Orange Cardamom Fig Newtons

November 11, 2010
6 Ratings
  • Makes 5 dozen cookies
Author Notes

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

What You'll Need
  • Cookie dough
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Orange-Cardamom Fig Filling
  • 1 pound fresh figs
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • zest from 1 orange
  • 5-8 cardamom pods
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine butter and sugar, then beat in eggs and vanilla.
  2. Mix in flour, baking soda and baking powder.
  3. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
  4. Note: you can sub some of the whole wheat flour for all-purpose if you want it to taste a little less... healthy.
  5. 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!).
  6. 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.
  7. Preheat oven to 375.
  8. 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.
  9. Slice the strips into 1-inch segments. No need to cut all the way through -- you can break them apart later.
  10. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until brown.
  11. Cool and repeat the process with the other half of the dough.
  12. These cookies are better a day or two later so feel free to make them ahead of time.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Adelucchi
  • chris
  • almacucina
  • millicent
  • ChefJune
I love experimenting in the kitchen and learning new techniques.

25 Reviews

Fran August 6, 2018
I make this annually when my fig tree provides me with a bounty of figs. The recipe is a bit time consuming but the fig newtons are soooo delicious. Really worth the time it takes to make.
vrunka September 21, 2018
I'm so delighted to hear this! I'm still waiting for my fall figs to come in.
Harvest Q. September 24, 2017
I had the same problem with crumbly dough. I added a bit more butter but that didn't work so I just flattened half the dough into an eight inch square pan, added the figs, then patted the rest of the dough on top. It came out fine but next time I'll do half all purpose flour and half whole wheat. It would help to know which type of cardamom you used.
Adelucchi October 4, 2015
Made this recipe after looking at it many times. It is great! All my fears of fig jam running out of the dough and making a mess were banished when these came out of the oven. They are delish! I wouldn't change a thing. Thanks for bringing my childhood favorite back but much better!
vrunka October 5, 2015
Yay! So glad you enjoyed them. I've been making big batches of this myself too!
Steph July 12, 2015
Hi there! I LOVE this recipe and have made it several times. It's been a while since last I made it and this time the dough seems to be so crumbly that I can barely roll it out. Any thoughts? Thanks for this yummy treat!
vrunka October 5, 2015
I am sorry I didn't see this until now, but if this happens again, feel free to add more butter or a bit of water to help it hold together.
chris September 16, 2014
I would never have thought about making fig newtons, before finding this great recipe. I used black mission dried figs (they had probably been on the shelf for a while), and it took longer than an hour to soften them. After assembling the "logs" I thought the tops looked a bit ragged, so I flipped them over and they baked with a lovely smooth top. Delicious; I can't wait to make them with fresh figs!
Tom M. February 10, 2014
I can't get fresh figs can I use dried figs and if yes how many?
vrunka February 13, 2014
Hi Tom, Yes, you can definitely use dried figs. I've not made it that way myself, but what I would start with is about half a pound of dried figs plus maybe two cups of liquid: water would be fine, but orange juice or some combination of water and booze (like brandy) would be even better. If you try it, let me know how it goes!

The short cut option, of course, is to just buy some fig jam at the store. You can add some cardamom and orange zest to it if you want the same flavors as described in the recipe.

have fun!
gazputchy September 22, 2013
A neighbor gave us a bunch of figs so I just made these. I had to gluten-free them but it worked and they're delicious! Thanks for sharing.
vrunka September 23, 2013
So glad you got a chance to make them and I'm happy to hear that they work well gluten-free! I just got a big box full of figs, too, so I'll be making another batch of these soon. Yum!
almacucina July 14, 2013
I can't wait to try these! I have a fig tree with lots of fruits coming in and this sounds like the perfect way to preserve them!
millicent January 10, 2013
These are amazingly easy and yummy - I have made them twice. I baked half the batch then store the second batch in the freezer. This way whenever I want a hot treat I break apart a cookie and bake it. Then I can enjoy warm cookies whenever I desire.
Wrapping them in plastic cling soon after they leave the oven (but cool enough the plastic doesn't melt) ensures they dont dry out but stay soft and chewy
vrunka January 10, 2013
That's a really great idea, millicent. Now if I could just keep from eating all of them as soon as I make them... :)
ChefJune May 14, 2012
I can't believe I didn't see this recipe before. Guess it's fairly time appropriate, since fresh figs will soon begin appearing around here. This is a must-make. Thanks.
treeamy September 16, 2011
I had to make these as figs are in such abundance right now. I was absolutely startled as I took my first bite: along with the registration in my brain of "oh my gosh, this is a FIG NEWTON!", my mind was flooded with happy childhood memories. These little squares are packed with flavor and (look out!) nostalgia. An absolutely perfect fall treat.
Waverly January 30, 2011
These look so good!
cheese1227 December 10, 2010
Oh, I have to try these.
Sagegreen December 9, 2010
Congrats on the ep, vrunka! Great combination!
Kitchen B. December 9, 2010
Love this recipe, esp the flavour combination of orange and cardamom!!!!!!!!! I made some fig paste which is languishing in the fridge....I may well make these over the weekend
healthierkitchen December 1, 2010
Wow! Love these flavors and I love working with whole wheat flour.
TheWimpyVegetarian December 1, 2010
Delicious- looking!! I'm all over cardamom right now!
CottageGourmet November 16, 2010
Ditto: yum. Two of my favorite things -- figs and cardamom.
drbabs November 12, 2010