When people see these little square cookies their faces light up with nostalgia. But what's even better is that after they take a bite, their smiles broaden and they declare these cookies even better than the originals. It's easy to make a big heap of these and keep the smiles going all day long. Note: If you don't have fresh figs, you can substitute a 1/2 pound dry figs, plus 2 cups water (or if you want to make grown-up fig newtons, you could use brandy or Cointreau for some of the liquid). - vrunka —vrunka
Test Kitchen Notes
Vrunka's cookies are a very nice update on the classic fig newton. With just a hint of citrus and spice, the sweet fig compote filling is delicious. Be sure to stir the figs when you start cooking, and add a little water or orange juice to keep the sugar from burning too quickly. You may not need an hour to get a nice thick consistency. Go for whole wheat flour -- its nutty quality works well with the flavorful fig filling. – Stephanie —The Editors
In a large mixing bowl, combine butter and sugar, then beat in eggs and vanilla.
Mix in flour, baking soda and baking powder.
Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Note: you can sub some of the whole wheat flour for all-purpose if you want it to taste a little less... healthy.
Chop up the figs and combine with all filling ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil then simmer until thick, about 1 hour. Remove from heat and remove cardamom pods (remember to count them before you put them in so you know how many you're looking for!).
If it's too chunky, whirr the whole thing in a blender or with an immersion blender. Or just mash it with a potato masher. It doesn't have to be perfectly smooth, but you don't want big chunks.
Preheat oven to 375.
Split dough in half and roll it into a square-ish shape about 12' on each side. Cut it into three strips and transfer the strips to a cookie sheet (that's preferably covered with a silpat or parchment paper or just greased). Put a skinny strip of fig paste down the middle and then fold up the two sides so that meet at the top in the middle and over lap a little. They should stick together just fine, but give them a little squeeze if needed.
Slice the strips into 1-inch segments. No need to cut all the way through -- you can break them apart later.
Bake for 10-15 minutes or until brown.
Cool and repeat the process with the other half of the dough.
These cookies are better a day or two later so feel free to make them ahead of time.