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Homemade Fig Newtons

Homemade Fig Newtons



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If you’re going to make your own Fig Newtons, you might as well make the jam, too. So there’s a recipe within the recipe for that here. If you’d rather use a store-bought jam, choose one that’s very thick or cook it down; otherwise, it will seep out the cut sides.

Ingredients

Dough

  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¼ cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated orange zest

Filling and Assembly

  • 2 pints black figs, trimmed, quartered
  • All-purpose flour (for dusting)

Recipe Preparation

Dough

  • Whisk all-purpose and whole wheat flours, cardamom (if using), baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and brown sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy, 3–4 minutes. Add yolks and beat until mixture is fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add honey, vanilla, and orange zest and beat until incorporated, about 1 minute. Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add dry ingredients, beating just to blend (dough will be very soft). Divide dough into thirds and wrap each piece tightly in plastic, flattening into a ½" disk. Chill at least 3 hours.

  • Do Ahead: Dough can be made 3 days ahead. Keep chilled.

Filling and Assembly

  • Cook figs, orange juice, honey, and salt in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until figs are very soft and no liquid remains, 25–30 minutes. Using a potato masher or large spoon, smash figs into small pieces and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until mixture is very thick and paste-like, 5–7 minutes. Scrape jam onto a plate and spread into an even layer; chill, uncovered, until cold, about 1 hour.

  • Beat egg and 1 Tbsp. water in a small bowl. Scrape cold jam into a large zip-top bag or disposable pastry bag and cut a ¾" opening at 1 corner (or the tip if using a pastry bag).

  • This dough will sense your fear, so you have to show it who’s boss. It goes from cold and stiff to room temperature, soft, and hard to manage very quickly. If it gets too soft, put it back in the fridge and chill about 10 minutes. If you think you’ve messed up, gather it into a disk, chill, and roll it out again.

  • Roll out 1 disk of dough on a piece of generously floured parchment or waxed paper to a 10"x4½" rectangle about ⅛" thick. Trim edges to make even. With one of the shorter sides facing you, pipe a 1"-thick line of filling slightly off-center lengthwise down dough. Brush long edge of dough closest to filling with egg wash. Using the parchment to help you, fold opposite side of dough up and over jam, aligning all the edges. Very lightly press to seal, then trim sealed edge to square off. Chill 10 minutes.

  • Place a rack in center of oven; preheat to 325°. Using a bench scraper or knife, cut filled dough crosswise into 1" lengths. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and brush with egg wash. Chill while you roll out and fill remaining dough. (If you have any dough scraps and filling left over, repeat process to make a few more cookies.) Place all bars on the same sheet, spacing about ½" apart; they will not spread as they bake. Freeze 10 minutes.

  • Bake bars, rotating sheet halfway through, until golden brown and slightly cracked on top, 14–16 minutes. Let bars cool on sheet 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

  • Do Ahead: Fig Newtons can be made 1 day ahead. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Reviews SectionHelp! I'm trying to make this recipe now! I'm unclear what to do with the egg and water in the fig filling instructions. It says to put egg and water in a bowl, and the paste into a plate then a baggie. When does the egg meet with figs!?! Thanks a bunch!!The jam part was excellent - a keeper. The dough was extremely difficult to work with. (and I am not new to working with finicky doughs). The flavor of the dough after cooking was so-so. Go find another dough recipe.AnonymousLos Altos, Ca 09/15/19This dough was AWFUL to work with. I ended up piping buttons of jam and pinching the dough into a square. Too much butter to flour.these look amazing .Q: Can i make them with dry figs ?dianegajajax ontario05/29/19

Directions

Combine all the dough ingredients mix well. Divide into two balls, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

For the filling, finely chop the raisins in a food processor. Place raisins, water, and sugar in a small pot. Simmer till nearly dry. Stir in cornstarch. Let cool.

