Homemade fig newtons.
Words can hardly describe how much I love these. And I can sit here and tell you that they are approximately 1-million times better than the store-bought ones, but you won’t believe me until you try them.
I get it. It’s my job to bake things and tell you how amazing they are. I do my best to convince you to bake what I bake. It probably falls on deaf ears after 718 recipes on this site. But, I will say it again: these cookies are definite must-makes.
A short list of reasons these homemade fig newtons are better than store-bought:
- When you steep dried figs in apple juice (or water + a squeeze of honey) and then puree them, the filling is more flavorful and moist than store-bought fig newtons. It’s not jammy and thick like store-bought, it’s fruity and soft.
- The crust is an identical copy of store-bought, but here’s the thing: after sitting out uncovered for 1 day, the crust develops a thin layer of crispiness on top. And it’s addictive.
- They are made with a small amount of whole wheat flour. In my book, any time whole grains are involved, a dessert is instantly healthy and therefore guilt-free. And yes, you can use this information to justify a homemade fig newton binge or a homemade graham cracker binge alike.
I have to be honest, guys. There is a short list of recipes on this site that I’ve made more than a dozen times. A few are: my 15-minute homemade puff pastry, quick no-yeast cinnamon rolls, ricotta gnocchi, wine slushies, and melting sweet potatoes.
But these homemade fig newtons? I made them the second I arrived in Dallas at my parents house.
I need lots of people to make these and confer with me that they are, in fact, delicious & better than the original. Please hold some back and eat them on day 2 to taste the crisp crust. Just do it for me.
I brought these to our last block party in St. Louis, and I watched the Moms descend on them and offer bites to their kids. But just when I thought the kids loved them, another parent said the magic word and diverted all of the kids to the fire pit: “S’MORES!”
But it’s okay, because I saw the adults clean up the leftovers.
I made this recipe from America’s Test Kitchen’s new cookbook: The Perfect Cookie. I really love this new cookbook of theirs, and I will be baking from it all holiday-season long! America’s Test Kitchen is the place I send people for fail-proof recipes. If you’re not familiar with America’s Test Kitchen (or, ATK as I call them), their recipes are some of the best tested, written, and scientifically-researched recipes out there. And that just makes the baking nerd in me so happy. I own so many of their books, that they have a dedicated shelf in my cookbook library.
Yields 9 small bars
Homemade fig newtons made with dried figs and a whole wheat brown sugar crust. Even better than store-bought!
40 minPrep Time
30 minCook Time
1 hr, 10 Total Time
- 8 ounces dried Turkish or Calimyrna figs, stemmed and quartered
- 2 cups apple juice*
- Pinch salt
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 3/4 cup (3 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (2 /3/4 ounces) whole wheat flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup packed (5 1/4 ounces) light brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- FOR THE FILLING: Simmer the figs, apple juice*, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the figs are very soft and the juice is syrupy, 25 to 30 minutes. There should only be 3-4 tablespoons of liquid remaining in the pan when they're done.
- Let the mixture cool slightly. Puree the figs in a food processor with the lemon juice until the mixture has a thick jam consistency, about 8 seconds.
- FOR THE CRUST: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with a parchment both directions, and then grease the paper.
- Whisk the flours, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl.
- In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 6 minutes.
- Beat in the egg and vanilla until combined.
- Stir in the flour mixture until just incorporated.
- Reserve 3/4 cup of the dough for the topping!
- Sprinkle the remaining dough mixture into the prepared pan and press into an even layer with a greased spatula.
- Bake the crust until just beginning to turn golden, about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, roll the reserved 3/4 cup of dough for the top crust between 2 sheets of greased parchment paper into an 8-inch square; trim the edges of the dough as needed to measure exactly 8 inches. Leaving the dough sandwiched between the parchment, transfer it to a baking sheet and place it in the freezer until needed.
- Spread the fig mixture evenly over the crust. Unwrap the frozen, reserved top crust and lay it over the filling, pressing lightly to adhere. Honestly, this part doesn't have to be perfect; you can see in the photos I had some tears and holes and I just patched it. Once you cut the bars, no one will notice!
- Bake the bars until the top crust is golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.
- Let the fig bars cool completely in the pan, set on a wire rack, about 2 hours. Remove the bars from the pan using the foil, cut into squares, and serve.
*Instead of apple juice, you can use 2 cups of water with 1 tablespoon of honey added.