Sunday, November 4, 2012

Homemade Fig Newtons

fresh figs

dried figs

Fig season is here in Israel and I must say that I had never tasted a  fresh fig until recently. They always looked so unappealing to me and though I'm usually open to tasting anything, these just didn't appeal to me.
How wrong I was!!I finally tasted one about two years ago, straight from the tree where they were being picked from. It was like drowning is a sweet, silky bath of deliciousness! How wonderful a taste- now I can't wait for the season to begin each year. I've always liked dried figs, but I must say, there is absolutely no connection ( in my taste buds opinion) between fresh and dried. I like those and I like those. Two different things!
Fig Newtons are one of those childhood memories that one never loses. The texture, the taste, that little crunch of the fig seeds, all melting in your mouth at once. I've always wanted to try a homemade version and finally got around to it yesterday. YUM!! They turned out amazing! Just the taste I remember( and I haven't had a Fig Newton in.... well lots and lots of years).
I actually took two recipes and adapted them to my own. I also did one other thing that was a major accomplishment for me. My daughter does not eat eggs( as of late) and I decided to make the dough using a substitute for eggs.  To my amazement, the dough was easy to work with, rolled out beautifully and baked up just perfect. Certainly can't tell any difference in taste- a success!

The Original Fig Newton

before baking

homemade fig newton

  Homemade Fig Newtons(adapted from various sources)
For the dough:

8 oz.( 280 g.) all purpose flour
4 oz. unsalted butter , room temperature( I used margarine - no dairy!)
1/2 cup sugar
1 oz. honey
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
2 tsps. vanilla
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. orange zest
1 oz. orange juice
3 egg yolks( for each egg, combine 1 tbsp. apple vinegar and 1 tbsp. baking soda- mix together and add when you would the eggs- I reduced it to just one actually and it came out fine)

For the filling:
1 cup or so of finely chopped dried figs( they say Black Mission is the best- I bought them at an open market so I really don't know what kind they were but the filling was delicious!)
3 tbsp. unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 tsp. orange zest
1 1/2 oz. honey
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup or more of orange juice, as needed

Combine the all the ingredients for the filling in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook on very low heat until soft and jam-like- mine took about 1/2 hour. Set aside.

Sift the flour and baking soda together and set aside.

Cream the butter or margarine together with the sugar, honey, vanilla, cinnamon and orange zest until creamy. Scrape the bowl with a spatula and continue mixing. Add egg yolks ( or substitute) one at a time and mix until thoroughly combined.

On low speed, add the sifted flour mix all at once and mix just until incorporated then slowly pour in the orange juice. Continue mixing just until it comes together. The dough will be somewhat wet and soft. Transfer the dough to a large sheet of plastic wrap and flatten into a disc. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

 Make the cookies:
Even after chilling, the dough will be softer than usual. Dust your rolling surface and the dough, generously with flour and roll out to a rectangle approx. 12x14 and 1/2 in. thickness. Divide into 4 equal strips. Spread the filling along the center of each strip. Fold the dough over and pinch edges. Place seam side down on parchment lined baking sheets  and slice each log on the diagonal into about 10 cookies.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a rack.

These cookies get even better over the next day or two. Store in an air-tight container.

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