These fig newtons are the homemade version of the classic cookie with a chewy fig filling that you can buy at the store. Enjoy one as a sweet treat, or eat a few for a quick pre-exercise or post-exercise recovery snack.
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When I think about my childhood, fig newtons definitely come to mind. Back then, they were one of the most popular cookies you could buy, and we always had them in the house. Though I ate them often, I never actually thought about the nutritious fig fruit that made up the center filling. They were just a sweet, chewy cookie that satisfied my sweet tooth. Now that I’m a sports dietitian, I see them as an easy source of carbohydrate for before or after exhaustive activity. One or two newtons is a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth, and they are a perfect cookie to bake for parties or the holidays.
What Are Fig Newtons?
Fig newtons are a baked good and possibly the most famous cookie made by Nabisco. They’ve been around for centuries – even my grandparents ate fig newtons as children. They consist of a flaky cookie wrapped around a chewy, sweet fig filling. And, they are delicious!
If you look this famous cookie in the store today, you won’t see Nabisco referring to them as fig newtons. That’s because they started making the cookie with other fruit filled flavors, and dropped the fig from the title. Nabisco’s famous square cookies are now referred to as “newtons,” and come wrapped around a variety of fruit flavors.
Fig Newtons For Pre-Workout And Post-Exercise Fuel
For years, I’ve had fig newtons on my list of quick and easy pre-workout and post-exercise recovery fuel. That’s because they provide a quick and convenient source of carbohydrates _ the source of energy athletes need before or after strenuous exercise to fuel their activity. They are shelf-stable, so they can be packed and taken with you for a quick after work or school snack, in preparation for your training.
How To Make Homemade Fig Newtons
While I won’t knock the store-bought brand, fig newtons can easily be made at home. The recipe that I’m sharing here makes 48 fig newtons – a perfect amount for a cookie exchange, holiday party or to share with family. Any extras can be frozen, so you have the available whenever you want one. Because this cookie is filled, there are a few steps to make them. I’m going to walk you through the process, one step at a time, so that you end up with fig newtons that look just like the ones you can buy in the store.
Before you begin, make sure you have all of the ingredients on hand. There’s nothing worse than realizing you ran out of something, right in the middle of cooking. If you bake, you likely have the majority of the ingredients you need. Before you start, make sure you have the most important ingredient – the dried black mission figs. In some areas of the country, they can be hard to find at certain times of the year.
STEP #1 – Make The Dough
I suggest making the dough first. That’s because, it needs to chill for an hour before assembling the cookies. You can use that time to make the fig filling.
In a large bowl, combine ¾ cup of white, all-purpose flour, ¾ cup of whole wheat flour, ¼ teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Use a wooden spoon to combine those ingredients, then set aside.
Put the butter and sugar in a large bowl and mix until they are well combined. I use my stand mixer to combine the ingredients, but a hand-held mixer works great, too. Once the butter and sugar are blended, add the vanilla and the egg and continue mixing.
Next, add the dry ingredients. Use your electric mixer to combine the wet and dry ingredients together until they form a dough.
Remove the dough from the bowl and form it into a large ball. Then, put it in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator. The dough needs to chill for at least one hour. If you don’t have a huge chunk of time, you can make it a day in advance. It can remain in the refrigerator for up to a day and still be ok.
STEP #2 – Make The Fig Filling
While the dough is chilling, you can make the fig filling. You’ll need a food processor to puree the figs.
To start, put the figs, water, salt and the honey into a small saucepan. Stir those ingredients together and simmer over low to medium heat for about 10-15 minutes, or until the liquid has evaporated. The figs will begin to get soft and plump and a lot of the liquid will absorb. Be sure to stir the mixture a few times while they are cooking.
Once done, transfer the fig mixture to a food processer and add the remainder of your water and the lemon juice. Process until everything is well combined and the mixture is thick and pasty, but moist.
Once pureed, use a spatula to transfer the fig filling to a large plastic bag. Store in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.
STEP #3 – Roll and Trim The Dough
Now it’s time to make the cookies. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees, then line a large sheet tray with a piece of Parchment paper. Set it aside.
Once the dough has chilled, remove it from the refrigerator. You want the dough to be chilled when you roll it, but if it’s too hard, it may need to sit out a few minutes before rolling.
Clear a large area of your counter top, kitchen table or island where you can roll the dough. Before you begin, dust the area with a generous amount of flour, then place the ball of chilled dough on the prepared surface. Make sure to use enough flour that the dough doesn’t stick to your counter top.
Add flour to a rolling pin and your hands, then roll the dough into a large ~ 9×14” rectangle. Again, make sure that you have enough flour that the dough does not stick to the counter top. You should be able to pick the piece of dough up and flip it over. If it sticks, you’ll have a difficult time lifting the dough when it comes time to roll it over the filling.
The dough should be evenly distributed throughout the entire rectangle. If needed, trim the edges and pack the trimmed dough down into any areas that are too thin. Once the dough is evenly distributed, use a sharp knife, pizza cutter or scraper to cut the dough lengthwise into 4 even pieces (see photo).
After cutting, carefully place a large spatula or a scraper under each and carefully loosen from the counter. You should be able to lift the dough away from the counter top easily, so that it is easier to roll.
STEP #4 – Add The Fig Filling And Roll The Cookies
Remove the fig filling from the refrigerator and massage it in the bag. Try to keep the filling to one corner so that it’s easier to pipe onto the dough. Use kitchen scissors to cut a small (~1/4 – 1/2 inch) piece off of the tip of the plastic bag. Then, carefully squeeze the fig filling down the center of each strip of the dough (see photo).
