It has its shortcomings to be sure, but if you know where to look, DC has a degree of liveliness and character one might not expect. You won't find it in whole neighborhoods, and certainly not anywhere close to the Mall or a Metro Station, which I can only assume is a defense mechanism against the hoards of tourists who overrun the city.
Look instead for a block with a tiny yoga studio, a quaint outdoor patio, and a small restaurant that doesn't take reservations. It's taken me years to find these nooks & crannies, and they're constantly shifting, so if you're from out of town, good luck. (For the record, my favorite spots are the H St. Corridor, Bloomingdale, and Del Ray, Alexandria).
Despite the throng of cherry blossom tourists, spring is one of my favorite seasons in DC (tied only with fall). The tulips are in bloom, the farmers markets are bustling, and most crucially, the humidity is low. It's magical. My Saturdays and Sundays have been completely occupied with yoga, long walks, and outdoor coffee drinking, so I apologize for the almost month-long silence since my last post! I know it doesn't sound like much of an excuse, but the outdoor time has dramatically improved my mental state. But, inspired by the warm weather and a craving for something fruity, I was finally able to pull myself back indoors. I feel I should also mention that it was also cloudy.
I recently ate my first Siggi's yogurt. I love experimenting with unexpected flavor combinations, so I beelined for the 4% Fig & Lemon Zest at Whole Foods. It was pretty life-changing, and I immediately incorporated the combination into everything I could think of, oatmeal, pancakes, and toast to name only a few. It was a carby weekend. Sunday afternoon, I finally had that "duh" moment, and set to work making these Lemon Zest Cream Cheese Fig Newtons. As humbly as I can say this, these are amazing. Over the past three days, I've eaten them for breakfast, snack, and dessert, and I'm still craving more.
The best part, they don't get old and gross as fast as other cookies because of their dense, cake-like texture. Sadly, they're almost gone so it doesn't even matter.
Lemon zest cream cheese fig newtons
(makes approximately 3 dozen)
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
3 1/2 ounces granulated sugar (1/2 cup sugar)
1 ounce honey (1.5 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons lemon juice (juice from 1/2 a lemon)
4 ounces whole wheat flour (1 cup)
2 ounces oat flour (1/2 cup)
2 ounces all purpose flour (1/2 cup)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 jar fig jam (Dalmatia is the way to go)
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 teaspoon lemon zest
- In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy,
- Beat in the honey, vanilla extract, and lemon zest until fully combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl.
- On slow speed, incorporate the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl after each new addition.
- Add the flours, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until just combined. The dough should be sticky.
- Wrap dough in plastic wrap and press into a disk.
- Refrigerate the dough for 3-4 hours.
- Once the dough is chilled, remove from the refrigerator and turn out onto a well floured surface.
- Roll out to approximately 1/4" thickness. The dough will continue to be sticky, so make sure you have enough flour and are moving it around as your roll it out.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
- Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 1 1/2" strips. Place half of the strips onto the parchment lined baking sheet. Make sure the remaining half match the length/width of the half on the baking sheet.
- In a small bowl, mix together the cream cheese and lemon zest. Place the cream cheese mixture in a piping bag fitted with a round tip
- Place the fig jam into a second piping bag fitted with a round tip.
- Pipe a thin layer of cream cheese along the length of the cookie dough strips on the baking sheet.
- Pipe a thicker layer of fig jam on top of the cream cheese.
- Carefully place the matching (unfilled) piece of dough on top of the fillings and gently press the edges and corners to form the fig newton.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the bottoms are golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool 3-4 minutes.
- Using a sharp knife, cut the strips into pieces (large or small depending on your preference).
- While they are still warm, place the fig newtons into a large ziploc bag and seal. This will essentially steam them and give them the soft, cake-like consistency of a fig newton. Cool completely.
- Store in an airtight bag or container for up to 10 days.
Recipe adapted from Serious Eat's Homemade Fig Newtons.