Cut each of the two balls of dough in half so that you have four pieces. Roll out each piece thinly (about 1/8-inch thick) on a floured surface and into long, narrow rectangles, each rectangle about 12 inches long by 7 inches wide. Cut this piece in half, length-wise, to make two narrower strips. (Don’t get hung up on the measurements–you can make the cookies any size you want, divide your dough however you want. This is just how I did it. I made mine larger than store-bought Fig Newtons. Mine were more bar-size.)

Spread the filling down the center of each strip. Fold the dough over, crimping to seal. Place rolls seam-side down on a lightly greased baking sheet and press a rolling pin over the strips lightly to flatten the tops. (Be sure to space the strips out a bit–they do spread as they bake.) Bake at 350-degrees for 15 minutes. After taking the cookies out of the oven, while still warm and soft, slice the strips into small bars about 2 inches wide then let the cookies finish cooling on wire racks.

Note: If you run out of filling before you run out of dough, you can either make more filling or use some of any flavor jam for the rest of the filling for variety.

This recipe makes about 6-7 dozen fig bars (depending on size). If you don’t want thousands of Fig Newtons, you can cut the recipe in half. The dough and filling can also be saved in the fridge for up to a week, baking only a few dozen at a time if you prefer. This dough can also be frozen, so you could make up a big batch and take it out as needed.

Submitted by: suzanne-mcminn on July 2, 2010

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How to Make This Recipe

  1. Cream butter, using an electric mixer. Add both sugars and mix until creamy. Add egg, vanilla, and lemon zest. Mix until blended.

2. Add flour, cinnamon, cardamom, and baking powder to the same bowl and mix until the dough comes together.

3. Divide the dough into fourths using a pastry scraper, which happens to be one of my favorite kitchen gadgets! Cover the plate with plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

4. Remove one piece of dough from the fridge at a time. Using a well-floured surface, roll out the dough into a 7" x 10" rectangle, then slice down the middle to make two 3.5" x 10" rectangles.

5. Add approximately three to four tablespoons of preserves down the center of the dough.

6. Using the pastry cutter, carefully lift one side of the dough at a time and fold over the preserves.

7. If you prefer, you can first cut the dough into two 3.5" x 5" pieces, which will make it easier to work with.

8. If you haven't cut the log in two yet, do so now, and flip it over onto a cookie sheet covered with either a silicone mat or parchment paper.

9. Don't overcrowd the cookies. Either work in batches or use more than one tray.

10. Bake in the oven for 15-17 minutes, or until golden brown.

11. Allow to cool before using the pastry cutter to cut each log into four pieces.


Grain-Free Homemade Fig Newton Recipe

Fig Newton Dough Ingredients

Fig Newton Filling Ingredients

  • 8 dried figs
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a food processor, blend the figs, lemon juice, and vanilla until a thick, smooth paste forms.
  3. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients in the dough mixture thoroughly and until it becomes a wet (and sticky) ball of dough.
  4. Divide the dough into four equal parts.
  5. Cut three 18” x 18” sheets of baking paper.
  6. On the first sheet of baking paper, add two of the dough sections spaced equally apart on the sheet.
  7. Using another sheet of baking paper on top, roll out the dough sections to equal sized rectangles (about 4” x 12”) and ¼” thick.
  8. Spread half of the fig filling lengthwise down the middle of one of the sections.
  9. With the help of the baking sheet, carefully lift the other rolled out dough section, place on top of the other dough section with the filling, and peel the baking paper off.
  10. Use your hands to pinch and seal all sides.
  11. Carefully transfer the fig newton “roll” with the baking paper underneath to a baking sheet.
  12. Repeat steps 6 – 11 with the other two dough sections on the other sheet of baking paper.
  13. Bake both fig newton “rolls” for 10 – 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
  14. Remove from the oven and cut into small squares. Enjoy!

Homemade Fig Newtons Recipe

These fig newtons are the homemade version of the classic cookie with a chewy fig filling that you can buy at the store. Enjoy one as a sweet treat, or eat a few for a quick pre-exercise or post-exercise recovery snack.

