Mick Telkamp

Mick Telkamp

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Fig Newtons were among the first commercially produced cookies in the U.S., but can be made at home using fresh or stored ingredients

Introduced by the Kennedy Biscuit Company in 1891, Fig Newtons were named not for physicist Isaac Newton, but rather the town of Newton, Massachusetts, near the factory that first produced the tasty cookie commercially. Kennedy Biscuit eventually merged with several other bakeries to form the National Biscuit Company. Now known as Nabisco, the cookie giant continues to produce the fig cookie with the cakey biscuit crust. Annual sales top a billion Newtons a year.


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With fig season underway, there’s no better time to try making this lunchbox favorite at home. Fig Newtons can be made using fresh, dried or preserved figs. We tried all three and, while I’d like to say fresh figs came out on top, the mellow sweetness of the figs we canned ourselves may have edged them out. The dried figs also worked very well and will likely be the method used most, although it was a little more difficult to get the consistency right. Whatever your figs, this homemade spin on the classic Newton is sure to please.

Ready to get figgy with it? Here’s how.

Homemade Fig Newtons

  • 1 pint fresh or preserved figs or 12 ounces dried figs
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice

If you are using:

Fresh figs: Remove stems and boil figs with a cinnamon stick and 2 cups of sugar in 1 cup of water for 45 minutes. Drain and cool.

Dried figs: In a bowl, pour boiling water over figs (stems removed)  and let rest 10 minutes. Drain all but 2 tablespoons water and stir in 2 tablespoons corn syrup + ¼ teaspoon cinnamon.

Preserved figs: Drain syrup. (Find a recipe for preserved figs here.)

Then:

Puree figs in food processor until a thick paste forms (if too thick or thin to spread evenly, add a little water or flour until spreadable consistency is reached).

Combine flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar in a mixing bowl.

Add egg, vanilla, orange juice and combined dry ingredients to bowl and mix until dough forms.

Roll dough out on a floured surface into a 8”x14” rectangle about ¼” thick.

Cut rectangle in half lengthwise.

Spread fig paste onto half of each rectangle, lengthwise.

Fold dough in half lengthwise to cover fig paste and pinch edges to seal.

Cut each log in half and transfer onto a greased baking sheet.

Bake 25 minutes at 350 degrees until crust begins to brown.

Slice into cookie-sized segments and cool.

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