I love Fall like a dog loves bacon. Like Freud loves his mother. Like Pooh loves honey.
Today in New York we’re in the mid-70s. Hello Fall! Maybe that’s why I’m all up in Fall’s business with lunchbox treats these days. But Newtons are a code I’d been planning to crack for a long, long time. I didn’t want to get it wrong.
You don’t wanna mess with nostalgia, and get it wrong, you know?
I have no particularly fond memories of fig Newtons, truth be told. In fact, my first Newton was almost undoubtedly an apple Newton. But since I’m saving all of my best apple recipes for later, I went with cherry-filling. Adding some dried plums (okay, prunes, but dried plums sounds a whole lot more appetizing, on account of the function which prunes are known to serve) to the filling helps create just the right consistency.
Be sure not to roll the dough out too thin, or you won’t get the proper soft-but-toothsome *bite* in your cookies. The dough is moist, so you will get the cleanest results in folding it over the filling by using the parchment paper, rather than trying to peel the rolled-out dough from the paper (see top right photo above).
And they cut nice and clean when you freeze the filled dough before slicing it with a sharp knife.
Rather than going through the trouble of making a more authentic filling, like in the recipe below, you could always just use a thick, seedless jam as filling. It won’t taste exactly the same, but you won’t likely hear any complaints from the peanut gallery. I sure didn’t. ;)
Fruit Newton-style Cookies
1 1/2 cups (200g) dried cherries
1/2 cup (80g) dried prunes
1 tablespoon (21g) honey or Lyle’s Golden Syrup
1-2 tablespoons tepid water
2 1/2 cups (350g) high-quality all-purpose gluten-free flour
1 1/4 teaspoons xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (55g) packed light brown sugar
8 tablespoons (112g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 extra-large eggs at room temperature, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, place the dried cherries, dried prunes and honey or Lyle’s. Turn on the food processor and puree until smooth. The mixture should be thick but spreadable. If it seems too thick to spread, add tepid water by the tablespoon and pulse to combine until you reach the desired consistency.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line rimmed baking sheets with unbleached parchment paper and set them aside.
In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, salt, granulated sugar and light brown sugar, and whisk to combine well, working out any lumps in the brown sugar. Add the butter, eggs and vanilla, and mix until a dough comes together. Knead briefly until smooth. Divide the dough in thirds. Place one third of the dough in between two sheets of unbleached parchment paper and roll into a rectangle approximately 9-inches by 12-inches, and slightly less than 1/4 inch thick. Remove the top sheet of parchment paper and trim any rough edges with a pastry cutter.
Place one-third of the dried fruit mixture in the center of the rectangle and spread lengthwise across the center third of the rectangle. Gently lift one long portion of the bottom sheet of parchment paper and use it to fold the dough over the filling. Peel back the parchment paper and repeat with the other side of the dough, overlapping the dough. Place the filled dough in the freezer for about 10 minutes or until firm enough to slice easily. Repeat with the remaining 2 pieces of dough and remaining 2/3 of the filling.
Remove the filled pieces of dough from the freezer and slice each in cross-section into 8 cookies. Place the cookies, seam-side down, on the prepared baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Place the baking sheet in the center of the preheated oven and bake, rotating once during baking, until the cookies are puffed, light golden brown around the edges and pale golden on top, about 17 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on baking sheets.
Serve at room temperature. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for about a week. Freeze any remaining leftovers.