Disclosure:This post contains some affiliate links to show you the equipment that I used. If you click on the link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission. You can review my full disclosure policy here.

When I think about my childhood, fig newtons definitely come to mind. Back then, they were one of the most popular cookies you could buy, and we always had them in the house. Though I ate them often, I never actually thought about the nutritious fig fruit that made up the center filling. They were just a sweet, chewy cookie that satisfied my sweet tooth. Now that I’m a sports dietitian, I see them as an easy source of carbohydrate for before or after exhaustive activity. One or two newtons is a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth, and they are a perfect cookie to bake for parties or the holidays.

What Are Fig Newtons?

Fig newtons are a baked good and possibly the most famous cookie made by Nabisco. They’ve been around for centuries – even my grandparents ate fig newtons as children. They consist of a flaky cookie wrapped around a chewy, sweet fig filling. And, they are delicious!

If you look this famous cookie in the store today, you won’t see Nabisco referring to them as fig newtons. That’s because they started making the cookie with other fruit filled flavors, and dropped the fig from the title. Nabisco’s famous square cookies are now referred to as “newtons,” and come wrapped around a variety of fruit flavors.

Fig Newtons For Pre-Workout And Post-Exercise Fuel

For years, I’ve had fig newtons on my list of quick and easy pre-workout and post-exercise recovery fuel. That’s because they provide a quick and convenient source of carbohydrates _ the source of energy athletes need before or after strenuous exercise to fuel their activity. They are shelf-stable, so they can be packed and taken with you for a quick after work or school snack, in preparation for your training.

How To Make Homemade Fig Newtons

While I won’t knock the store-bought brand, fig newtons can easily be made at home. The recipe that I’m sharing here makes 48 fig newtons – a perfect amount for a cookie exchange, holiday party or to share with family. Any extras can be frozen, so you have the available whenever you want one. Because this cookie is filled, there are a few steps to make them. I’m going to walk you through the process, one step at a time, so that you end up with fig newtons that look just like the ones you can buy in the store.

Before you begin, make sure you have all of the ingredients on hand. There’s nothing worse than realizing you ran out of something, right in the middle of cooking. If you bake, you likely have the majority of the ingredients you need. Before you start, make sure you have the most important ingredient – the dried black mission figs. In some areas of the country, they can be hard to find at certain times of the year.

STEP #1 – Make The Dough

I suggest making the dough first. That’s because, it needs to chill for an hour before assembling the cookies. You can use that time to make the fig filling.

In a large bowl, combine ¾ cup of white, all-purpose flour, ¾ cup of whole wheat flour, ¼ teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Use a wooden spoon to combine those ingredients, then set aside.

Put the butter and sugar in a large bowl and mix until they are well combined. I use my stand mixer to combine the ingredients, but a hand-held mixer works great, too. Once the butter and sugar are blended, add the vanilla and the egg and continue mixing.

Next, add the dry ingredients. Use your electric mixer to combine the wet and dry ingredients together until they form a dough.

Remove the dough from the bowl and form it into a large ball. Then, put it in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator. The dough needs to chill for at least one hour. If you don’t have a huge chunk of time, you can make it a day in advance. It can remain in the refrigerator for up to a day and still be ok.

STEP #2 – Make The Fig Filling

While the dough is chilling, you can make the fig filling. You’ll need a food processor to puree the figs.

To start, put the figs, water, salt and the honey into a small saucepan. Stir those ingredients together and simmer over low to medium heat for about 10-15 minutes, or until the liquid has evaporated. The figs will begin to get soft and plump and a lot of the liquid will absorb. Be sure to stir the mixture a few times while they are cooking.

Once done, transfer the fig mixture to a food processer and add the remainder of your water and the lemon juice. Process until everything is well combined and the mixture is thick and pasty, but moist.

Once pureed, use a spatula to transfer the fig filling to a large plastic bag. Store in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.

STEP #3 – Roll and Trim The Dough

Now it’s time to make the cookies. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees, then line a large sheet tray with a piece of Parchment paper. Set it aside.

