Fig Newtons (about 20)
As a kid, my cousin taught me that Fig Newtons and Pop-Tarts were related just like us. His ideas of Newtonian Figsics had a certain irresistible logic, and I’ve thought of the two as cousins ever since.
This recipe works well with all sorts of dried fruit, so feel free to swap out the figs for apples, pears, peaches, dates or any combination thereof.
For the Dough:
4 ounces all purpose flour (substitute up to half with whole wheat, if you like)
3 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 ounces sugar
1/2 ounce honey or corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
just a pinch of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
2 egg yolks
1/2 ounce orange juice
For the Filling:
6 ounces dried black Mission figs
1 ounces unsweetened applesauce
3/4 ounces honey or corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
Make the Dough and filling
Sift the flour and set aside.
With a hand or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter through orange zest on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy. Scape the bowl down with a rubber spatula half way through and continue mixing. With the mixer still running, add the yolks one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.
With the mixer on lowest speed, add in the sifted flour all at once. Drizzle in the orange juice. Continue mixing until just homogenous. The dough will be very soft and wet. That’s okay.
Transfer the dough to a large sheet of plastic wrap. Fold the wrap over the dough, flatten it into a disc, and refrigerate overnight.
Meanwhile, make the filling. Combine the figs, applesauce, honey or corn syrup and cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until smooth. Scrape the bowl down with a rubber spatula and pulse again to ensure no chunks remain; if any sneak by, they will clog the pastry tip during piping, much to your annoyance. Transfer the fig paste to a pastry bag fitted with a plain basket weave tip.
If you haven’t wrangled a pastry bag into submission before (or if you have and found it frustrating), these 12 tips for using a pastry bag will make the process mess and stress free.
Set aside until needed.
Shaping and Baking the Cookies
Preheat the oven to 325° and have a parchment lined cookie sheet ready.
Even after chilling, the dough will be significantly softer than the typical rolled dough. After all, a Newton isn’t a cookie, it’s fruit and cake! By dusting the rolling surface with plenty of flour and using thoroughly chilled dough, you shouldn’t have a problem.
Dust the rolling surface heavily with sifted flour to prevent sticking, and dust the surface of the dough generously as well. You can brush the excess off later, so don’t worry about overdoing it.
With a pin, roll the dough to 1/4” thickness (check with a ruler or your cookies will be too thick!). Frequently lift and move the dough, redusting if needed, to ensure it does not stick. If any places do stick, slide an offset metal spatula between the dough and the counter to loosen and dust the problem area with more flour.
Use a ruler and a pizza cutter to cut the dough into several 3 1/4” wide strips. It is easiest to handle the pieces if you cut these strips into 6” lengths. Gently dust away excess flour with a dry pastry brush.
Down the center of each dough strip, pipe the fig filling into an 1” wide, 1/4” thick strip. (You may have to make more than one pass if your pastry tip is narrow.)
Fold one side of the dough up and over the fruit filling, then roll the log over to cover the remaining portion of dough. You’ll have a cookie log with smooth dough on top and a seam along the bottom that is double thick where the two strips overlap. This will give the cookies their characteristically bowed shape. Repeat this folding process with remaining cookie bars.
Use a dry pastry brush to dust off excess flour from outside of the cookie bars (you can roll them over to dust off the bottoms too). Transfer the uncut bars to the prepared cookie sheet. Bake for approximately 12 minutes or until the bars have puffed and browned lightly. They will be just slightly firm to the touch; if they feel puffy or moist, continue baking a few minutes more.
As soon as you have removed the cookies from the oven, use a sharp knife to trim each bar into however-many 1” long cookies. While the cookies are still warm, transfer them to a plastic container with a lid or large zip-top bag. If you need to stack the cookies, place a piece of parchment between the layers.
Seal the container or bag tightly. This will trap in heat and moisture and slightly steam the cookies, ensuring they remain soft and cake-like from end to end. Skipping this step will result in Newtons with a slightly drier texture, more like a cookie and less like cake.
The cookies will keep, at room temperature, for about two weeks.
Jan 08, 2012 · 4:53 AM
I started to love fig newtons after I saw Hayley Mills eat them on Parent Trap!
