The Alternative Filling For Sweeter (And Easier) Homemade Fig Newtons

The sandwich cookies you know and love can be made at home, and the recipes can be adjusted to meet both dietary and flavor preferences. Fig Newtons may sound like a difficult recipe to replicate, but a few baking hacks can have you on your way to enjoying chewy, fruity cookies along with your afternoon latte. Fresh figs can contribute to jammy, gooey cookie fillings, but if the fresh product isn't available at your local market, all hope is not lost. 

Dried figs are typically easier to find and stock in your pantry, and you can use the ingredient easily in your baking recipes. Because dried figs pack more sugar than fresh figs, the sweet addition can turn up all the right notes in your next homemade batch of cookies without requiring the addition of other sweeteners. Whether you take more of a cookie dough approach to making Fig Newtons or use whole flour to create bar-like cookies, the figgy flower filling you put together can make or break your cookie recipe. When prepared correctly and tucked inside freshly baked cookies, however, dried figs could be easily mistaken for the fresher form.

Dress up dried figs for baking

To prepare dried figs for their baking debut, create a fig paste before you consider baking any layered cookie. Add a squeeze of lemon or orange juice to a bowl of chopped dried figs, then simmer the mixture on low heat with enough water to soften the figs and create a thick paste. If you want a sweeter touch, add applesauce or a drizzle of honey to create a spreadable texture, or for a more luxurious, adult flavor profile, add a few splashes of Grand Marnier to the mix. Depending on the brand of the dried figs you purchase, you may need to add more water or liquid to form a paste-like consistency.

Once the figs have softened, blend the concoction in a food processor to make a spread. You can choose whether you'd like your filling to be chunkier or smoother in texture. Keep in mind that as your spread cools, it will thicken, so have an idea of the consistency you're aiming to create as you assemble your cookies. We advise making more fig paste than what you think you'll need and saving leftovers to top pancakes or make another batch of cookies later on in the week.