Once all of the filling has been used, carefully and evenly fold one side of the dough over the fig filling, then roll the dough over to seal the filling inside. You’ll want to make sure that the dough wraps complexly around the filling so that it doesn’t seep out when cooking. Once sealed, use a spatula to lightly flatten the log. Repeat this step for each section of the dough.
STEP #5 – Transfer To Sheet Pan For Baking
Use a sharp knife to cut each log in half. You should now have 8 logs. Place each one seam-side down onto your prepared sheet tray and place in the preheated oven. Bake for ~20 minutes, then turn your oven to broil, and allow the cookies to cook for another ~2 minutes. That will give them a nice brown top. Make sure not to overcook, or your fig newtons will be dry.
STEP #6 – Cut Fig Newtons And Store In The Refrigerator
Once cooked, remove the cookies from the oven and cut each log into 6 even cookies, with each one being ~1 ½ -2 inches. Each log should make 6 cookies, resulting in 48 total cookies.
Line a shallow container with a paper towel, then place your cut cookies on the towel. Place another paper towel over that layer, then add another row of cookies until they are all in the container. Place a paper towel on the top, then seal with a lid or plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator. Cooling and storing your cookies this way helps to maintain their moisture, so they are soft and chewy when you eat them. If you don’t need your newtons right away, you can freeze them in as airtight container for another time.
Serving Size And Nutrition Facts For Homemade Fig Newtons
The recipe I’m sharing makes 48 fig newtons. I determined the nutrition information based on a serving size of two cookies. Each 2- fig newton serving contains 120 calories, 19 grams of carbohydrate, 1 gram of fiber, 11 grams of sugars, 4 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat and 2 grams of protein. That serving also has 55 milligrams of sodium and 20 milligrams of cholesterol.
If you want larger cookies, cut each cooked log into 3 rectangle sized cookies.
If you’re eating these fig newtons as your pre-workout or post-exercise recovery fuel, a good serving amount would be ~3 cookies. That amount provide 57 grams of carbohydrates, while still being low in fat and protein.
Whether you’re looking for a classic cookie to share at a cookie exchange, a sweet treat to enjoy at home, or you want a great pre-exercise or post-exercise recovery snack, I suggest giving these fig newtons a try. If you do, let me know what you think.
Homemade Fig Newtons Recipe
- 3/4 cup all-purpose white flour
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup butter, unsalted
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 egg
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cup water filling
- 9 ounces dried black mission figs filling
- 2 tbsp honey filling
- 2 tsp lemon juice filling
- 1/8 tsp salt filling
- Put the butter and sugar in a large bowl and mix with an electric mixer until combined. Mix in the vanilla and the egg.
- In a separate bowl, combine both types of flour, the salt and the baking soda. Stir with a spoon to blend, then add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl of wet ingredients. Mix until combined.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and form into a large ball. Put the dough in a glass bowl, cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour.
- While the dough is chilling, make the fig filling. Put the figs, 1 cup of water and honey into a small saucepan and simmer over low to medium heat for 10-15 minutes, or until the liquid has evaporated and the figs are soft and plump. Be sure to stir the mixture a few times while they are cooking.
- Transfer the fig mixture to a food processer with ¼ cup of water and the 2 tsp of lemon juice. Process until well combined. The mixture should be thick and pasty, but moist.
- Put the mixture into a large plastic bag and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a large sheet tray with a piece of Parchment paper, then set aside.
- After ~ 1 hour, dust your counter top with a generous amount of flour. Remove the ball of dough from the refrigerator and place the ball the chilled dough on the prepared surface. Add flour to a rolling pin and your hands, then roll the dough into a large ~ 9x14” rectangle. Make sure that you have enough flour that the dough does not stick to the counter top. You should be able to pick the piece of dough up and flip it over. Your dough should be evenly distributed throughout the entire rectangle. If needed, trim the edges and pack down into thinner areas of the dough.
- Once the dough is even, use a sharp knife, pizza cutter or griddle scraper to cut the dough lengthwise into 4 even pieces. Then, place a large spatula or your griddle cleaner under each and carefully loosen from the counter. It is much easier to roll if it is loose.
- Remove your fig filling from the refrigerator. Massage in the bag, making sure to keep all of the mixture to one corner. Use kitchen scissors to cut a small (~1/2 inch) piece off of the tip into the plastic bag. Then, carefully squeeze the fig filling down the center of each strip of the dough. Once all of the filling has been used, carefully and evenly fold one side of the dough over the fig filling, then roll the dough over to seal the filling inside the dough. Once sealed, use a large spatula to lightly flatten the log. Repeat this step for each section of the dough.
- Place each log seam down onto your prepared sheet tray and place in the preheated oven. Bake for ~20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, turn your oven to broil, and allow the cookies to cook for another ~2 minutes. This will give them a nice brown top. Make sure not to overcook, or your fig newtons will be dry.
- Remove from the oven and cut into each log into 1 ½ inch pieces. Line a shallow container with a paper towel, then place your cut cookies on the towel. Place another paper towel over that layer, then add another row of cookies until they are all in the container. Place another paper towel on the top, then seal with a lid or plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator. Allowing the cookies to cool in this way will help to maintain their moisture.
- Store in the refrigerator or freeze them in as airtight container for another time.
- Recipe Makes: 48 cookies
- Serving Size: 2 cookies
- Servings Per recipe: 24
- Nutrition Facts (per 2 cookie serving): 120 calories, 19 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 11 g sugars, 4 g fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 20 mg cholesterol, 1 g fiber, 2 g protein, 55 mg sodium.
- Meal Planning Servings: 1 CHO; 0 PRO; 1 FAT
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If you love figs, you might also like my figs, caramelized onion and ricotta flatbread recipe.