· Jessica · www.jessicasdinnerparty.com
Jan 08, 2012 · 6:46 AM
I’ve seen this recipe floating around and I’ve been wanting to make it. I have two huge bags of dried figs that have Newton written all over them
· Alyssa · momdecuisine.wordpress.com
Jan 08, 2012 · 9:54 AM
Best theory of evolution ever.
· Kiri W. · www.healthyfoodietravels.net
Jan 08, 2012 · 12:28 PM
@Jessica, it’s crazy how many foods I wanted to eat after watching someone else eat them on tv or in a movie…
@Alyssa, clearly, it was meant to be!
@Kiri, haha, right?
Jan 09, 2012 · 7:37 PM
I’m going to make these for my mum!
· Dana · thefunkykitchen.com
Jan 10, 2012 · 12:27 AM
I had no idea you could make these on your own! They look soo good. I am definitely going to try this on soon.
· Russell at Chasing Delicious · chasingdelicious.com/grapefruit-orange-chocolate-chip-cookies/
Jan 10, 2012 · 3:08 PM
@Dana, lucky mom!!
@Russell, Thanks so much, good luck with yours!
Feb 26, 2012 · 3:30 AM
Hi Stella, I’m new to your blog via tweets from Ideas in Food. I really like it here! My fig tree is going off at the moment, any suggestions for how I could make these using my fresh fig supply? Thank you!
· Louisa · cuisinediplomatic.tumblr.com/
Feb 27, 2012 · 10:03 PM
@Louisa, I’m not crazy about making these with fresh figs because you need to cook them down a bit to become thick enough, lest the filling all ooze out the sides. Fresh figs have such an amazingly delightful texture it seems such a shame to waste them on a cooked recipe.
Apr 19, 2012 · 12:28 PM
Slight error in your post.
“The cookies will keep, at room temperature, for about two weeks.”
They’re not cookies…they’re fruit and cake
· Larry Cauldwell · www.scrumptiousdelicacies.com
Apr 19, 2012 · 2:05 PM
@Larry, wow, omg. You win the internet. Quite right, though. “The fruit and cake will keep at room temperature for about two weeks.” Thanks for the good laugh today!
Apr 22, 2012 · 3:36 PM
These look delicious! I’ll be trying them soon.
· Mireya @myhealthyeatinghabits · www.myhealthyeatinghabits.com
Apr 23, 2012 · 6:30 PM
@Mireya, you’ll have to let me know what you think!
Apr 26, 2012 · 10:37 PM
Um, there is a huge gap in the recipe – you obly use four of the eleven ingredients for the dough in the instructions. When are you supposed to add the rest of the ingredients besides flour, butter, orange, and egg?? Did no one else really notice this? Or is it just assumed that the sugar and honey are creamed with the butter?? I’m so lost.
Apr 26, 2012 · 10:40 PM
Hi Melissa! The recipe calls for creaming the butter through the orange zest, which includes all of the ingredients listed in between. Make sense?
May 14, 2012 · 1:54 PM
I’ve made these twice and they are delicious! I’ll never eat a boxed Newton again.
The cake did tend to “melt” or spread way out in the oven. The second time I chilled the formed Newtons before cooking, but this didn’t seem to help. Do you have any suggestions to address the “sprawl”?
May 14, 2012 · 7:08 PM
@Dorsal, hmmm… I wonder if maybe your oven temp is off? You might try an oven thermometer to check how true to temp your oven runs; that could play a role. Otherwise, I don’t see any harm in working a little extra flour into the dough if it’s causing you trouble. Hope that helps!
May 14, 2012 · 8:46 PM
Thank you, Stella. I’ll try working in a little more flour next time. I have an oven thermometer that I always use, and my oven is pretty stable and true. If the temp were off, though, would more heat or less heat be better? I assume more, but I really am not sure about that.
May 15, 2012 · 10:27 AM
@Dorsal, either way can actually be a problem. When the oven’s too cool, it doesn’t have enough to get the dough to puff and bake in a timely manner but it’s hot enough to “melt” the dough. Too much heat, and the dough spreads faster than it can rise. But if you’re oven’s temp is okay, then I guess that’s not it! I’m using an all purpose flour, but it’s from a local mill, so maybe it’s soaking up more of the moisture and resulting in a thicker dough? I’ll try and look into it!
Jun 10, 2012 · 10:20 PM
@Veddrin, ahhhh! What a great tip, thanks for sharing!
