So many times I've gone into the kitchen to bake something and thought to myself, "Alright, I'm going to be super neat and get as little as possible dirty so the cleanup will be easier." Does it ever work? Nooooo.
I look at the kitchen after I'm done and it looks like a tornado just ripped through it.
The weird thing is, I'm actually a really neat and organized person, but whenever I do any kind of work, I end up with a mess everywhere. I should probably clean up as I go and maybe that would help, but that just isn't the way I do things. I can't help it.
Of course, once I've washed all the dishes and wiped off the floors, the countertops, and all of the appliances I've used, the kitchen is back to its normal state of cleanliness, but cleanup time really isn't that much fun. :(
What brought on this subject of my messy baking habits? My "Fig Newton" cookies. I make them at least once every summer when our fig trees start producing a plethora of plump, juicy figs, and as many times as I've made this recipe, I've never been able to do it neatly. In fact, it was one of the messiest recipes I have. Why do I say "was"? Because finally, FINALLY, I've found a solution. Lucky for you, not only can you make this recipe, but you can make it the easier way with your first shot.
These cookies are soft and chewy, with a unique flavor of citrus and cinnamon mixed in. The fig filling tastes fresh and sweet. Altogether, they make a light, delicious cookie that's perfect for summer.
"Fig Newton"-esque cookies
(makes about 30 2-inch square cookies)
For the filling:
2 cups chopped fresh figs
juice of 1 orange
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
½ teaspoon orange zest
For the cookies:
½ cup butter, softened (1 stick)
1 egg white
½ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 ½ cups bread flour
Oven Temperature: 350 F
Note: You will likely have more fig filling than you need for the cookies. In my experience, it keeps for a few weeks stored in the refrigerator. Use it as you would a jam or jelly, save it for another batch of cookies, or (my personal reccomendation) use it in these Jam 'n Almond Scones.
Prepare the filling:
1. In a small saucepan, combine the chopped figs, orange juice, and granulated sugar and bring to a boil. Add the cornstarch and stir in quickly so it does not lump. Continue stirring until the mixture has thickened. Remove from the heat and transfer to a food processor fitted with the steel blade attachment. Process with the orange zest until the whole mixture is smooth and no more chunks of figs remain. Store the filling in the fridge until ready to use.
Make the cookies:
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter, sugar, egg white, orange zest, vanilla, and cinnamon for 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the bread flour and stir in at lowest speed until just combine. Transfer the dough to a dinner-size plate that is covered in saran wrap and shape the dough into a rough square. Cover the top with saran wrap as well, and place the plate in the fridge to chill for at least two hours.
3. After chilling the dough, remove from the fridge and allow to soften, about 30 minutes. You want it to squish under the push of your finger so it is easy to work with. Cut the square of dough in half, and place each half on a Silpat mat covered with saran wrap, or on a sheet of parchment paper. Cover the top of the dough with saran wrap as well and roll out each half into a rectangle that is approximatley 9 inches by 12 inches. If the dough has softened enough, it should be forgiving, meaning that if it cracks while you're rolling, you should be able to use your finger to smooth it back together.
4. Once both halves have been rolled out, remove the saran wrap you put on top and spread the fig filling completely over one half. You most likely won't use all of the filling, so don't try to layer the filling too thick. Then, use the saran wrap or parchment paper under the dough half that does not have the filling to flip the rectangle of dough over the other one, making a sandwich with the filling in the middle. Carefully remove the saran wrap or parchment paper on the top of the cookie sandwich.
5. Next comes the tricky part. You need to remove the saran wrap or parchment paper that's under your cookie sandwich. If you're like me, you'll probably start doing this a certain way, reassess, start a different way, reassess, and finally figure out how it will work. This is what I did: I laid another Silpat mat on top of the cookie sandwich and, grabbing opposite corners of the top and bottom mats, flipped the sandwich over and onto a baking sheet. Once you've flipped the sandwich, you can carefully remove the silpat mat and saran wrap (or parchment paper) that is now on top. If you can, pinch together the sides of the cookie sandwich a bit.
6. Bake the cookie sandwich in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. It should looked baked but not necessarily crisp or brown when done. Allow to cool thoroughly before using a pizza wheel to cut the sandwich into cookies of your choice size.