my radar. Thank you so much for working on the development of these. Do you not think dried figs will work well with this recipe? I like dried figs maybe even better than fresh ones.

    • I do think dry could work – the texture would be different but if you soak them in some hot water before chopping and cooking with a bit of sugar they should work just fine.

  4. Do you also have a recipe for crisp, spicy gingersnaps?

    • You know, I don’t! But a friend does, I will hav eto get her recipe and share it with you all.

  5. The fig newtons look amazingly delicious. They’re my favorite store-bought cookie. I bet they’re a million times better homemade!


  6. Those look delicious! I’d love a couple of these right now with some hot tea. Yum!

  7. Homemade fig newtons?? That’s incredible! I didn’t even know that was possible 🙂 They look wonderful 🙂

  8. I have never had those before…they sound perfect enjoy with a glass of almond milk!

  9. Fig Newtons are one of those things (like s’mores) I’ve only read about in American books but would love to try, wonder if they’re like the raisin biscuits I had a s a kid.

    • They are similar to the American raisin biscuit I had (also as a kid), but there is more fruit in a Newton. I love the taste of the figs and even the texture of the tiny seeds. The commercial ones in the US really are quite good and the filling tastes like they are made with dried figs, which are not as dried as dates, for instance – more like raisins. These should be incredible. I think of s’mores more of a kid’s camping treat. These I can eat for breakfast (or camping) :-).

  10. I always loved Fig Newtons! What a great idea to make them yourself and they must taste like a gourmet version of the store-bought cookies.

  11. Wow, these look amazing. Way better than the store-bought ones, which I already love.

  12. Your homade fig newtons looks amazing! Wow, I know my hubby would be all over it. Thanks for sharing this.

  13. Oh my gosh! Fig Newtons were my favorite treat as I was growing up. I loved them with a glass of milk. Thanks for the happy memories!

  14. Wow! Love this idea! Would have never of thought to make these on my own. Thanks for posting the recipe! I am a new follower!


  15. I love fig newtons!! Ohh, I bet they’re even better homemade. 🙂 I am decidedly NOT a dunker. 🙂

  16. Yeah, I bet they do taste better and have a way better texture! What an awesome idea!

  17. i’ve never made these before. they look so good. my husband would really love this. thank you for sharing this.

  18. These look amazing!!! Tasty, warm, soft, sweet… Love it!

  19. Katie…as opposed to how you felt as a child towards fig newtons…I was a big fan of them. Had them in my lunchbox at all times ;o)
    I’ve never made them…and this recipe may just have given me a nudge in the right direction ;o)

    Ciao for now,

  20. Wow. These are very impressive. Gotta love fig newtonw- after all, they aren’t a cookie, they’re cake!

    • Oh Je-en…. these are FRUIT :-).

  21. […] stumbled upon Katie’s blog and her recipe for homemade Fig Newtons. The discovery that she is a Boston blogger sealed the deal for me. I get so excited every time I […]

  22. Very impressive! I can’t wait to try these!

  23. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Aggie's Kitchen, Katie Pelczar. Katie Pelczar said: Fig newtons with calimyrna figs, check it out! http://bit.ly/gKxBRJ RT"@aggieskitchen: Anyone have a homemade fig newton or fig bar recipe?" […]

  24. […] Boyle, but learned how to make fresh fig jam from two fellow bloggers. Thanks to Cozy, Delicious (Homemade Fig Newtons) and Bakin’ and Eggs (Fresh Fig Bars).  I was also hoping to develop a special recipe for my […]

  25. You inspired me to try making fresh fig filling for my fig newtons. I think your cookies have more filling inside them then mine!

  26. […] Boyle, but learned how to make fresh fig jam from two fellow bloggers. Thanks to Cozy, Delicious (Homemade Fig Newtons) and Bakin’ and Eggs (Fresh Fig Bars).  I was also hoping to develop a special recipe for my […]

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