Jul 06, 2012 · 11:37 PM
I’m going to try these with my roasted strawberry and fig “jam”. Yummy!
Jul 08, 2012 · 2:40 PM
@Heather, that sounds awesome!! You’ll have to let me know how they turn out!
Jul 15, 2012 · 9:47 PM
I made them today and we all loved them! I had to add more flour, perhaps because it’s raining cats and dogs today I will keep this recipe handy for fig seasons to come!
Jul 16, 2012 · 7:20 PM
@Heather, at work I use a locally milled flour which I’m finding, compared to many commercial brands, seems to be a little thirstier. I may have to start taking that into account in my recipe writing… I’m glad you enjoyed!
Jul 16, 2012 · 10:27 PM
@ChemistWife, I haven’t! I came up with this recipe over the winter when I had nothing hanging around the restaurant but dried fruit. I imagine a slightly different method would be needed for using fresh fruit as it contains exponentially more moisture. Fig preserves would be a great starting place, though….
Aug 14, 2012 · 11:20 PM
Hi Jen! It’s really up to you. The honey gives it a nice earthy flavor, if you like honey then you’ll probably really enjoy it. Using corn syrup gives a more neutral flavor that can let the fruit shine through more clearly. Just depends on what kinda vibe you’re going for. Happy baking!
Aug 21, 2012 · 5:15 PM
Hi Beaner! I think you should be able to swap out the dried figs for dried apple rings without any trouble. I added the orange in order to get a spot-on Newton flavor, but you can feel free to leave it out if you think it will help you match the flavor of the apple bars that you like. Good luck!
Oct 03, 2012 · 8:47 AM
Thanks so much for this recipe! My daughter is allergic to eggs and milk, so commercial fig newtons are not an option – but I’m finding this to be a blessing as I learn to make things from scratch! I used dried cherries and apricots this time (it’s my second try) and they came out great! I had to sub flax seed for egg yolks – I’m sure it changes the cake some, but they’re still moist and delicious. She takes them to preschool regularly for a snack.
Oct 03, 2012 · 9:26 AM
Oh, CK, I’m so thrilled to hear the flax seed eggs worked!! I just bought a big container of flax and am hoping to learn how to use them to veganize some of my recipes for friends. Thanks so much for reporting in on how these turned out, that’s awesome. I’m happy your daughter can have a treat she enjoys!
Dec 21, 2012 · 11:54 PM
Sounded great, followed directions to a “T” and smelled wonderful in the oven, but a huge fail. My oven is right on temperature-wise (went through all that stuff learning to make macarons) and these spread into a big puddle of dough in the oven. Sadly nothing like your picture or the classic “fruit and cake”.
· Michelle Thomas · michellethomas.com
Dec 22, 2012 · 11:59 AM
Hi Michelle, oh no! What a disappointment. I just wanna double check that you did use a scale? I hate asking, but it’s like my version of the computer tech who has to ask if the computer’s plugged in. Second question: did you happen to make a half or double batch, or just a normal batch? Just trying to make sure we’re on the same page so I can start troubleshooting with you!
Dec 23, 2012 · 8:22 PM
Stella – I understand your questions…yes I used a scale. It was a normal batch and I used half all purpose and half whole wheat pastry flour. I have to say that despite their un-newton like appearance, they were/are some of the most delicious cookies I’ve ever made/eaten (and I’ve made – and eaten – a lot of cookies).
· Michelle Thomas · michellethomas.com
Dec 23, 2012 · 9:16 PM
Michelle, gotcha, thanks. I’m a little surprised, because whole wheat flour is very absorbent and usually produces a drier dough, but glad to hear that at least they were tasty! I would say, should you attempt them again, to up the flour until the dough gets a little stiffer than what you experienced this last time. The measurements given are what (approximately) gives me a nice dough, but I often just work in flour until the dough behaves itself.
Feb 04, 2013 · 9:57 AM
Hi Erin! Yeah, these cookies are one of those things that need a bit of subjective analysis. Different flours (and even the same one at different times in the year) will absorb more or less moisture and need to be adjusted from batch to batch, it seems. I'll go back and make a stronger point of that in the recipe, thanks for the feedback. Hope your next batch looks as good as it tastes!
