Behold! The Sustainable Cookie!

Home Made Fig Bars

I have finally made the cookie I've been planning for years. Behold! The sustainable fig bar! I was blowing big dough on packages of this treat from a classic American cookie company and thoroughly enjoying them. I just love Fig Newtons and will defend them to my grave from all the fig haters out there in the world. I have also had a few versions from various fancy bakeries that made their own. I knew mine would not taste the same as the commercial classic but with multiple pounds of figs in the freezer needing some purpose, I gave it a try.

As usual these days, EcoMommyO needed several days to work through the recipe. We had received these figs from our CSA, Beneficial Farms and their connection to interesting fruit, Shiraz Vineyards in southern New Mexico. I have to admit they did look a little queer. We piled up several packages of the green orbs in the freezer and the thought machine kicked into gear. After the frozen bricks threatened once again to break our toes as they came sliding out of the freezer, something had to be done. I had just a little over three pounds of figs to work with. Fresh figs are still a bit of a specialty item. Most recipes I looked at that involved figs started with dried ones that got reconstituted in a flavorful liquid (wine, orange juice, etc.) I knew I needed to cook them down since the freezing process made them a little too moist to use as sliced up fresh fruit. So, the figs got thawed and then into a big pot. I mashed them up as they cooked and watched them become a thick brown potage. They smelled very vegetal and I managed to burn the bottom. Watch them carefully while cooking! So I had cooked fig puree, now what?

Well, that what was putting them into the refrigerator and trying to think of something good. There they sat, filling me with guilt every time I opened the door. I had to do something with them. I practically wrecked a pan cooking them and, as everyone knows, I hate, hate, hate wasting food. So, my latest issue of Readymade shows up and they have a fig cookie taste-off with their own homemade as a contender. Of course the homemade won and that made the decision. I printed out their recipe and it looked achievable. Again, they did use dried figs but I already had two pounds of proto-fig jam. So, back into a pot the cooked figs went and I added the zest and juice of two organic Meyer lemons sent from my Bay Area source, one cup of sugar, and a good sized blob of our backyard honey. The figs looked moist enough that I did not add any more water. I let it all cook for half an hour and stirred and watched it like a hawk to prevent a repeat burning.

I made the dough while the figs cooked and as long as the butter is soft, it comes together quickly. It called for whole wheat flour so I scooped out some from our bag of local flour, again courtesy of Beneficial Farms’ connections. I advise doing the final mixing with your hands; the dough is stiff and is better worked with hands than a spoon. I shaped the dough and put it in the refrigerator to chill while the figs cooled. I’m sure something baby related happened in that hour but once everyone was happy, I came back and started rolling out dough. It rolled remarkably well which filled me with joy considering this is one of the more frustrating parts of baking for me.

It took a few minutes to figure out cookie orientation but fig jam got smeared on the dough, the top folded over and pressed close and placed on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Parchment is key; the fruit bubbles out and will bond to your pans with a ferocious tenacity. Twenty minutes in the oven with a pan switch and spin halfway through and we had fig cookies. They are less sweet and more delicate than commercial versions with a prominent lemon taste from the powerful Meyer lemons. Success! The recipe made four dozen and they have miraculously not been all consumed. I will not lie to you: these take some work, especially with fresh figs. However, if you are looking for a new version of an old classic, an afternoon’s work will reward.

For your cooking pleasure:

Homemade Fig Newtons