Once the dough has chilled, remove it from the refrigerator. You want the dough to be chilled when you roll it, but if it’s too hard, it may need to sit out a few minutes before rolling.

Clear a large area of your counter top, kitchen table or island where you can roll the dough. Before you begin, dust the area with a generous amount of flour, then place the ball of chilled dough on the prepared surface. Make sure to use enough flour that the dough doesn’t stick to your counter top.

Add flour to a rolling pin and your hands, then roll the dough into a large

9吊” rectangle. Again, make sure that you have enough flour that the dough does not stick to the counter top. You should be able to pick the piece of dough up and flip it over. If it sticks, you’ll have a difficult time lifting the dough when it comes time to roll it over the filling.

The dough should be evenly distributed throughout the entire rectangle. If needed, trim the edges and pack the trimmed dough down into any areas that are too thin. Once the dough is evenly distributed, use a sharp knife, pizza cutter or scraper to cut the dough lengthwise into 4 even pieces (see photo).

After cutting, carefully place a large spatula or a scraper under each and carefully loosen from the counter. You should be able to lift the dough away from the counter top easily, so that it is easier to roll.

STEP #4 – Add The Fig Filling And Roll The Cookies

Remove the fig filling from the refrigerator and massage it in the bag. Try to keep the filling to one corner so that it’s easier to pipe onto the dough. Use kitchen scissors to cut a small (

1/4 – 1/2 inch) piece off of the tip of the plastic bag. Then, carefully squeeze the fig filling down the center of each strip of the dough (see photo).

Once all of the filling has been used, carefully and evenly fold one side of the dough over the fig filling, then roll the dough over to seal the filling inside. You’ll want to make sure that the dough wraps complexly around the filling so that it doesn’t seep out when cooking. Once sealed, use a spatula to lightly flatten the log. Repeat this step for each section of the dough.

STEP #5 – Transfer To Sheet Pan For Baking

Use a sharp knife to cut each log in half. You should now have 8 logs. Place each one seam-side down onto your prepared sheet tray and place in the preheated oven. Bake for

20 minutes, then turn your oven to broil, and allow the cookies to cook for another

2 minutes. That will give them a nice brown top. Make sure not to overcook, or your fig newtons will be dry.

STEP #6 – Cut Fig Newtons And Store In The Refrigerator

Once cooked, remove the cookies from the oven and cut each log into 6 even cookies, with each one being

1 ½ -2 inches. Each log should make 6 cookies, resulting in 48 total cookies.

Line a shallow container with a paper towel, then place your cut cookies on the towel. Place another paper towel over that layer, then add another row of cookies until they are all in the container. Place a paper towel on the top, then seal with a lid or plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator. Cooling and storing your cookies this way helps to maintain their moisture, so they are soft and chewy when you eat them. If you don’t need your newtons right away, you can freeze them in as airtight container for another time.

Serving Size And Nutrition Facts For Homemade Fig Newtons

The recipe I’m sharing makes 48 fig newtons. I determined the nutrition information based on a serving size of two cookies. Each 2- fig newton serving contains 120 calories, 19 grams of carbohydrate, 1 gram of fiber, 11 grams of sugars, 4 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat and 2 grams of protein. That serving also has 55 milligrams of sodium and 20 milligrams of cholesterol.

If you want larger cookies, cut each cooked log into 3 rectangle sized cookies.

If you’re eating these fig newtons as your pre-workout or post-exercise recovery fuel, a good serving amount would be

3 cookies. That amount provide 57 grams of carbohydrates, while still being low in fat and protein.

Whether you’re looking for a classic cookie to share at a cookie exchange, a sweet treat to enjoy at home, or you want a great pre-exercise or post-exercise recovery snack, I suggest giving these fig newtons a try. If you do, let me know what you think.


The Skinny on Homemade Fig Newton Bars

So, I did a little cookie recipe research and decided on the fig bars recipe in The Fannie Farmer Baking Book (affiliate link) .

