My grandmother is a wonderful cook and even better baker. Her chocolate chip cookies are unmatchable (believe me, I’ve tried) and her cinnamon rolls dreamy. Yet, the treats that I most remember devouring in her warm, cozy kitchen did not come from her oven at all. No, what I most remember eating during our frequent grandma tea parties (complete with tiny cups of tea) are vanilla wafers and fig newtons. It seemed like she had a never-ending supplies of these delicacies to share with her numerous grandchildren. I’ve seen several recipes for homemade fig newtons on various blogs and Pinterest pages, but my strong childhood attachment to the “original” Nabisco fig cookies have kept me from trying them. After all, what could be better than the cookies I ate in my grandma’s kitchen as a little girl, whether they came from her oven or from a box? My food memories tend to be so strong that I was just sure homemade fig newtons couldn’t live up to those childhood memories. However, when I saw this recipe for Fig Keplers on food52.com last week, I knew I had to try them. They looked so soft and deliciously figgy that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try this homemade version of my childhood favorite.
When I started this comparison, I kind of assumed that the homemade fig cookies would be quite expensive compared to the store bought because of the cost of figs. However, it turns out that the homemade version was slightly cheaper per dozen. The homemade fig kepler recipe makes 4 dozen cookies for $5.58 which makes them $1.39 per dozen. The store bought fig newtons typically come in boxes of 2 dozen and cost $2.99 making them $1.49 per dozen. They were so close in price that price doesn’t really make a difference in this comparison. Time, however, is another matter. The recipe I used for fig keplers requires the dough to be chilled for several hours and then the cookies are cooled in zip top bags to make sure the cookie component stays nice and soft. So, with mixing, chilling, baking and cooling, these cookies require several hours of preparation.
That being said, the homemade fig cookies were worth every minute of preparation! I was completely surprised at how much better these cookies tasted than the store bought version. They kept the basic essence of a soft, chewy fig newton but had a fresher, sweeter, more figgy flavor than the original. The store bought fig newtons, when tasted right next to the homemade ones, had a slightly bitter after taste and the cookie part seemed too dry and crumbly. I literally couldn’t eat the rest of the store bought box of fig newtons after tasting the homemade version! I was completely surprised by this outcome, but several other tasters confirmed my impressions. Everyone described the homemade fig keplers as tasting fresher and having a better, juicier fig flavor than the store bought cookies. As an added bonus, the homemade fig keplers have no artificial ingredients or preservatives, which makes me feel better about feeding them to my kids.
Bottom Line: Whether you love the original, store bought fig newtons or not, these homemade fig cookies are worth a try. Despite being time consuming, they are really not difficult to make and the resulting cookies are beyond delicious.