Mar 17, 2013 · 8:55 PM
I am just in my third autumn on a little farm in the Adelaide Hills in Australia. My place used to be owned by an Italian, so we have olives, chestnuts, a vineyard and figs, lots and lots of figs. Being a refugee from the Silicon Valley, I am a bit of a stranger to the fig- my people do not know they way of figs. last year they defeated me and most went to the parrots. But this year, seeing them for $30 a kg at the green grocer, I thought it was my obligation to do something with them. So I made fig jam, and then yesterday while stirring away at huge pot of fig paste, I remembered fig newtons. could I make them myself? And with a little help from google I found you and you say yes! So I changed my fig paste recipe a bit, added some apples to the mix and it is simmering away at the moment. I have the dough dutifully in the fridge. What a joyful blog you have! Fingers crossed the fresh figs do the trick!
Mar 18, 2013 · 9:06 PM
Hi Karah! Oh wow, lucky you!! I’ve never made the Newtons with fresh figs, so my fingers are crossed on your behalf too. I’m not a huge fan of figs myself, or at least fresh ones. But cooked into a jam or paste or baked into a cookie and I’m all about ‘em. The parrots will have to go hungry this year, I guess.
May 11, 2013 · 11:56 AM
Hi Ashley! The flour listed in the recipe is the original amount, which is how I still make them at work. Make the recipe as-written, then add in a little extra flour at the end (maybe just an ounce or two) because you may not need much. The dough should be softer than a typical rolled out dough (like a sugar cookie), which is what makes the Newtons soft and cakey, but not so wet that it’s hard to work with.
Sep 04, 2013 · 9:50 PM
Hi kathy! Ugh, sorry, I’ve got the yield up at the top with the title. I keep meaning to change it because no one ever sees it. I should move it down to the bottom with the recipe itself! Anyhoo, it makes about 20 bars. I’ve never tried a chocolate dough, but I don’t think you’d have any trouble making a substitution. You’ll have to let me know how it turns out for you. Cheers!
Jan 31, 2014 · 9:39 PM
Hi cindy! Wow, that’s crazy. I wouldn’t have thought of using raisins because of their texture, thanks for sharing your method. So glad the recipe turned out to your liking!
Feb 10, 2014 · 9:45 PM
@Damodara, I haven’t tried anything with spelt flour. Generally, I don’t recommend a 1:1 swap with any GF flours, but rather some sort of blend. That helps average out the strengths and weaknesses of each GF flour as they mimic APF. Hope that gives you a little something to work on!
Apr 06, 2014 · 1:14 AM
I know you already answered a little bit about gluten free flours, however I was wondering if something like an almond flour or almond mix would work? My nephews are both gluten intolerant/celiac and allergic to coconut- but these would sure keep me in the ranks of “favorite aunt!”
Apr 07, 2014 · 5:37 PM
Hi elle! Sadly, I have not had any luck adapting this recipe to gluten free. I spent the whole summer trying last year, but the way the dough is folded it really needs the gluten to hold it together. Xanthan gum doesn’t kick in until the dough is baked, so it won’t toughen up the dough enough to fold around the filling. Send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org and I’d be happy to send you the closest blend I came up with. At least that would give you a good place to start if you want to carry on my experiments.
May 27, 2014 · 12:35 PM
Hi Steph! Ah, I’m so glad you like them! I’ve heard that from other people too, apparently I have some special knack at handling this dough. I’m going to have a new recipe for Fig Newtons in my book (out next year) that is a little easier to handle. Hopefully an improvement!
May 27, 2014 · 1:53 PM
Hi again, Stella! A book! How did I not know this? Congrats! By the way, thanks for the idea of using a food processor for the filling: I have a recipe for Christmas cookies with figs, and it tells you to chop them very finely with a knife – a sticky mess, and it takes ages! I’ll definitely give the food processor a try next time.
May 28, 2014 · 2:23 PM
Hi Steph! I try not to talk about the book too much; I figure it would drive everyone batty to spend two years listening to me rave about recipes they can’t try yet. It’s on the secret history of iconic American desserts, from hand made to brand made, so lots of new-and-improved recipes such as Fig Newtons and Oreos, and other desserts (like angel food and fudge) that I’ve never shared before. But the wait is killing me!
Jun 18, 2014 · 10:32 AM
Hi Sara! Honey, definitely. It has the right “musty” flavor, and also helps the Newtons brown to the right color.