Sugar Dish Me

"if you can read, you can cook" -my momma

Fresh Fig Newtons

with 25 comments

These cookies happened by accident. And YES. Fig Newtons ARE cookies in my world. Not cake. Soft orangey shortbread wrapped around figgy jam… oh goodness Fig Newtons are good. I will readily admit that if I am left unattended with a book and that bright yellow package I am likely to mindlessly eat every single one. Well maybe I would leave a couple. But only so no one would blame me for eating the last cookie.

We stopped by a local produce stand that sits just around the corner from us; I’ve been trying to get there for a while. They sell plants and fresh vegetables and nuts by the pound. There are flowers and wind chimes and handcrafted cedar Adirondack chairs. This place is right up my alley. I smiled sweetly at Chad while I loaded the back seat of our car with hanging baskets, oregano plants, and a six pack of jubilee watermelons that are already bearing tiny little fruits. Chad just humors my slight obsession with buying plantlife every time I see it. I think it’s so I don’t roll my eyes at the amount of money he spends on parts for his remote controlled randomness.

The owners were a friendly couple eager to help us, and we fell into a lengthy conversation about this and that. Chit chat finally landed on the figs they had for sale that no one knew what to do with. The fig tree is yielding at an alarming rate and the fruit is ripening faster than anyone can eat the fresh figs. They told us they thought they would sell more figs if people had ideas about what to do with them. AND THEN they gifted us a whole basket to experiment with!

I returned home happy, HAPPY, HAPPY because not only did I acquire a carload of plants to fuss with, I got myself a kitchen project, too!

I’ll be honest … I’ve never made anything with figs.

I spent a few hours surfing around with my laptop finding gorgeous fig salads with goat cheese and delicate fig tarts. And while those fig recipes are beautiful and definitely have a tasty place in this world, that place IS NOT HERE in the land of fried chicken, pinto beans, and Sundrop.

So I settled on cookies. More specifically, Fig Newtons. From Scratch.

Everyone likes cookies, right?

If you don’t like cookies I’m not sure we can be friends anymore. Sorry bout that.

I sliced up the figs and put them into a heavy-bottomed saucepan with some brown sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla.

After 40 or 50 minutes of simmering and a little bit of stirring/smashing the larger pieces with the back of a fork, my fresh figs turned into a gooey jam that was deliciously sticky and sweet. I had to talk myself out of smearing it on toast.


I stowed the jam away in a jar while I worked on my cookie crust. The jam can be made ahead. It will keep in the fridge for 3-ish days. Less if you make toast.

The dough gets divided; half is pressed into the pan to bake and half is pressed or rolled out and set aside in the freezer while it waits its turn. I pressed mine out in between two generously buttered pieces of foil. Parchment paper would have been better, but you hafta work with what you’ve got. Am I right?

When the baked bottom layer comes out of the oven, spread the fig filling evenly across it. Then lick the spoon.

Go get the top layer of pressed out cookie dough from the freezer. Carefully peel it from between the foil or parchment paper.

As you can see, my dough is very ugly and broke apart in places.

That’s because this is real life.

And it’s cool. Because when it bakes, it all melts together. No one will ever know it wasn’t perfect.

Except in the case of mine because I published my imperfections on the internet.

After baking and cooling completely, I lifted the foil out and sliced my Newtons into little cookie-sized bars. You see? No evidence of the uncooperative cookie dough anywhere.

Of course we promptly returned to the produce stand with a bag full of these cookies and a copy of the recipe. I hope they enjoyed them. We didn’t wanna be creepy and make them try the cookies while we stood there to judge the reaction.

But my verdict is: WIN!!!

I absolutely love them. You will, too.

*** If you don’t have access to fresh figs I have also worked up a recipe using some of these that I dried. I’ll post it soon, but if you have any questions please let me know!!***

Fresh Fig Newtons (adapted from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures HERE and HERE, and then I referenced about 351 more fig newton recipes.)


