Fig Newton cookies are, in my humble opinion, a very underrated cookie. We didn’t buy them often when I was young, since other cookies were more popular in our house. But when we did get them, it was a happy day! I have always loved the cakey outside and the sweet, slightly crunchy filling. Sometimes these cookies get a funny reputation for being only for older folks. Honestly though, I think they deserve to be up amongst the big favourites. So here’s my version of this excellent treat.
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Mike actually isn’t a fan of these, which means I eat a large amount of them when I make them. That is until I can bring them to work and distribute there. More than anything I think he just doesn’t like the filling, but he can’t tell me why. SO who knows! He’s definitely the odd one out in this case.
This filling is a really easy one to make. It doesn’t involve any soaking or cooking. Just a food processor and the ingredients. I wanted this recipe to be as easy as possible. And since the dough takes a bit of time, I thought the filling should be simple. It’s actually based on a fig spread that I made about a hundred years ago, when I was in Uni. It was the first sort of fancy thing that I made for a “grown up party”. Meant to go with cheeses and meats.
This recipe has slightly more orange in it, and is thinner in consistency so that it’s easily piped. I’ve got walnuts in the filling which help absorb moisture. But for a nut free version, you could omit them and not add any orange juice or water to keep it thick enough to pipe. If you don’t have piping bags, I usually keep a box of these disposable ones in the house. You can also wash and reuse them a good number of times before they’re properly worn out.
The magical cakey texture that’s so awesome in a fig newton is mostly about the storage. The dough itself is pretty straight forward. It is a little bit softer than other rolled doughs. But the real trick to maintaining the soft cakey texture, is storing the cookies into a container while they’re still warm. I line a cookie tin with a tea towel, and use that. The steam let off from the warm cookies is contained within the tin, and keeps the fig newtons soft. The tea towel prevents condensation, so they aren’t actually wet, or soggy when you go to eat them. It’s a simple trick, that makes all the difference.
Homemade Fig Newton Cookies
- Rolling Pin
- Hand Mixer
- Board Scraper
- Food Processor
- 150 g Butter soft
- 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
- 2 Egg Yolks
- 1 Egg
- 2 tsp Orange Zest
- 2 Tbsp Maple Syrup
- 2 1/2 cups Flour
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp Baking Powder
- 2 1/2 cups Dry Figs
- 1 Pear
- 1/2 cup Walnuts Toasted
- 1/2 cup Orange Juice
- 1/2 tsp Orange Zest
- 1/4 tsp Salt
Prepare the Dough
- In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the yolks and egg one at a time, blending well after each addition.
- Add the maple syrup and orange zest, stir to combine.
- Sift in the flour, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder. Mix with a hand mixer slowly to begin with. Then after a few seconds, switch to using your hands to knead the dough into a smooth ball. If it's too sticky, add a bit of flour.
- Shape the dough into a disc, wrap with plastic, and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
Prepare the Filling
- Combine all the filling ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth, and the texture of thick buttercream icing. If the consistency is too thick add water 1 tbsp at a time. If it's too thin, more walnuts or figs can be added to thicken it. Set aside until ready to use.
- Heat the oven to 375F. Remove the chilled dough from the fridge.
- Knead the chilled dough on a lightly floured surface just to get it malleable. Don't over work it.
- Roll out the dough to a 14"x10.5" rectangle. Cut the dough into 3 even strips of 3.5" each.
- Transfer the filling into a piping bag and cut the end of the bag off, making an opening that's about 1/2" wide. Holding the piping bag almost straight down on top of the dough, pipe a strip along the center of each section. The strip should be about an inch wide and have quite a flat top. Fold either side of each strip up and over the filling to seal it in.
- Transfer each tube of filling, seem side down, onto a lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the strips are puffed and just starting to turn golden. Remove from the oven, and cool on the tray for a minute or two. Then using a board scraper, cut the strips into 2 inch chunks. Transfer the chunks, while still warm, into a container lined with a tea towel, or paper towel. Allow to cool in the closed container, to maintain softness and a cakey texture. Store in the container, on the counter for 5-7 days or in the fridge for 2 weeks.