Friday, April 10, 2009

Not Your Grandmother's Fig Newton

It seems that at holiday times, we have some foods that are comfort for us. Figs, Dates and Chestnuts (especially chestnuts at Thanksgiving and Christmas), evoke memories of holidays past and those no longer with us. We think of who liked what foods, funny stories that might have been told, funny incidents that may have happened...and these get told over and over at each special holiday. This Easter, I am going to set out some figs to snack on before dinner. Have you ever tasted a fresh fig? Juicy, sweet and delicious are the three words that come to my mind when I think of biting into one. I usually set out some died figs after dinner as a dessert alternative at holiday time. Figs are good for you because they are a good source of potassium that helps control blood pressure, are a good source of dietary fiber, are a good source of calcium and have been shown to help lower triglycerides.

But these will not be just plain dried figs this year. I found this recipe on the Food Network website and is Nigella's. The blending of the flavors sounds wonderful....the sweet figs, the creamy goat cheese and the salty prosciutto. I am ready to take a bit into one of these! I have also made a similar snacker with dates. If you use the Medjool dates, they are very sweet and combine well with the goat cheese. Those are served slightly warmed and are so good! And in keeping with the fig theme, make some fig-swirl cookies. These came off of the website. You will never want a packaged fig newton when you taste these. The nice part is that you can make these ahead and bake them when ready. They slice more easily when they are very cold so I usually make them a day ahead of baking. Also, be sure your knife is very sharp. There you are...three nice ideas for fruits that are sweet AND healthy.
Prosciutto Bundles
Nigella Lawson
14 ounces (400 grams) sliced prosciutto

7 ounces (200 grams) ready-to-eat dried figs

5 1/4 ounces (150 grams) mild soft goat cheese

Cut each slice of prosciutto into 2 to 3 strips. Slice each fig in half, and spread a teaspoon of goat cheese onto the cut half of each of the figs.
Place the piece of fig cheese side down onto the center of a strip of prosciutto ham. Then roll the fig up in the prosciutto to make it into a parcel.
Place the fig parcels onto a clean plate and serve.


Stuffed Dates

Large dates- pit removed- cut in half like you would an Italian hero roll
Fill with goat cheese (may have been mixed with a little cream cheese to "soften the taste"
Top with browned in butter, plain bread crumbs
Put in oven @ 350- just to warm.


Fig Swirl Cookies

The intricate swirls are attained with a specific kitchen skill: slice and bake. You'll get a little sweet pastry and a little fig filling in every bite.
Yield: Makes about 4 dozen cookies

Active Time: 1 hr Total Time: 7 1/4 hr (includes chilling)

For pastry dough
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt 1 stick
(1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
4 oz cream cheese at room temperature
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla

For filling 1 cup packed soft dried Mission figs (8 oz), hard tips discarded
3/4 cup mild honey
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 teaspoons grated fresh orange zest
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Make pastry dough:
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
Pulse butter, cream cheese, yolk, and vanilla in a food processor until smooth, then add flour mixture and pulse until dough just forms a ball.
Halve dough and form each half into a roughly 6- by 2-inch rectangle. Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, about 1 1/2 hours.
Make filling:
Purée figs, honey, juice, zest, and cinnamon in cleaned food processor until almost smooth.

Make logs:
Roll out 1 piece of dough between 2 sheets of wax paper into a 10- by 8-inch rectangle (about 1/3 inch thick), long side facing you.

Remove top sheet of wax paper and gently spread one fourth of fig mixture over bottom half of dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border.
Using wax paper as an aid, roll dough, jelly-roll style, halfway, enclosing fig mixture.

Flip dough, with wax paper. Remove paper.
Spread with one third of remaining fig mixture and roll in same manner, to form an S-shaped log. Make another log. Chill logs, wrapped in wax paper, until firm, at least 4 hours.
Bake cookies:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F.
Cut logs crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices and arrange slices about 2 inches apart on lightly buttered baking sheets. Bake until pastry is pale golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to racks to cool.
Cooks' notes: · Unbaked logs can be chilled up to 3 days. · Cookies keep, layered between sheets of wax paper or parchment, in an airtight container at room temperature 1 week.



  1. Those recipes look amazing. I would never have thought to put those things together, but the dates and cheese sound good!

    Thanks Linda!


  2. What a great post.. so many different ways to enjoy them .. would have never thought!

  3. Love the prosciutto bundles idea. I have a family member who's celiac, along with a ton of other food allergies, so those would be a perfect tidbit to offer!

    And your date recipes! Ooooh!


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