Welcome to Couleur Nature’s Tasty Tuesday, a weekly feature on a French recipe—with tantalizing pictures to accompany!
I remember some summers at my grandmother’s house, she would have figs lying out on tables to dry. It was quite the mouthwatering sight: rows and rows of plump figs sitting out in the hot summer sun for days at a time.
Recently I’ve had the luxury of a enjoying a fresh fig, and now I can’t understand why on earth she would have wanted to dry them before eating them–they’re absolutely heavenly when fresh!
Sadly, fig season has been dwindling to an end, and while dried figs may never compare to fresh ones, they’re still quite the treat. Which is why today, I’d like to share this recipe for homemade Fig Newtons (if you’ve never tried them or have no idea what they are, you won’t need to find out after this recipe!).
It was written by Elizabeth at the blog Oh Nuts!, and I must say it’s quite an ingenious (and delicious!) way to enjoy dried figs. I love this recipe because the dough has a hint of orangey zest to it.
(Admittedly, it’s not very French, but I’m saving those recipes for next summer, when fig season is in full swing and we get to enjoy them at the peak of their flavor!)
Homemade Fig Newtons
Adapted from Elizabeth at Oh Nuts!
* Both parts of this recipe require extensive down-time, so make sure you plan ahead and leave enough time for cooking and chilling.
yield: about 30 cookies
For the filling:
1 generous cup Turkish or Calimyrna dried figs
1-1/2 cups water
1 cup apple juice
1/4 cup sugar
zest of 1/2 grated orange
For the cookie dough:
4 oz (8 tbsp) softened butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
zest of 1/2 grated orange
1 egg white, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1. Combine the butter and 1/2 cup of sugar in the bowl of stand mixer (or use a large bowl and a hand mixer.) Beat them together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
2. Add the egg white, the grated zest of half an orange, and the vanilla extract, and beat everything together until you have a silky smooth mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the beaters. Add the flour, and mix on low until everything is mixed together and there are no streaks of flour remaining. When finished, the dough should be soft, similar to a sugar cookie dough. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate it until it’s firm enough to roll, for about two hours.
3. While you wait for the dough to chill, chop up the dried figs into small pieces.
Combine the chopped figs, water, apple juice, and 1/4 cup of sugar in a medium saucepan, and bring it to a boil over medium heat. After it starts boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer it until the figs are soft and practically disintegrating, anywhere from 90 minutes to 2 hours. Stir the figs occasionally so they don’t scorch on the bottom of the pan.
6. When the figs are done, most of the water will have cooked off and they will have the consistency of a thick, sticky jam. Cool the fig mixture at room temperature or in the microwave.
7. Transfer the fig mixture to a food processor or blender, and add the grated zest of half an orange. Blend until you have a smooth paste.
8. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Take your chilled dough from the refrigerator and dust a work surface and rolling pin with flour. The dough will get sticky as it warms up, so it’s best to do this quickly and avoid adding any more flour than necessary. Roll the dough out into a very thin rectangle, about 16 inches long by 12 inches high. The thickness of the dough should be a little less than 1/4 of an inch.
9. Cut the dough into 4 even strips, so that you end up with 4 long thin rectangles 4 inches across and 12 inches high.
10. Take about a quarter of the fig mixture and spread it along the center of one of the strips of dough. Gently fold one side over the fig mixture, then fold the second side over the first, so that you are left with a long tube of dough enclosing the fig filling. Repeat until all four dough strips have been filled and folded.
11. Gently transfer the strips of dough to a parchment-covered baking sheet. I found it was easiest to do this by sliding them onto a long metal spatula, but even a large chef’s knife might work for his purpose. Cut the cookies into small squares, about 1 inch long.
Bake the cookies in the 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes, until they’re puffed and golden brown around the edges.
According to Elizabeth, “these cookies are even better the next day! Fresh from the oven, the cookie layer is a little crispy, more like a shortbread. But after they’ve had time to mellow, it softens, and the cookies and figs melt into each other a little more, and they are deee-licious.”
If you’re the adventurous type, try adding some nuts or chopped apple in with the fig–whatever suits your fancy (I myself might try it with some pecans next time)!
Let me know how this recipe turns out for you!
The images in this recipe are courtesy of Oh Nuts!