“A cookie is just a cookie, but a Newton is fruit and cake.”

Growing up Lindsay and I were lucky to spend a lot of time with both sets of our grandparents.  We would visit Grandma and Grandpa Ryan in Bristol, CT on Saturdays or stay the night when mom and dad had a party to go to.  We would play UNO, monopoly, roller skate in the basement and eat lots of ice cream sundaes.  We would spend the occasional  Friday or Saturday night at Grandma Kate and Papa Henry’s in Winsted, CT when mom and dad would go out to the Gilson, a dinner movie theater that they enjoyed.  There we would play Scrabble, put together puzzles, drink soda out of retro plastic cups – Rootin Tootin Raspberry and Lefty Lemon, and eat FIG NEWTONS.

Now many might think that ice cream sundaes trump FIG NEWTONS but I beg to differ.  As I have gotten older and my food pallet has gotten more sophisticated I have fallen in love with dried figs, to be honest I don’t care that much for fresh ones.  I don’t really think I knew what a fig was when I was first offered them but they were the sweet of choice and I wasn’t going to turn it down.  The distinct flavor and texture of a FIG NEWTON brings me right back to those evenings around the kitchen table on Walnut St. with Lindsay, Grandma and Papa.  It brings back the memory of how incredibly caring and fun my grandparents are, how they enjoy spending time with us and gave us the opportunity to talk with them and enjoy their company.  Sometimes just the words FIG NEWTON are like a time machine!!

The dessert preference of the Tirrell side of the family leans more towards what I would call “savory sweet” and not “super sweet”.  Rarely is chocolate found on their holiday table.   Earthy tones of pumpkin, spices, nuts and fruit are what they crave when it comes to the end of the meal.  We always split out holiday celebrations and would eat dinner with my mother’s family in Bristol, then arrive at the Tirrell’s for a second round of dessert.  My Dad always stepped right up for his helping of mincemeat pie, although I was intrigued “the picky eater” in me won over and I would pass.  These days with “the picky eater” long since kicked to the curb, I find myself drawn to those warm spices and dried fruits in my dessert too.   I recently saw a recipe in one of Edna Lewis’s books for mincemeat pie – the homemade kind not the canned one my family is accustom to.   I can’t help but get excited to learn how to recreate a special treat and memory from my childhood.  They mean so much to me, these cookies embody my family.

I found the recipe for these in my aforementioned Martha Stewart Cookie Book that I received for Christmas.  I tweaked it a bit, using whole wheat pastry flour instead of all-purpose, I added 2 tablespoons of candied ginger to the fig filling and I used large Turkish figs.  The recipe is available on the Martha Stewart website. Whether or not you have a special memory associated with FIG NEWTONS or you have never had one, I recommend this recipe with great enthusiasm!!!  (If you have never had one I even advocate that you go out and buy a package  – just one)  These keep well and are even better the second day.  A perfect treat for a winter afternoon, with a cup of tea and a good book.

Fun FIG NEWTON fact : They are named after Newton, MA.

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  1. Megan

     /  February 4, 2010

    HEATH! I love fig newtons too! I can’t tell you what that yellow foil does to me when I see it in the store. I’m making these this weekend for sure. You’re the best! This was such a nice post.

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