For the Filling:

  • 16 fresh figs; washed, dried, and quartered
  • zest of 1 lemon (about a tablespoon)
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (I like kosher salt here)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For the Cookie Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter, at room temperature (12 tablespoons)
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla

***Note: This recipe can easily be halved and baked in an 8X8 dish instead of the 9X13 listed here. I had LOTS of figs to use up!***

To Make

In a medium-sized heavy-bottomed saucepan bring the figs, brown sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla to a boil, stirring as needed. Reduce the heat and simmer for 40-50 minutes, occasionally smashing the larger pieces with the back of a fork and stirring. They will cook down and thicken with a jam-like consistency. Remove from the heat and cool completely. This fig filling can be made ahead stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Preheat the oven to 350. Line a 9X13 pan with parchment paper or foil and then butter it. Plenty of butter.

In a medium sized bowl whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar until it’s fluffy. Add the orange zest and eggs. Beat on medium until the dough comes together. Then stir in the vanilla. Gradually incorporate the flour mixture with the mixer on low. The dough will be sticky.

Butter two “pan-sized” pieces of foil or parchment paper, measure 1 1/2 cups of the dough out, and roll or press the dough in between the pieces. This will be your top crust, so get it into a rectangle-ish shape if you can. Put it in the freezer.

Press the remaining dough into the prepared pan and bake for about 20 minutes. It will be pretty and golden brown. Spread  the fig filling across the baked crust and then get the top crust out of the freezer.

Gently peel the foil or paper away from the frozen cookie crust and then place it over the top of the fig filling. Pat any stray crust pieces into place.

Bake for another 20-25 minutes. Watch it closely! The top will turn a nice golden color.

Let the whole thing cool completely in the pan, on a wire rack if you have one. Once cooled, lift the foil out of the pan and slice into squares.




Written by Heather @ Sugar Dish Me

June 19, 2012 at 5:57 pm

25 Responses

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  1. Ooooooooohhhhhhhh. Must.Have.Some. We don’t have figs yet, but I’ll be looking!!!

    • Keep your eyes peeled!! Because I’m not but a couple hours south of you and these people had figs GALORE!!

      • If so, I know how I’ll be spending my weekend! Found a killer fig jam recipe, too! Jam and cookies–that would be a pretty fab weekend. Well, that and the pool 🙂

  2. Yum! I love fig newtons. My mom makes awesome candied figs and strawberry fig preserves.


    June 19, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    • I’m gonna try some strawberry newtons, too, I think. I have an over abundance of strawberries (I got a little crazy with produce stands this weekend) and I can only drink so many smoothies. Strawberry fig preserves sound awesome.

  3. I have never made anything with figs before either. Reading this post makes me want to try! They look sooooo good 🙂

    Baker on the Rise

    June 19, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    • Oh my gosh if you can find fresh figs try this!! I had so much fun playing with this mess of fruit over the weekend. The color and flavors were extra happy. If you can only find dried figs I’ve worked a recipe that rehydrates with apple juice. I would have loved to try some of the fancier recipes I came across, but I didn’t think it would fly at the farmer’s market.

  4. God this looks crazy perfect 😀

    Choc Chip Uru

    Choc Chip Uru

    June 19, 2012 at 11:12 pm

  5. I like Fig Newtons, and you’re right: They’re cookies.



    June 20, 2012 at 8:27 am

    • They ARE cookies! And I love them. I need to figure out how to get these into that slightly curved shape so they nestle into each other when stacked. The shape is very important when you want a STACK of cookies and you have small hands.

  6. I’ve never tried anything with figs before..these look really good!


    June 20, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    • I carted a bunch of these to Chad’s grandparents – they were a hit. His grandpa was hoarding them until I assured him there are more where those came from.

  7. I am making this, I AM MAKING THIS!!!! Am a sucker for anything, err, figgy! I love the date rolls/cookies/biccies /whatever too.

