Ivonne's figgy call went out, and I have tried to answer. Yah, the picture isn't very pretty... they could have used a sprinkling of sugar pre-baking... but I wanted to let these cute little bars also serve as a tasty sweet afternoon snack... which meant... no added sugar! (Don't worry, they're still nice and sweet!)
This being both my first ever Sugar High Friday and my first experience with figs, I was surprisingly calm. Even rowdy with the recipe. Rowdy? What do I mean? If you know me, you know I am a devout recipe follower. I might smidge a little here or there (I always add extra garlic (who doesn't?) or less salt or sub out splenda where it fits), but for the most part, I stick to the rules. I am not an intuitive cook (yet), so I don't trust my whimsical decisions. So yesterday, as I was picking out figs, and I could get only 1 lb, not 2... I initially thought I would just halve the whole recipe. But then when I got home, lugging all my stuff up the stairs, I wondered how my fresh market peaches would work incorporated into the mess... figs and peaches? Could they be friends?
I don't know why I did it. I mean, have you ever seen a peach newton? I haven't. I also hadn't ever purchased my very own fresh figs... so.. maybe the newness got to me. Whatever it was, I like it. I might learn to trust that crazy little voice in my head!
These cute little bars won't win any beauty contests, but they are delightful little mouthfuls! The fruit is nice and sweet and the cream cheese dough is a nice mix of chewy and flaky. Mine don't look like Gena's, but that's okay. Just means I'll have to try them again! And this time, who knows what that little voice will have me doing with the filling!
I want to give a little shout-out love to the lovely man in the produce department that taught me how to pick the perfect fig - I don't know what I would have done without you!
Better Fig Newtons
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room-temperature
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, room-temperature
Cinnamon sugar (optional)
1 lb fresh figs, chopped
1 lb fresh peaches, chopped
1/4 cup sugar
Juice of a lemon
To make pastry: in a medium bowl, whisk together flour and salt. In a large bowl, using either a standing mixer or a handheld one, beat the butter and cream cheese until well-combined. Add flour mixture, and beat until combined into a sticky dough. Turn out onto a sheet of plastic wrap, wrap it up, and press down to flatten a bit. Chill in refrigerator while making jam.
In a saucier or medium sauce pan, combine figs, half of the sugar, and half of the lemon juice. Repeat in a separate pan with the peaches. Mash each mixture a few times with a potato masher or fork. Cook mixtures over medium-high heat until bubbling and sugar has dissolved; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes, until it has reduced by about one-third and is beginning to gel. Set both aside until completely cool.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut dough into four pieces. On a well-floured surface, roll the first piece out to about 12 inches by 6 inches. Place on cookie sheet. Spread about 1/4 cup of the cooled jam (fig, peach, or both) along half of the sheet of pastry, lengthwise (ie, the 12-inch side), leaving a 1/2-inch border along the edges. Fold the other, naked side of the pastry over the jam-spread side, and press down on edges to seal. Create tiny slits with a knife on surface of pastry, about 2 inches apart, to allow air to escape while baking. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, if desired. Repeat with remaining three sections of dough, ending with 2 pastries on each cookie sheet. Bake for 25 minutes, or until pastry is just beginning to turn golden.
Cool on cookie sheets for 10 minutes, then slice into bars. Try making one slice length-wise, then making 2-inch cuts horizontally, to mimic the size and shape of actual Fig Newtons. It’s important not to let them get too cool before slicing; otherwise, the pastry becomes too flaky, and doesn’t contain the filling as well. Similarly, don’t slice them straight out of the oven, or the filling will ooze out.