There is just something so satisfying about picking fruit off of its plant and watching it transform in your kitchen into something new. To see food in its original state changes everything. You see the beautiful lush leaves covering half of the fruit from the sunlight. In return ripening half and leaving the other half green and untouched. How is it that fruit from the grocery store doesn't show this reality? Even the smell of fruit when its freshly snapped off of the tree leaves you wanting more. Its not picked last week and refrigerated on its way to various store fronts. Its leaves and stems are not dried out from the air. Its fresh, its local, and best of all, it was harvested by your own two hands. (Or a few little hands, if you choose to get the kiddos involved)
Though we are stuck in busy built-up NYC, we lucky enough to have a fig tree behind our home. Like a diamond in the rough our 12 foot fig tree provides us with loads of fruit each season. Every morning, Gunner and Ivy's leashes in hand, I walk to the back of our home waiting for the scent of the sweet flourishing figs to hit me right in the face. I walk over to the tree and watch the squirrels and birds scatter. We share the bounty, even though Id prefer them not to take two bites out of a fig and leave. I take a handful of the ripest fruit I can find, while Gunner eats the half eaten figs off the bottom branches, and bring them into our house with the intent of finding a new way to use them.
This recipe for Fresh strawberry fig newtons comes from my moms repetuar. She had a fig tree as well and would make fresh fig newtons after saving up the figs for a week. Sometimes she'd barter with our neighbors to take from their trees. I usually don't have enough figs at once to get 4 cups, so the combination with strawberry was born. The earthy, sweet, rich flavor of figs pairs perfectly with the tart, bright flavor of strawberries. The best part about making fig newtons with fresh fruit, is that its a two for one deal. You'll have a delicious batch of cookies, and the left over filling doubles as an oh so satisfying refrigerator jam. You will not be disappointed.
Step 1: Make the simple dough (I use my kitchen aid mixer) wrap it in plastic and toss it into the fridge to chill.
Step 2: Chop up the fruit into small pieces. Cook on the stove until reduced and syrupy. Let cool.
Step 3: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Roll out chilled dough to about 12" by 14".
Step 4: Cut 3 lines length wise to make 4 even strips. Spoon filling in a thin line down the center of the strips. Jar up any extra filling and save in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. It can be used as a jam or re-purposed into another dessert.
Step 5: The hard part. Fold the sides of the strips over the filling. Cut into individual cookies, about an inch to inch and a half wide.
Step 6: Carefully place the cookies seem side down onto a cookie sheet. Leave some room between them, they do spread a little bit. Bake 10-12 minutes and immediately move to a wire rack while the cookies are still hot. Since these are soft cookies with filling, they tend to be sticky when they come out of the oven. Moving them to a wire rack while hot will prevent them from sticking to the pan or each other.
Fresh Strawberry and Wild Fig Newtons
About 40 cookies
2 hrs 40 min
1 stick Butter (room temperature)
1 cup Dark brown sugar (packed)
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups All purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
1 tsp. Baking soda
Cream together butter and sugar (in stand mixer with paddle attachment or handheld mixer)
Add eggs and vanilla
Slowly add flour and baking soda. Mix just until dough is combined.
Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours
Add fruit, sugar, water, and lemon juice to a sauce pot.
Bring to a boil over high heat
Turn heat to medium and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Once reduced by half, remove from heat and let cool.
Preheat oven to 350F
Roll out pastry on lightly floured surface to a large rectangle about 12x14 inches.
Cut 4 even strips lengthwise.
Spoon a thin line of filling into the center of the 4 strips.
Fold both sides of the strips over the filling.
Place cookies cut side down onto a greased cookie sheet.
Bake 10-12 minutes
Immediately move cookies to a wire rack to cool.