    Shall be coming back to this one Heather, it’s a cracker 🙂

    The Patterned Plate

    June 21, 2012 at 1:14 am

    • Oh I hope you’ll try these Caroline! I bet yours will be gorgeous. The slight orange tinge to the cookie is perfect with the figs. And when they are wrapped tightly and the cookie softens after a day or two they are even better!

  8. Oh my god I wish I never saw this post lol I seriously heart the fig newton…and now I will be dreaming about yours tonight! haha I live vicariously through your food endeavors…you do realize this right? lol I am requesting you to make a yummy cobbler next!! Your choice of flavor but girl I just want to look at those cobblerrific pictures haha


    June 23, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    • I will make you a cobbler!!! All crumbly brown sugared and oatmealed on top with a big scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. There are strawberries, blueberries, and peaches on every little back woods corner here and I can’t stop myself from buying them. I made a strawberry buttermilk cake just because I could. I was gonna make a cobbler, but I ran out of brown sugar. Cobbler is on the way!!!

      • Oh damn that sounds AMAZING!! I’m ready for it…I’ve prepared myself mentally for your cobbler haha My blog fork and spoon are ready lol The topping is the best part….yum!


        June 28, 2012 at 1:05 am

  9. I tried this recipe and my newtons came out looking pretty weird,and when I cut them in squares, the top part crumbled into a million pieces, but that didn’t bother me since they were delicious indeed XD


    July 15, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    • Hmmm… I’m glad you enjoyed them, but I’m not sure what went wrong with the top cookie crust? I’ve made these three times and haven’t had any trouble, except that I’ll admit it is annoying to roll it, freeze it, and then try to peel it from the parchment paper or foil. No problems with the bottom crust? All I can guess is that maybe the top layer wasn’t quite thick enough? So when it baked it got too done? I’d love to help! If you have any questions please let me know! Maybe part of my instructions failed you? I’ll be making these again this week using dried figs and may try to go a different route with the cookie dough… something not as sticky or fussy maybe. Let me know! Thanks!

      Heather @ SugarDish(Me)

      July 15, 2012 at 1:39 pm

  10. […] I known how to cook, I probably could have made better use of those figs. If I had known about THIS recipe from my friend Heather at Sugar Dish Me, I would have totally made that (and I will as soon […]

  11. I see that all of these post are earlier in the year. I am in New Jersey our figs are just coming into season, I suspect because of this crazy weather year our figgy tres decided to join in the crazy’s . This is only my 3rd year with this tree, it is just covered with figgys and the little plant I started off of it is loaded also. I was looking for a jam recipe but these look just wondeful, can’t pass it over but then i just love this. I also just finished making blackberry brandy from backyard plants and some lemoncello from my myers lemon tree.Makes such nice little gifts for xmas. Sounds you like to be in the kitchen doing great things. Have you tried hot pepper jam or tomato jam also great for gift Thank you so much will book mark your site Have fun in all of your undertakings and May God BLess All That You Do, Charlotte Zeuner,Vineland, NJ

    charlotte zeuner

    August 21, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    • Hi, Charlotte! I’ve made these fig newtons several times this summer; even made a big batch to take with us to the beach! They are easy and were a big hit. The orange zest was essential. I made them once without it and while they were still delicious, I definitely missed that orandey flavor. This recipe for figgy jam from Deanna at a year of healthier living looks delicious:
      Every recipe from her I’ve ever tried has been awesome. Thanks for reading!

      Heather @ SugarDish(Me)

      August 22, 2012 at 8:10 am

  12. Half way through the process, I’m thinking, “I’ll get this batch done, but I don’t think I’ll do it again….so much work!” I am now working on another batch. These cookies are amazing! Worth every second it takes to make them.

    Diane Belcher

    September 19, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    • Oh my gosh I totally agree. I think the second batch went faster for me. I made the filling ahead of time that go-round, which helps. Then I made them like 4 more times and gave them as gifts; they are a hit with the grandparents! Glad you’re enjoying these!

      Heather @ SugarDish(Me)

      September 19, 2012 at 6:27 pm

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