Even though I have not had a Fig Newton in approximately 16+ years, I distinctly remember loving them growing up. I remember my Aunt Kathy and family were visiting us from Michigan around the 4th of July and her daughter, my cousin Jenni brought Fig Newtons to snack on when we went to watch the fireworks in Arlington Heights. I have a tendency to remember things completely wrong, so honestly I don’t know if that is remotely close to how I was introduced to Fig Newtons, but I’m sticking to it regardless.
I really wanted to make homemade Fig Newtons. Maybe I was being nostalgic…or more likely I was just in the mood for cookies. I looked up several different recipes on the internet and went with this one even though I did not read the directions from start to finish. My bad! So when we were about halfway through the recipe we realized it was more involved than we wanted and Kara and I quickly discussed ways we could shorten the recipe but still get a finished product that was Fig Newton-esque.
Even though we did not end up with anything that resembled any Fig Newtons I’ve ever seen, the taste I remembered was right on and it still brought back memories of one of my favorite cookies growing up. Our adaptation to a cake saved us a lot of time and it brought homemade Fig Newtons to us faster. Win-Win.
For the Dough:
1 cup all purpose flour, sifted
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons honey
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
zest of 1 orange
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons orange juice
For the Fig Filling:
6 figs, cut into quarters
4 tablespoons applesauce
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Start by making the dough. Use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment to cream together the butter, sugar, honey, baking soda, vanilla, cinnamon, and orange zest on medium speed. Scrape the bowl down as needed with a rubber spatula and mix until light and fluffy. With the mixer on, add the egg yolks one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Turn the mixer on low and add the flour all at once. Drizzle in the orange juice last. Continue mixing until just combined.
At this point the dough will be soft and wet. Cut a large piece of plastic wrap and transfer the dough from the bowl to the center of the plastic. Fold the plastic over the dough and flatten into a disc. Refrigerate for four hours.
Make the fig filling next. Using a food processor, pulse together the figs, applesauce, honey, sugar and cinnamon until smooth. Scrape the bowl down with a rubber spatula and pulse again to make sure the filling is completely smooth.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9-inch pie pan. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and press into the bottom and sides of the pan. Par-bake for 8 minutes. Remove pan from the oven and spread the fig filling on top. Continue baking for 10-12 more minutes, until filling is set and crust is golden brown.
Cool completely before dusting with confectioners’ sugar and cutting into triangles and serving.
Source: adapted from Serious Eats