In the introduction, author, Marion Cunningham says, “These look very much like the fig bars you buy, but they are thicker and taste so much better. They become even softer and chewier a few days after baking.”

I gathered the required ingredients and set out to bake them yesterday afternoon. I opted for a half batch, since having 64 homemade fig bars lying around the house, seemed like a dangerous proposition, for a cookie lover like me.

They were a little tricky to make and I didn’t follow the directions as closely as I might have, so mine didn’t turn out as thick as they should have.

But, oh my gosh, it didn’t matter. These cookies are delicious and so much better than the kind you buy!


Homemade Fig Newtons - Recipes

For the Fig Filling:
2 1/2 cups fresh figs, stemmed and quartered (we used Black Mission Figs for their sweetness)
1 heaping cup dried figs, quartered (we used Calimyrna Figs for their nuttiness to balance the Mission Figs)
1/2 cup water
1 orange, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Cookie Cake Dough:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

First make the fig jam filling. Place figs, water, orange, brown sugar, lemon zest and salt in a large saucepan. Simmer over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes or until the figs have all lost their shape and are soft and jammy. Remove from the heat. Stir in the vanilla. Using a blender or an immersion blender, blitz the sauce until it's in a rough chunk or to suit your taste. Allow the jam to cool for 2 hours or until it's at room temperature. This can be made ahead up to 2 days in advance, covered and refrigerated.

For the dough, using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl a few times to make sure it's all incorporated. Beat in the egg yolk and vanilla on medium speed until combined. In a small bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder and salt. Then, slowly add the flours mixture to the butter-sugar mixture on low speed until it is fully incorporated. Scrape the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is mixed in. Turn the dough (it will look and feel like cookie dough) onto a sheet of plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (or for up to 2 days) until it's firmed up but can still be shaped.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the cooled dough onto a big sheet of parchment paper that has been agressively floured. Roll slash shape the dough into a rectangle roughly 9 inches by 16 inches and about 1/4 inch thickness. Make sure nothing it sticking to the parchment or the rolling pin. Scoop the fig jam along the center of the dough, lengthwise, in a strip about 2 1/2 inches wide. Using the parchment, gently fold one side of the dough over the fig strip and then the other side of the dough over the fig strip (see photos) so they meet in the middle. Pinch the sides together to create a fig log. Then, using the parchment turn the dough onto a fresh pan lined with parchment paper so that the log is seam-side down. Brush away or remove any excess flour on the log. At this point, you can actually store the fig log, tightly wrapped, in the fridge for a day or so or in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.

Bake the fig log for 45-70 minutes (depending on how cold it is, room temperature, fridge or freezer) or until it's golden brown all over. There may be some oozing fig juice. This is fine slash awesome. Yum! Cool the Newton log on a wire rack for 2 hours or until it is entirely at room temperature. Slice into 1-inch thick Newtons and enjoy!

PS- We think it could also be fun to brush a simple egg wash over the uncooked fig newton log and sprinkle with demerara sugar before baking. Just a thought.


Recipe Summary

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • Fig Filling
  • Egg wash made with 1 yolk and a little water

Cream butter and sugar with the paddle attachment of an electric mixer. Add egg, 1 egg yolk, vanilla, and lemon zest mix well. Add flour and salt mix on low speed until dough just comes together. Wrap dough in plastic, and chill until firm, about 1 hour.

Divide dough in half. Roll out one half to fit a 10-by-15-inch baking sheet. Pick up dough by wrapping it around a rolling pin, and unroll it onto baking sheet.

Spread fig filling evenly over pastry. Roll out remaining half of dough, and cover filling. Trim excess pastry to make a perfect rectangle. Chill for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Use a paring knife to score dough lightly into 1-by-3-inch bars. Use a fork to prick holes in each bar. Make an egg wash by combining remaining egg yolk with 1 teaspoon water. Lightly brush bars with egg wash. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Cut into bars, and let cool.


