Ah, the Fig Newton. They are so soft, chewy and as far as packaged, preserved cookies go, somewhat on the healthy-ish side. This homemade version is all that and more, due to the fresh ingredients and lack of preservatives. The filling is made with fresh dates instead of figs so I guess these are really Date Newtons. The recipe is a bit challenging but totally worth it.
To make the ooey, gooey, rich and chewy filling, you simply steep dates in apple cider until a jam-like consistency is reached. (Apple juice works fine here if you are not able to find cider.) The golden, flaky, tender, cakey outside is made with whole wheat and all-purpose flours, wheat bran, and dark brown sugar. The addition of unsweetened applesauce adds to the yummy softness of this cookie. And, if you do not want to buy a large jar of applesauce, a small jar of pureed apple baby food is an excellent substitute.
The rolling, filling and dough fold over part is somewhat difficult but do persevere because these cookies will have you doing the (Date) Newton in no time.
Whole Wheat Date Newtons
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Makes 2 dozen
2 1/4 cups pitted dates (about 11 ounces)
3/4 cup apple cider or apple juice
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for parchment
1/4 cup wheat bran
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
2/3 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1/4 cup smooth unsweetened applesauce
Make filling: Bring dates and cider to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, simmer until dates are soft and almost all liquid has reduced, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely. Transfer to a food processor. Puree date mixture until smooth, set aside.
Make dough: Whisk together flours, bran, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl, set aside. Put sugar and zest in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed 30 seconds. Add butter, mix until combined, about 1 minute. Add egg, mix until fluffy. Mix in flour in 3 batches, alternating with 2 batches of applesauce. Divide dough in half. Wrap each half in plastic; shape into a rectangle. Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out 1 piece of dough between two lightly floured sheets of parchment paper to a 9 1/2-by-13-inch rectangle. Dust with more flour, if needed. Remove top piece of parchment. Trim dough to a 9-by-11-inch rectangle. Transfer rectangle on parchment to a baking sheet.
Cut rectangle in half lengthwise. Spread a heaping cup filling down half of each length, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Fold dough over; pinch to seal. Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes. Repeat with remaining chilled dough and filling.
Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks 5 minutes. Cut into 1 1/2-inch bars. Transfer bars to racks using a spatula; let cool. Bars can be stored in airtight containers up to 3 days.