Fig Newtons

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I remember from years back a nice biscuit(cookie) which we called Fig Rolls.  It seems that they are now known as Fig Newtons.  I have found a number of recipes for these, all of them different in some ways.  Some are very basic, just with figs and sugar in the pastry, where others are more elaborate in flavourings.  I decided to try a recipe I found at Ouichefnetwork and it is one reproduced there, from a book by Nick Malgieri.  He calls them Sicilian Fig Rolls apparently, though my research shows that fig rolls really emanate from Asia, and are very popular there.

This version has cinnamon and cloves as spices and rum to add a frisson of naughtiness.  I don’t know how authentic they are, compared to what most people may have tasted, but I can certainly say they do taste delicious.  The pastry is so light and short and the filling so sweet and rich that it is hard not to eat too many, with a nice cup of tea.

Now the recipe shown in the link above had ingredients measured for a US audience, since it talked of cups, and sticks of butter.  I had to convert these to metric measurements for my attempt.  Not a great problem, though the butter was a bit confusing.  The original recipe stated 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter.  There is an inconsistency there, since 12 tablespoons equates to 180 grams whereas 1 1/2 sticks is 170 grams.  I used the latter in my version and it worked fine.

Fig Newtons
for the fig filling:
  • 1 1/2( pounds(680g) soft dried figs
  • 250 ml water
  • 125ml  apricot preserves
  • 62ml dark rum
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
for the cookie dough:
  • 420g all-purpose flour
  • 100g sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 170g cold, unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
  • 3  eggs (UK medium/US large)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Line 2 cookie sheets or jelly roll pans with parchment or foil.
  2. Use kitchen scissors to snip the stems from the figs, and snip each fig into 5 or 6 pieces. 
  3. In a large sauce pan, combine the figs, water, apricot preserves, rum, cinnamon, and cloves. Stir to mix well.
  4. Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce the heat to low and let the filling simmer until thickened, but not extremely thick, about 10 minutes. 
  5. Cool the filling and purée it in a food processor with a metal blade. You can refrigerate both the filling a dough for a couple of days if you’re preparing in advance.
  6. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse several times to mix.
  7. Add the butter and pulse repeatedly until the butter is finely mixed in, but the mixture is still cool and powdery. 
  8. Add the eggs and vanilla and pulse repeatedly until the dough forms a ball.
  9. Invert the bowl onto a floured work surface and carefully remove the blade. Briefly knead the dough 2-3 times to make it smooth.
  10. Divide the dough into 6 pieces and roll each into a rope about 12″ long. 
  11. Place 1 rope on a floured work surface and press and roll it to make a rectangle of dough about 4′ wide and 12″ long.
  12. Pipe or spoon about 1/6 of the filling down the middle of the dough, spreading it about 2″ wide with a small offset spatula. Use a pastry brush to paint the exposed dough with water, then lift up the dough all around to enclose the filling within a tube of dough.
  13. Pinch the seam closed where the 2 edges of the dough meet. 
  14. Turn the filled piece of dough over so that the seam is on the bottom and transfer it to one of the prepared pans. 
  15. Repeat with the remaining dough, placing 3 filled dough cylinders on each pan. Gently flatten the cylinders of dough with the palm of your hand.
  16. When you are ready to bake the cookies, set the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat to 350F/180C/160C Fan
  17. Bake the cookies until the dough is set and golden, 15-20 minutes. About halfway through the baking, place the pan from the lower rack on the upper and vice versa, turning the pans back to front at the same time.  (if using fan assisted oven you shouldn’t need to swap them around).
  18. Cool the cookies on the pans. When they are cool, trim the edges and use a sharp knife to cut them into 2 1/2″ lengths.
  20. Makes about 30 cookies

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