Hello and happy Thursday! I hope your Friday-eve is going well, the week has gone by quickly for me, I spent Monday and Tuesday at work and the rest of this week I’ve been in a course taught by UC Berkeley Business school professionals and instructors about innovation and change in various organizations and businesses. This course is mostly for my current job in the US Air Force, but I’ve found over the past couple of days that the concepts really do apply across the board, even to this little blog of mine. I hope to take some of the concepts that I’ve learned from the course and apply it, in a business sense, to the platform. Always looking to improve this space and create better content!
But! Anyway, back to why you actually read this blog…today! I have a great little treat for you – Homemade Fig Newtons! Mmhmm! Now, I know you’re thinking yuck! Health food….I come here for copious amounts of sugar and fat! Well, for today we’re going a little healthy, but these fig newtons are still super flavorful and sweet and they won’t disappoint! You’ll feel a little better for having eaten one. 😉
So, just in case you didn’t know, Figs are coming in season so if you can find fresh figs at the grocery store, stock up and make yourself some fig jam! Here’s a great recipe from Bon Appetit for fig-jam, or you can of course buy store-bought fig-jam, this one (pictured below) is one of my favorites. Regardless of where you get your fig jam, you’ll still want to do a little doctoring to it before making these cookies.
Now, I have a neighbor that has a fig tree, so they ended up bringing over some fresh figs and some homemade jam – which was wonderful! I mean, less work for me right? So, I ended up adding a bit of cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom to the jam as well as a ¼ cup of grapefruit juice mixed with 2 tbsp of cornstarch in order to thicken the jam up a bit. After I had cooked down the jam a bit, I let it cool and stored it over-night in the fridge to let it continue to thicken.
Oh, yea…did I mention that these cookies take about a day to make? While super simple, the longer you let both the cookie dough and jam chill in the fridge, you will reap the benefits in both flavor and texture in the cookies.
So lets talk about this dough. By combining both all purpose and wheat flour, you get a smooth and pliable dough that will hold its shape based on the gluten development from the wheat flour. Also, the addition of honey, cinnamon and vanilla in the dough makes it slightly sweet, but allows the jam filling to really shine through. Above all, if you can, allow 8 hours or up to overnight for this dough to rest in the fridge for this development of the flavors and the gluten to happen!
And then it’s time to assemble! I highly recommend that you roll out your dough on a floured piece of parchment paper. Not only does this allow for a non-stick surface, but it allows you to use the edges of the parchment to help you “roll” the dough over the filling when forming the cookies.
Another note! Place the cookies in the freezer for a few minutes prior to cutting to help the dough firm up after handling, also, once you do cut the cookies into individual bites, freeze again for up to 10 minutes so the dough can re-set prior to baking.
And that’s just about it! I know it sounds like a complicated process, but really it’s just a lot of down-time and assembly steps, but it’s worth the work, I promise. 😊
See you tomorrow for another round of friyay faves! Happy Baking!
Homemade Fig Newtons
FOR THE DOUGH:
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- ½ cup whole wheat flour
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ¾ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- 1 stick of unsalted butter at room temperature
- ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1½ tbsp honey or dark corn syrup
- ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp orange or lemon zest
- 1 large whole egg + 1 large egg yolk
FOR THE FILLING (if making your Own):
- 12 oz. dried black mission figs
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup grapefruit juice
- 2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
- 1½ tbsp honey
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp Caradmom
- 1/4 tsp Ginger ground
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- ½ tsp salt
MAKE THE DOUGH:
In a medium size bowl, add the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt and cinnamon and stir with a wire whisk to combine.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the butter, brown sugar, honey (or dark corn syrup), vanilla and orange/lemon zest and beat on medium high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy - 2-3 minutes.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the whole egg. Beat on medium high speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg yolk and beat on medium high speed for another minute.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl again, add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed just until combined. Lay a large sheet of plastic wrap on the counter and dump the dough into the center. Dampen your hands with water to prevent sticking and press the dough into an oval that's about 8 inches long. Fold the plastic wrap over the dough to cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or overnight.
MAKE THE FILLING:
If the figs have stems, remove them. Add the figs, grapefruit juice and water to a saucepan over medium heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let sit until cooled to room temperature. (You can also allow the figs to sit overnight in the cooking liquid, covered in the refrigerator.)
Drain the figs from their liquid and dump into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade. Add the rest of the filling ingredients and pulse until smooth.
BAKE THE FIG COOKIES:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place a piece of parchment on your work surface and dust with a liberal amount of flour. Roll the dough into a rectangle that's about 11 inches long by 13 inches wide, and ¼ inch thick. Trim the edges so that you have a clean rectangle shape. Then, use a ruler to cut strips that are 3½ inches wide.
Add the fig filling to a pastry bag or a ziplock bag, and cut off about ½ inch of the tip. Pipe the fig filling down the center of each strip of dough. The filling will be about 1 inch wide and ½ inch thick.
Fold one of the long sides of dough up and over the filling, brush with egg wash, then fold the other long side of dough up and over the filling, making sure to overlap the edges about ¼ of an inch. Press the long seam gently with your fingers to seal and gently lift each log onto a parchment covered baking sheet. Press the ends to seal those too.
Chill or freeze for at least 10 minutes, to firm the dough. Use a sharp knife to trim each bar into several 1" long cookies. Chill again, for 10 minutes.
Turn cookies over, seam-side down, and brush with egg wash.
Bake for 13-15 minutes, until the dough is set and slightly firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet for 1 minute. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely.
Store Homemade Fig Newtons in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.