A couple of years ago, I was given a large number of fresh figs by a co-worker. Every week that summer he would come in with another paper box top filled with plump, juicy greenish purple figs. I used most of them that summer, making jars and jars of fig preserves. Toward the end of fig-season, though, I got tired of heating up my kitchen for the canning process, so the last couple of gallon bags I stuck in the deep-freezer. And promptly forgot about them.
Now I’m in the process of purging my home of any excess stuff for the purposes of moving. This includes extraneous food-stuffs. I hate for food to go to waste, though, so I needed to find something to do with those lovely frozen figs (which were still perfectly good, by the way).
I decided I would dry some of them, for the purposes of making a fig paste. I took half of them and placed them in an even layer on a half-sheet pan lined with foil. I put this in a preheated 230F oven and let them sit for 5 or 6 hours.
Once they had reduced their size by 1/3-1/2, I removed them from the oven and pureed them in the food processor. In retrospect, I could have achieved the same result by pureeing them on the front end and boiling the puree on the stovetop to reduce it. This would have been a much faster and more efficient manner in which to produce the fig paste. Oh, well – hindsight.
What was I going to do with all this lovely fig paste, though? Why, make fig rolls of course(very similar to Fig Newtons, just not trademarked by Nabisco)!
Fig roll filling ingredients:
1 1/2 cups fig paste
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
Fig roll pastry ingredients:
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 egg white
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
For the filling, blend all ingredients together and set aside.
In the bowl of a food processor, place butter, sugar and orange zest. Blend on high for 5-10 seconds. Add egg white and vanilla extract and blend to combine. Add flour and blend on high until dough forms a ball. Remove from food processor, wrap in cling-film, flatten into a disc and chill.
Once dough has chilled, place it on a well-floured surface and roll it out to a 12×16 rectangle and trim rough edges.
NOTE: I found this dough to be very tender and difficult to work with. It is an adaptation of this recipe from The Boastful Baker, but I subbed whole-wheat flour for the all-purpose she suggests. Mine tore very easily but I was able to make it work by handling it very gently.
Preheat your oven to 350F.
Cut the larger rectangle into 4 smaller 12×4 inch rectangles. Spoon the reserved filling lengthwise down the center of each rectangle and fold the sides up and pinch to seal. Using a serrated knife, gently slice the the sealed pastry into 10-12 small 1 1/2-inch wide cookies. Place these seam-side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone baking liner. Bake them, one pan at the time, for 15-20 minutes in the center of your preheated oven. Turn the pan once halfway through the baking process. Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool.
They are remarkably similar to the trademarked version, only fresher and with a sandier texture in the cookie (which I like). They are also not nearly as sweet. I think if I can perfect the dough, these will become a part of my regular repertoire.
Unlike so many people who’ve made these at home and written about it, I grew up loving Fig Newtons, but have been reluctant to buy them now that I’ve cut back on the processed foods that I bring into my home. Knowing that I can replicate a much-loved childhood favorite using fresh and healthy ingredients is extremely satisfying.