Homemade No Bake Fig Newton Bites

A healthy twist on the classic fig newton cookies, your entire family will love these no-bake fig newton bites that are naturally gluten-free, vegan and paleo-friendly. The perfect on the go snack for an energy boost!

We were never a big dessert family growing up. Perhaps this explains my lack of sweet tooth as an adult! We usually had dried apricots, dates, fresh apples or raisins as “dessert”. We were more likely to end the evening with Sleepy Time Tea than a piece of pie.

One item that would appear in the pantry from time to time was fig newtons. (PS: Did you know they aren’t called fig newtons anymore? They are now called Newtons – fig flavor. Who knew?)

As much as I adore those little cookies and my childhood memories, when I see the 25 ingredients (. ) listed on the back of the package, I remember there are certain aspects of my childhood that I don’t wish to repeat.

The good news is that my no-bake version doesn’t require you to turn on the oven and is jam-packed with sweet fig flavor. My sugar-loving husband and kids made a beeline to these beauties and couldn’t stop eating them which is always a good sign.

As an added bonus, each bite is full of heart-healthy omega 3 fats from the walnuts and flax seed. Plus they each have a good dose of protein to keep blood sugars stabilized. Figs are also an excellent source of fiber, potassium and B vitamins.

What is your favorite childhood cookie? I’d love to hear from you!


BraveTart: How to Make Homemade Fig Newtons

Along with homemade Oreos, DIY Fig Newtons were among the first recipes I ever tackled on Serious Eats. But that was some six years ago, and I've learned a lot about recipe development since then.

Namely, how to make a dough that's a lot easier to handle outside of a professional kitchen. Six years later, I'm back with the recipe for homemade Fig Newtons from my new cookbook, BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts.

Like the original, these homemade Newtons aren't cookies—they're fruit and cake. To capture that unique texture, the batter is made with butter, sugar, orange zest, cinnamon, and honey, creamed until light and fluffy, then blended with a squeeze of orange juice and a few egg yolks. It's a curious combination of ingredients, but one that makes for a cookie that's soft and cakey, with a warm yellow hue.

The yolks help it taste like "yellow cake," while the subtle use of honey, cinnamon, and orange make for a freakishly accurate match in the flavor department (even if those aren't necessarily the flavors that come to mind when thinking about Fig Newtons have faith).

Those ingredients also make the dough very soft, so after adding the flour it should be gathered up in a ball, wrapped in plastic, and refrigerated until firm and cool.

The exact amount of time will vary depending on the thickness of the dough, but expect about an hour. It can also be refrigerated up to a week in advance if you'd like to split the project up into a few bite-sized chunks.

Whether the dough is refrigerated for an hour or a day, that leaves plenty of downtime to make the dried fig filling. That's right, dried figs. Since the bulk of their water content has already been removed, dried figs have a flavor and sweetness that is much more concentrated than fresh figs, yet they taste surprisingly fresh in the filling because they haven't been cooked before. To achieve a similar intensity with fresh figs, you'd need to cook the fruit into a jam with sugar, a process that changes their flavor and consistency and makes the filling more inclined to ooze or bubble out of the cake.

With dried figs, however, you don't need any additional sugar or cooking. Just trim off their stems, cut them in half, and purée with a touch of orange juice and applesauce to give the "jam" a smooth, pipe-able consistency (in the fall, you can replace the applesauce with an equal weight of fresh figs to achieve the same thing, but I wanted my basic recipe to be feasible year-round).

For the most Fig Newton-y flavor, grab dried Mission figs other types of figs won't have the right flavor profile or sweetness. Also make sure the dried Mission figs are flavorful and plump bland or withered up fruit won't do these cookies any favors. Your mileage may vary, but I've been really happy with the packaged figs at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods.

If your dried Mission figs are flavorful but a little too crusty or dry, the consistency of the "jam" may need to be adjusted by processing it with an extra quarter-ounce of water or so. In the end, the mixture should be much thicker than a traditional jam, with an almost dough-like consistency. Like the cookie dough itself, the fig filling can be made and refrigerated several days in advance, then brought back to about 70°F for use.

