Fresh, Homemade Fig Newtons

Summer is in full swing and the heat is on! Not many varieties of fruit trees produce ripe fruit in the dead heat of summer, especially during the 115°+ heatwave we get in the southwest each year.  Enter the fig tree.  It’s been around since the dawn of man.

The fig is a smallish tree that grows in more of a bush like way, with branches twisting, arching and growing downward. This gem of a tree produces hundreds of plump, sweet fruit each year, but not until the sun warms the earth enough to cook an egg on the asphalt. The fruit is enhanced by the late summer monsoons which imparts even more juicy sweetness.

In years past we’ve eaten the fruit from our Blackjack Fig, given it away, shared plenty with the hungry birds in the neighborhood, and composted the expired fruit, yet we still have more than we can consume.  This year I was determined to not let any go to waste.  Fresh fig newtons, an  Leftover fig preserves? Yes please!

Image of Fresh Fig Jam  Cooking In A Sauce Pan
Fresh Fig Jam For Homemade Fig Newtons

What makes a yummy fig newton?  Figs, of course. And a hint of lemon, and the gooeyness of the center. Then there is the shortbread cookie that is soft and not overly sweet, with a taste of vanilla. Add a dash of cinnamon and voila tastiness perfected.

Here is my recipe, give it a try and let me know what you did to put your spin on it, be sure to comment below!

Fig Mixture:

  • 15-20 Fresh Figs (I had a mix of small and medium size figs), chopped fine
  • 1/4 Cup Maple Syrup
  • Lemon Zest from 1 Medium Organic Lemon
  • Pinch of Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp Vanilla


  • 1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp Cream of Tartar
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 12 Tbs Butter
  • 3/4 Cup Maple Syrup
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 4 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 Tbs Lemon Zest

Remove butter and eggs from fridge to bring to room temperature.

Trim stems off figs. Chop figs into fine, small pieces. in medium saucepan add first four ingredients and bring to boil over medium-low heat, stir occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer just under an hour, stirring frequently.  Once mixture is thick, similar to jam, remove from heat. Once cool, add vanilla and mix. Note: if your figs weren’t very juicy you may need to add up to 1/4 cup of water while simmering.

Preheat oven to 350°. While simmering fig mixture, in a medium-size bowl whisk together the dry ingredients for shortbread.

In a large bowl, beat together softened butter, maple syrup, then add eggs and mix on medium-high for 2 minutes.  Add vanilla and lemon zest and mix well.

Gradually add flour mixture to large bowl of wet ingredients, mixing on low speed until well combined.

Take a large piece of parchment paper, spray it with cooking spray or wipe with olive oil.  Fold in half, oil sides together.  Grab about 1/4 of dough mixture and pat into a flat square-ish shape.  Place between oiled parchment. Cover bowl of dough and place in fridge. Roll dough in parchment, attempting to keep square shape, until dough is approximately 1/4” thick. Place in freezer for 5 minutes. Tip: Roll the dough/parchment on a cutting board, then pick up the board and stick the whole thing in the freezer.

Remove rolled dough from freezer, carefully peel back top layer of parchment, use a knife to cut dough in half. Spread fig jam on one half.  Carefully use knife to separate dough from parchment, place one half of dough on top of fig covered other half of dough.  Pinch edges together to seal shut.  You can also use dough from fridge to help seal up any cracks.  Slide cookies on to baking sheet.  Place baking sheet in oven.

Bake for about 25 minutes.  Remove from oven when shortbread is puffed up and just turning golden brown. Note: I baked in a large convection oven, on my back patio in 115° ambient temperature, so baking times may need to be adjusted.

Want fresh fig newtons year round?  If you have an overabundance of fruit, can it!

Giving fresh figs away is always a fun experiment.  Most people have never eaten a fresh fig before and aren’t really sure about what you are trying to feed them. Then they try a bite and either love it or hate the texture. Proceed with caution if you choose to give homemade fig newtons away (if you can get out of the house with them before they are all gobbled up) because you may end up with a horde of fig newton crazed people sleeping on your doorstep waiting for your next batch of cookies to be made. You’ve been warned.

Dani Jean

The author Dani Jean


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