Monday, September 5, 2011

Fig Newtons

Sometimes I see something on sale at the store, I buy it, and I pray for inspiration to come later. This week it was a deal on fresh figs. I've made fig preserves before, but I was looking for something new. AHA! That's where nostalgia came in.

When I was growing up, we always had a cookie jar full of fig bars. And, it was always a treat to have the strawberry or blueberry fig bars! My Grandma also made them: an Italian version with a white glaze over the top. Since they were homemade, they were very "rustic" looking and the fig was a little more pulpy. Still fig bars - but so much different in texture and taste than the store-bought kind.

These fig bars were a combination of the two fig bars from my past. These fig bars were VERY rustic looking. By rustic, I really mean....messy. I followed the recipe proportions to the letter, but I definitely put too much filling into each roll. And, I definitely neglected the all-important detail of placing the fig bars "seam side down" on the cookie sheet. If I had bothered to read that last direction, I think the fig bars would have turned out more atheistically pleasing. They tasted great, though! I'm looking forward to making them again!

Fig Newtons
from Beantown Bakers

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon or orange zest
1 large egg white
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 lbs fresh figs
1/4 cup sugar
Juice of half a lemon

Make the dough
Cream together the butter, sugar and zest in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, for 2-3 minutes on medium speed. Scrape down the bowl and paddle. 

Add the egg white and vanilla and beat in. Scrape down the bowl and paddle again. 

Add the flour and beat on low speed until the dough comes together. 

Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

Make the filling
Cut the figs in half and scoop out the seeds and pulp with a spoon. In a medium sauce pan, combine figs, sugar, and lemon juice. Mash mixture a few times with a potato masher or fork. 

Cook mixture over medium-high heat until bubbling and sugar has dissolved; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes, until it has reduced by about one-third and is beginning to gel. Set aside until completely cool.

Assemble the Fig Newtons
Place racks in middle and lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

On a floured surface, roll the dough out to a 12 x 16 rectangle. Cut into 4 equal strips, each 12 x 4 inches. Spoon a line of filling down the center of each strip. Fold the dough over the filling and pinch the edges together. Using a serrated knife, slice each log on the diagonal into 10 cookies. Place each cookie on the parchment-lined baking sheets, seam side down. 

Bake, rotating the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through, for 12-15 minutes, until golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a rack.

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