Remember in school there was always that kid who had Fig Newton in his lunch? Didn’t you TOTALLY feel sorry for that kid? Seriously, what self respecting mother would subject their kid to the abuse that is the Fig Newton. Maybe they were always on sale. Maybe she thought they were healthier than Oreos or Nutter Butters. But seriously, who ate them? They had zero value on the trading market. Even the little box o’ raisins kids didn’t want to trade for the Newton.
The Fig Newton was the extent of my knowledge regarding figs in any form until I was about 20 years old. And then I went to Italy. And it was there that I had my first fresh fig…..o.m.g. So figging delicious. Of course it never hurt that it was paired with salty prosciutto or sharp gorgonzola. Ham and cheese make everything swoon worthy in my opinion. And then a few years later, my boss, who spent much of the year in Southern Italy, brought me a gift of dried figs from the Cilento region. I can honestly say I still dream about these little morsels of perfection. They were homemade so of course, nothing that I have bought has ever come close. They were dried under the Cilento sun, stuffed with an almond and somehow involved lemon and orange rind. I don’t know the secret, I just know that I could not be trusted with a plate of them.
So the seemingly lowly fig rose to great heights in my culinary hierarchy and now fig cookies, a staple in many regions in Italy (in different varieties) are at the top of my list. I made cuccidati a couple of years ago (I think I ate them all because my family would not touch them), and this year I tried fig pinwheels. They are easy, festive and as far from a Fig Newton as pasta bolognese is from Chef Boyardee. Enjoy!
from Canadian Living
1 cup chopped light-coloured dried fig
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons brandy
2 tablespoons apple juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2/3 cups unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
In saucepan, bring chopped figs, orange rind and juice, brown sugar, brandy and cinnamon to boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat to medium and cook until thickened, about 3 minutes. Transfer to food processor; purèe until smooth. Scrape into bowl; let cool.
Dough: In separate bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, allspice, salt and cloves. In large bowl, beat butter with sugar; mix in egg. Stir in flour mixture. Divide in half and form into 2 rectangles. Wrap each and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Between waxed paper, roll out each piece of dough into 12- x 8-inch (30 x 20 cm) rectangle. Spread each with half of the fig filling, leaving 1/2-inch (1 cm) border along 1 long edge.
Using waxed paper to help and starting at opposite long edge, roll up dough, sealing seam. Wrap each log and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
Cut each log into 1/4-inch thick slices; bake on parchment paper–lined baking sheets in 350F oven until light golden, 10 to 12 minutes.