I grew up seeing fig newtons in our house because my mom love it. If there is one cookie or bar that she would buy, this is the one. None of us bake at home back then, so we only get to try the store-bought version. It never crossed my mind how it was made because I was not interested into baking, so I just ate it and enjoyed it.
Now that I am obsessed with baking (almost everyday), the question of how this was made crossed my mind. The timing could not be more perfect, I got a box of fig newtons lying in my fridge. I had been wondering for days now thinking what to use it for. I am not a fan of dried figs so eating it as is it out of the question. I thought of making it into Oats and Figs Bar but then I thought of Fig Newtons instead, they are similar in some ways and besides it’s my mom’s favorite cookie and it would be nice if I could make a homemade version of it. I am hoping that someday I will be able to make it for her too.
I found a simple recipe and I decided to give it a go. I cannot remember the last time I ate fig newtons but I can still recall how it tasted. Maybe I’m being biased here because I made this homemade version, but this really taste good, well maybe not 100% the same with the original but it was good. I wish I could have my mom taste this and get her feedback, who else is much better to judge it than her. There’s No one better to asked feedback than my mom because she’s obsessed with it.
What is Fig Newtons?
Fig Newtons is basically a fig roll or bar or cookie, I cannot make up my mind what to call it. It’s a sweet pastry dough more like a softer shortbread in some way and is filled with purée figs. It has a soft and chewy texture, a soft sweet center and a buttery cookie outer layer. The dried figs were soaked and boiled in apple juice or any fruit flavor juice then puréed to have a smooth texture that is good for filling. The soaking and cooking of figs enhances the flavor and gave it an additional flavor on top of it’s natural sweetness. I also did this same method when I made my Oats and Dates Bars and it always came out nice. If you don’t have apple juice, water will work too and a few drops of vanilla extract or honey.
This cookie bar is easy and simple to make, a nice treat I bring at gathering or even as an edible DIY gifts. Let me show you how I did it. Let’s get started!
- 4 ounces dried Turkish or Calimyrna figs, stemmed and quartered
- 3/4 cup apple juice or sparkling fruit flavor juice
- Pinch salt
- 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
For the crust:
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 large egg – room temperature
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Instead of sparking juice or apple juice, you can also use water with 1/2 tsp vanilla extract.
- Make the Fig Filling: Put juice and figs in a medium sauce pan and simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the figs are very soft and the juice is reduced.
- Let the mixture cool slightly. Puree the figs in a food processor or blender until the mixture has a thick jam consistency.
- Pre-heat Oven: Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350F degrees. Line an 8-inch square baking pan or 9-inch loaf pan with a parchment both directions.
- Mix Dry Ingredients: Mix the flours, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl.
- Mix Wet Ingredients: In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 6 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract until combined.
- Mix Wet and Dry Ingredients: Add in the dry ingredients to wet ingredients mixture and mix u
- ntil just incorporated.
- Divide the dough into 2 equal portions. The dough is manageable to handle, slightly sticky but workable without having to freeze it before arranging the first layer in the pan. Cover 1/2 of the dough remaining with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator fro 15 minutes while you work on arranging the base crust layer.
- Press 1/2 of the dough mixture into the prepared pan. It helps if you sprinkle some flour on your hands while you press it or you can use a greased spoon or spatula to level the crust.
- Cover with plastic wrap, make sure the plastic wrap touches the top of the dough. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes. If you plan to bake it in a later time, keep it in the refrigerator instead.
- Blind-bake (pre-bake) the crust until just beginning to turn golden, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, take out the other 1/2 of the dough mixture from the fridge. Roll the dough in between plastic wrap or parchment paper until it comes close to the size of the pan. Return to freezer for another 15 minutes.
- Spread the fig mixture evenly over the pre-baked crust. Cover the top with remaining 1/2 of the dough mixture.
- Lift up the parchment paper to remove the first laye from the pan and lay it down in your work area. Cover top with the 1/2 of the rolled dough. Press, stretch and trim as needed to cover the entire top.
- Bake the bar on a pre-heated 350F oven until the top crust is golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. The crust will start to puff-up.
- Let the fig bars cool completely in the pan, set on a wire rack, about 2 hours. Remove the bars from the pan using the foil, cut into squares, and serve.
Makes 8-12 bars
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Recipe adapted from: Dessert For Two with my minor modifications