Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Figs: Part Five ~ Fig Newtons ~

Even Nabisco doesn’t seem to have one singular solid story of where the Fig Newton originated from, but the best version states that a baker by the name of Charles Roser came up with the recipe for the fig filled biscuit. Then in 1892, James Henry Mitchell patented a machine that was able to insert fig paste inside pastry dough. The machine was like a funnel within a funnel, continually spitting out fig paste and cookie dough, creating an endless filled cookie that could be cut into individual pieces. Imagine if Nabisco sold foot long Fig Newtons. Amazing. I mean, they’re capable of it. They should. I’d buy a box. I might be the only one buying it though. And I’d buy just one box. Clearly this is the greatest business proposition ever.

Sorry for that tangent. To continue, the rest of the story has to do with the name. If the supposed inventors were a Roser and a Mitchell, why a Newton? Well, the original maker of the cookie was the Kennedy Biscuit Company, soon to be swallowed up into the behemoth that is Nabisco. They had a habit of naming their products after towns nearby. They already had a Shrewsbury, Harvard, and Beacon Hill product, so they chose to utilize Newton, Massachussets good name. And there you have it. The Fig Newton was born.

I love Fig Newtons but the biscuit part always seems a bit dry. And after seeing Martha Stewart’s recipe in her Cookie book, I’ve always wanted to try making it but as with all things in my life, I was just too lazy about it. Until now. I googled a bunch of recipes since I didn’t really like the one in the Cookie book. They looked like bars with all four edges showing the fig filling, not cookies that only had two open sides. I settled on one from CDKitchen.

I made the dough, rolled it out, trimmed the edges, then spooned on some filling I made from figs leftover from other projects. I had two types in the fridge. The darker one came from the Cookie book, except I improvised by using leftover fresh figs instead of dried, and my leftover figs were a mixture of Calimyrnas, Brown Turkeys, and Mission figs. I deviate from recipes. The lighter one was just something I threw together after making the mousse cake. I had leftover Brown Turkeys and Calimyrnas so dumped them in a saucepan with some sugar and simmered away. They were both nice and figgy, but the red wine one tasted more sophisticated. More adult. Guess I’m not a kid anymore.

Then it came time to bake except my oven wouldn’t turn on! I’m sure it’s just the pilot light but I’m scared of gas. I ended up driving to J’s and borrowing her oven. I felt funny driving with the cookie sheet on the passenger seat next to me. All they needed was an oven! Poor little guys.

Soon they were placed in the comforting warmth of the oven and they baked up nice and brown. I cut them while still warm to minimize crackage of the cookie dough. They didn’t turn out as the most shapely creatures, but they were tasty! The edges were a little crispy, and the filling warm and soft. And as K pointed out, they actually tasted like figs. They tasted better than the photographs make them out to be.

I still like artificial machine made scarily uniform Nabisco Fig Newtons though. Mine are better, but I’m not baking an entire batch for you for $2.50. Freshness comes with a price!

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