When you're ready to assemble the cookies, transfer the fig jam to a large pastry bag fitted with a half-inch round tip.

Place the chilled dough on an unfloured surface and knead briefly until it feels cold and firm but pliable, then generously dust the work space and dough with additional flour.

Seriously, don't be shy here. The dough is soft and a little sticky, so using plenty of flour will make the rolling a lot easier. Excess flour can be brushed away in the end, but you undo a sticky mess*.

*With this or any other recipe for a rolled dough, it will always be necessary to take special precautions if it's above 75°F in your kitchen for more information, check out these tips for keeping a dough cool.

Roll the dough as evenly as you can to create a square-ish shape once it's about eight inches across, dust it with a bit more flour then flip it over, dust again, and keep rolling until it's about 15 inches square. I find this easiest to do with a French pin, but as with any pastry project, the most important thing is to work with equipment that feels comfortable in your hands.

It's important to use a ruler for this step. The dough doesn't have to be a truly perfect square, but it does need to be approximately 15 inches square an extra quarter inch one way or the other isn't a big deal, but if the whole thing's a full inch too big or too small, the cookies will turn out too thick or too thin.

Not only will that throw of the ratio of "fruit and cake," but significant deviation from the proper size will change how the cookies bake, potentially leading to cookies that are either doughy or dry. So do take the time to check the dimensions of the dough as you roll, and don't try to wing it! As long as you use a ruler to keep yourself in line, you won't have any trouble.

Once you've established a roughly 15-inch square, slide an offset spatula under the dough to ensure it hasn't stuck somewhere along the way. Dust off the excess flour with a pastry brush, and trim the dough into four three-and-a-quarter-inch strips.

To fill the cookies, position the pastry tip just above the dough, about one-eighth-inch from its surface, then apply firm pressure to begin piping, and move slowly down the length of a prepared strip. The placement and speed will force the filling to spread and flatten if the piping tip is held too high or moved too fast, the filling will come out as a narrow cylinder, instead.

Pipe the filling down the middle of each strip of dough. If needed, you can redistribute some filling if you happen to misjudge the piping speed or the amount of pressure needed to apply it evenly and run out before the end. With damp fingertips, the filling can be molded and portioned with relative ease, then flattened back into shape.

Next, fold the dough over the filling on one side. If needed, dust off any excess flour, then roll the whole thing over like a log, so that the seam runs along the bottom.

Brush off the floury tops, then use your hands to smooth the fig bars into a flat, even shape.

With both hands, carefully transfer the fig bars to a parchment-lined half sheet pan.

When I say parchment, I really mean it the slippery surface of a silicone baking mat will allow the cookies to spread more than they should (as a general rule, I don't recommend baking cookies on silicone, but that's a rant for another day).

Bake the fig bars at 350°F until they're puffed, firm, and very pale gold, without any significant browning around the edges.

Immediately cut the warm bars into 1-inch pieces with a bench knife.

Technically you can cut the bars with whatever you like, but it can be hard to maneuver a chef's knife in a sheet pan, and the bench knife is great for scooping up several homemade Fig Newtons at once.

Transfer the warm cookies to an airtight container with a paper towel placed along the bottom and between each layer.

Once the container's all filled up, top it with another paper towel (to catch condensation from the lid), and close it up. This unusual set-up lets the warm cookies steam themselves to soften and retain moisture, while improving their cakiness as well. Freshly baked, the homemade Fig Newtons may seem a little dry, but after cooling in a steamy environment they taste absolutely perfect.

In the end, these cookies come together with a flavor remarkably like the original, with a freshness that can't be beat. They're tender, soft, and cakey, with a gentle hint of cinnamon and orange to play up the concentrated fruitiness of dried Mission figs.

You can find variations on this recipe (including Apricot Strawberry, Blueberry Lime, Cherry Banana, and even "Pig" Newtons made with bacon) in my cookbook, BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts.