Fig Rolls

After my recent Figgy Pudding experience, I was left with a bunch of dates and figs. The obvious choice with figs are Fig Newtons. Isn't that what you know figs best for? If not, I'll take a list of the next most popular items. Don't worry, I'll wait.


I do want to explain that Fig Newtons aren't actually a thing anymore. They were the Nabisco branded version of a fig roll, but now are just called "Newtons" (I even verified this with the incredibly factual, always accurate Wikipedia). They'll always be Fig Newtons to me. And with plenty of dried fruits to choose from, I sought out to create my own.

This dough is a very dense one. I made it by first beating butter, honey, and sugar together, then adding in egg yolks. Baking is a science, so it's important to use the yolks here. It's common to eat more egg whites than yolks for breakfast, or even for me to remove an egg and use flax seed, but in a dough like this I would save the chemistry experiments for a few releases in. Egg yolks have more fat than egg whites, and contribute to the thin cookie I was going for. Plus, the egg whites serve a purpose later! So no waste. I hate waste!

On a side note, I recently caught an episode of a Netflix series called "Rotten" that shows some insight on the food industry. There are a plethora of films of that sort, yes, but this was a rather easy watch and didn't seem bent on swaying me into any direction. I like books and shows that give me information and allow me to decide what to do with it. At any rate, the focus of the episode in question was honey. What I learned was about the dilution of honey with sugary syrups, which at a point became quite a big issue. My takeaway wasn't that all store-bought honey is garbage, but rather encouragement that the honey shop I buy from (only a few miles from where I live) is the best place I can go. Of course, I also got to pondering the fact that a substance bees ingest and pass on over to another few bees is something we eat...and that's a whole other rabbit hole. I'm sure if you survived this paragraph you deduced that I used local honey in my recipe. And you are correct.

I added orange zest and vanilla next. The dry ingredients were combined separately. I used a mixture of spelt flour and coconut flour. Why? Well, spelt is known for having a nutty flavor, and I thought that and the grainier texture would go well in this. All-purpose swaps evenly for spelt flour (and coconut flour can be used for up to 30% of a recipe), so quantities are the same if you do not have spelt.

I gradually mixed the dry ingredients into the butter mixture as I would any other cookie. It was then time for the dough to rest. I divided the dough into thirds, flattened them out a bit, then wrapped them in plastic and set them in the fridge. As I knew I wasn't going to be baking that evening, it got to rest overnight.


Then it was time for the figs. I took out the figs I had and chopped them. I had around 2 cups. I stole a few in this process because I learned through this recent dried fruit experience that I am a pretty big fan. Baking changes your life, let me tell you.


Next up was making a fig jam with these dried little pieces of wonder. This was ridiculously easy. I added the figs, fresh orange juice (squeezed directly from that orange [tangerine] I zested moments prior) and some honey to a saucepan, heated it to a simmer over medium, and stirred every now and again while the figs softened up. It took about 25 minutes, and then I used the spoon to mash them up and make them a paste, cooking for a few minutes longer to thicken it. Don't be shy on the mashing! This has to fit through a piping bag so giant chunks won't cut it. Finally, I spread the jam out on some wax paper and let it cool down before placing it the fridge. I needed it to thicken up enough to hold up in a pastry bag.


My pastry board makes life so much easier. I can take it wherever I need to set up shop. Easy clean up, too. Note the little dough bundles, stiff and ready to roll after about 22 hours in the fridge. The recipe I was working from warmed me that this dough could be challenging to work with because it warms up and softens with handling. I have worked with lots of phyllo dough in my day so I am used to working quickly; this may be why I experienced no trouble with it. Either way, I opened the dough up one at a time to keep the remaining ones cold until it was their time.

The filling was all spooned into a pastry bag with a large tip cut on it to make the next steps easier.



The dough did require a good amount of flour, though, so be prepared with your stash! I rolled out the dough into a long shape a little over 10 x 4 inches, and about 1/2 inch thick. Each log makes just about the right amount, so as long as you roll it to about that width and height and the thickness is evenly distributed, you're doing it right. I trimmed the edges to make a rectangle vs whatever strange round-ish shape I had originally.


I made good use of my frosting kit and piped the filling about 1/3 from one of the sides.


I wound up running filling in twice to make a thick cookie. I would like to note that I made 3 fig logs total and only had enough filling to run the piping once over the other two. It just makes a slightly smaller cookie, so proceed as you wish.


To seal the cookies, I brushed egg wash lengthwise along the dough on the side closest to the filling.


Lastly, I folded the larger section of dough (the remaining 2/3 from where I spread the fig) over the fig filling and gently pressed the seams together, using the egg wash as binding. The pieces seamed together nicely.


I placed the fig logs into the fridge for about 10 minutes before slicing them and used my sharpest knife to cut 'em into 1 inch thick slices. I didn't want to smash these little dudes.


And since this is a dense dough (and if you've ever seen a Fig Newton you know they aren't puffy), rising isn't expected and they can be placed pretty close together on a cookie sheet.


I had mine in there about 14 minutes before I could tell they were slightly more golden. And homemade fig rolls were born.


*BOOOOOM*
That's the sound of my mind blowing after waiting an entire 3-5 minutes for one of these to cool down after baking. You can make them at home! They are good!

I've always liked Fig Newtons. They're great cookies! But now I get to have 'em with spelt flour and not pumped out of a cookie factory! Happiness is a warm cookie. But let's not go by me, let's talk about the colleague taste experimentation since that's exactly where these went the next morning. Good reviews all around, but the one that stood out most was someone who loved Fig Newtons more than even me and wound up loving these! A baker can't get any happier than with pleased snack eaters.

I actually thought these would be more challenging; it's easy to get conditioned into believing that rolling pins = extra skill level required. That really wasn't the case here. There were some extra steps when compared to a basic chocolate chip cookie, but it wasn't the challenging sort. This one is a winner!

Fig Rolls Recipe

Ingredients:

For the dough:
10 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
3 egg yolks
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 1/4 cup spelt flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt

For the filling:
2 cups dried black figs
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup water
6 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg white

Instructions:

To make the dough, beat butter, honey, and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. In a medium bowl, combine flours, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, and salt. Add eggs to butter mixture and beat for 1-2 more minutes. Mix in vanilla, honey, and orange zest. Gradually add dry ingredients, slowly mixing after each addition. Separate dough into three equal portions, then wrap in plastic and refrigerate for about 3 hours.

To make the filling, cut the stems off the figs and cut into quarters. Add to a saucepan with orange juice, water, honey, and salt. Heat to medium and simmer for about 25 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Mash figs to make a paste, lower heat to low, and continue cooking for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and spread jam onto a plate. Refrigerate until cold, then spoon into a piping bag with a tip cut about 1/2" wide.

Once dough is ready, spread flour on a rolling surface and rolling pin. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Beat one egg white in a small bowl. Remove plastic from one portion of dough and roll into a rectangular shape about 10" x 4" and 1/2" thick. Trim edges to make an even rectangle and gather leftover dough into a pile to add into the other dough later. Pipe the fig filling lengthwise along the dough, about 1/3 of the way across the width. Use a pastry brush to spread egg lengthwise along the edge closest to the fig filling, then fold the opposite side over the filling to create the roll. Gently combine the seams together to make the dough uniform. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Using a sharp knife, cut the log widthwise into 1 inch wide cookies. Set on a cookie sheet about 1/2" apart. Refrigerate again for 10 minutes, then bake for 15 minutes.

adapted from homemade fig newtons

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