Monday, March 19, 2007

Mondays with Maida - Big Newtons

Page 206 in the old book / page 228 in the new book

Oh how I love these cookies! I've been making them every Father's Day for some years now, since my Dad is a big fan of filled cookies. In my opinion, this is about as good as it gets... a buttery whole wheat crust, fragrant with honey, surrounds a thick fig filling with hints of orange and lemon. So often with a filled cookie the pastry is just a handle for the filling, but with Maida's Big Newtons, the pastry and filling are equally matched. I can't imagine one without the other.

These really aren't difficult to make, if you have something to grind the figs with. I've always used the grinder attachment to my Kitchenaid mixer, but Maida indicates that a food processor could also be used. I can't imagine finely chopping all those sticky figs with a knife. The dough tends to crack here and there as you roll it, but it's easy enough to push it back together or even patch it, if need be.

Cookie trivia: Ever wonder why Fig Newtons are called Newtons? The cookies were introduced by the Kennedy Biscuit Works in 1891. The company was based in Cambridgeport and named its products after nearby towns - so Fig Newtons were named for Newton, Massachusetts. Read more about it here and here. Today the Kennedy Biscuit Works bakery is known as Kennedy Biscuit Loft - yup, it's been converted to condos! One of the ovens is still on display in a common area.

Sadly, the cookie panel is lacking in fig lovers. They were not nearly as fond of these cookies as I am. I was tempted to take editorial license and "correct" their scores, but instead I'll give these cookies the kudos they deserve in tomorrow's post on my favorite rolled cookies. Here's the panel... take what they say with a grain of salt :)

Suzanne: "I guess I’m not a big fan of Fig Newton cookies. I don’t like biting down on seeds. I like the sweet taste of the fig, but not the seeds (the same with raspberries). The fig filling was an inch thick. I only hope that we are not going into a month of different types of fig cookies. Rating - 1.5"

Laura: "The cookie part was very tasty. However the fig filling was a little too sweet and too thick. Rating - 3.0"

Denny: "Aptly named. They taste like FN's but better - more figs. However, I've never been keen on FN's so with a minus 1 for no chocolate, I'd give them a 2.0. Better than FN's but about average for a cookie from a great baker. Rating - 2.0"

Drucie: "The cookie portion was delicious, but the filling was overwhelming. I love sweets, but this filling was so sweet that I couldn't finish it. This cookie would have been great with about 1/3 of the filling. Rating - 2.8"

Overall rating by the panel - 2.3

That's the last of the rolled cookies - come back tomorrow to find out which were my personal favorites.

Next week - Fudge Mallows

Nutrition Facts


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to say I'm not much of a fig lover either. I never understood why people were so crazy about Fig Newtons. However, a friend nearly converted me after making her own homemade version. So, I guess what I'm saying is that if I had one of your cookies, I'd probably like it a heck of a lot more than the commercial ones. I guess there's just something about a homemade cookie that always tastes better. And good work with the figs - I know how sticky those things can be!

Nupur said...

I love figs, but don't like the commercial fig newtons much, the cookie is much too "mealy" tasting to my palate. But your home-made version looks luscious and delicious!
How sweet to have a cookie tradition for Father's Day, Cathy!

Cathy said...

Hi Mari! These cookies have a heavy dose of figs in them, so if you're not keen on figs, it might be a bit much. I've always loved Fig Newtons, but have only recently come to know and love figs in other forms - namely, fig jam and dried figs eaten out of hand. I've not yet acquired a taste for fresh figs, but maybe someday!

Hi Nupur! I bet you'd love these! My Dad has always been hard to buy for, so when I found something he enjoyed receiving year after year, I latched on to it!

karla said...


I love Maida, I own 4 of her books, but I have only tried the recepies with pictures, so I was thrilled to find your blog!!!

I don´t really like fig newtons, but my husband loves them and since we live in Mexico we can´t get them here.

Following your advice, I made the big newtons last week and my husband loved them!!

My dad and my brohters came for dinner and tried them as well and they also loved them.

So thank you for all the pictures and reviews.