Homemade Fig Newtons
for the fig filling:
1 1/2 pounds dried Calimyrna figs
1 cup water
1/2 cup apricot preserves
1/4 dark rum
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
for the cookie dough:
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
for the filling:
Use kitchen scissors to snip the stems from the figs, and snip each fig into 5 or 6 pieces. In a large sauce pan, combine the figs, water, apricot preserves, rum, cinnamon, and cloves. Stir to mix well.
Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce the heat to low and let the filling simmer until thickened, but not extremely thick, about 10 minutes. Cool the filling and purée it in a food processor with a metal blade. You can refrigerate both the filling a dough for a couple of days if you’re preparing in advance.
for the cookie dough:
Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse several times to mix.
Add the butter and pulse repeatedly until the butter is finely mixed in, but the mixture is still cool and powdery. Add the eggs and vanilla and pulse repeatedly until the dough forms a ball.
Invert the bowl onto a floured work surface and carefully remove the blade. Briefly knead the dough 2-3 times to make it smooth.
Divide the dough into 6 pieces and roll each into a rope about 12″ long. Place 1 rope on a floured work surface and press and roll it to make a rectangle of dough about 4′ wide and 12″ long. Pipe or spoon about 1/6 of the filling down the middle of the dough, spreading it about 2″ wide with a small offset spatula. Use a pastry brush to paint the exposed dough with water, then lift up the dough all around to enclose the filling within a tube of dough. Pinch the seam closed where the 2 edges of the dough meet. Turn the filled piece of dough over so that the seam is on the bottom and transfer it to one of the prepared pans. Repeat with the remaining dough, placing 3 filled dough cylinders on each pan. Gently flatten the cylinders of dough with the palm of your hand.
When you are ready to bake the cookies, set the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat to 350℉. Bake the cookies until the dough is set and golden, 15-20 minutes. About halfway through the baking, place the pan from the lower rack on the upper and vice versa, turning the pans back to front at the same time.
Cool the cookies on the pans. When they are cool, trim the edges and use a sharp knife to cut them into 2 1/2″ lengths.