May 8, 2014 1 Comment
Fig Newtons: the lunchtime favorite that is supposedly “healthy” because it has fruit in it, making it an acceptable choice for moms and dads across the country who want to pack their kids a little something sweet.
Just look at them. They’re so cute and innocent that no one could possibly think they’re junk food…
Wrong. That’s why my parents used to give me the “healthy” version of the “healthy” cookie, Fig Newmans, which were at least made with organic flour and fewer unpronounceable ingredients.
Even though they were “healthy,” I loved Fig Newmans/Newtons. There was something about that soft, buttery cookie and the way it paired with the chewy, sticky figs in the center. Then again, figs are one of my all-time favorite foods, so perhaps that’s why I enjoyed the cookie so much.
Today, I’m going to show you how to make a truly healthy Fig Newton, one made with almond flour, delicious raw honey (or maple syrup, if you prefer), and sweet, flavorful Mission figs. Everyone who sampled one of these babies said they were better than the original, and my friend from China (who has never had a Fig Newton before) said they were super yummy.
They’re actually pretty simple to make; the only tricky part is preventing the almond flour dough from sticking to your countertop, which is an incredible pain in the butt. But you’ll make it through for these tasty cookies, won’t you?
Please, just make these. I’m begging you. They are incredible. And I’ll show you how, too!
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together 1/4 cup of non-hydrogenated organic palm shortening (or butter, if you prefer) with 3 tablespoons of unrefined cane sugar (or coconut sugar/maple crystals) on medium speed for about a minute or so. Once light and well-incorporated, scoop in 1/3 cup of raw honey and beat on medium until creamy and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
A word about honey: I know honey isn’t technically “vegan,” but it’s the only “animal” product I used in this recipe. Because raw, unheated honey tends to be thick and almost pasty, it really helps bind the cookies together and gives it almost a light, buttery taste. If you prefer, you can use maple syrup or coconut nectar, but unless you’re a serious vegan (or have an allergy to bees), I’d say go for the honey: it’s delicious and has a lot of good nutrients, too.
Now, pour in 2 teaspoons of vanilla and mix on low just to incorporate, only about 1 minute.
To the wet ingredients, add 2 1/3 cups of blanched almond flour, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of cinnamon. Mix on low until all of the ingredients are combined and a solid-but-still-damp dough forms, about 2 minutes.
Scoop out all of the dough onto a big sheet of plastic wrap and form it into a ball (or heart…). Put in the fridge for 2-4 hours to firm up.
Meanwhile, make the fig filling: combine 10 ounces of Mission figs with 2 tablespoons of your preferred liquid sweetener (I used maple syrup), 1 small, ripe banana, 1 tablespoon of vanilla, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until smooth and sticky, about 2 minutes.
Transfer the fig mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a large, wide tip or a plastic storage bag with the corner snipped off. Set aside while you roll out the cookie dough.
After the waiting time has elapsed, preheat the oven to 350, line two baking sheet with parchment paper, and take out the dough and place it on a well-floured, clean work surface. (I always use arrowroot powder to prevent stuff from sticking.) Roll it out into an approximately 9 x 12 inch rectangle using your hands or a VERY well-floured rolling pin.
Cut the dough vertically (down the longer side) into 4 sections. Start with one and place the other three in the fridge for the meantime.
Using the pastry bag or plastic bag filled with the fig filling, pipe a long, fat line down the center of the dough quarter, making sure it stretches all the way to the end.
Using a small knife or an inverted spatula, lift either ends of the cookie dough up and over the filling. Applying gentle pressure, secure the seam between the two sides and either cut off or pinch up the ends.
With a sharp knife or dough cutter, break the log into 2-inch long cookies. Once you cut each one, work it a little in your hands and/or on the counter to make the seam a little more subtle.
Repeat the same steps with the remaining three pieces of dough and the fig filling.
Transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 10 minutes, then transfer to the top rack for another 2 minutes if they aren’t already golden-brown. (You only want to be seeing a little color around the edges: too much means they’re over-baked!)
Let cool to room temperature before inhaling.
Betcha can’t eat just one.
What is your favorite snack cookie? Leave me a comment here or on Facebook and let me know!