Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Homemade Fig Bars (Tutorial 101)

My childhood would not have been complete without my daddy's addiction for fig bars. I don't think I would look at him with the same cute smile if I didn't know he had a weakness for something as simple as a sleeve of figgy bars. There is in fact, nothing on earth that makes me miss him more than seeing a garden full of new seedlings...and a package of fig bars.

So, that being said, today I wanted to show a whole grain, whole food alternative to the premade bars. It will of course, start with some figs. These are dried figs that have soaked 2-3 hours in warm water. I also like to soak them in juice for a slightly different flavor. Pick a juice...any juice.

Once soaked they will start to look tomatoes...but brown with smaller seeds.
Fig filling:
1 lb dried organic figs
1/2 cup honey or rice syrup
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tsp ground ginger
2tsp vanilla
1/3 cup UltraGel or 1/3 cup corn starch (only use corn starch if you don't plan on home canning the filling)

water or juice (about 3 cups)
Soak the figs in the juice or water for 2-3 hours. Drain juice and discard. Mash fruit with a fork fine or use a meat grinder. I prefer the grinder method. This meat grinder had never been used on meat. Isn't that weird? Just a random fact I'm sure you wanted to know about.

You will end up with this mass of mashed goodness.
Combine all the filling ingredients in a large pan.
Cook until thick over medium heat, about 10 minutes. This will make 3-4 cups of filling. I always make extra and home-can it for use later. Boiling water bath method, 10 minutes.
One cup of filling will make a batch of fig bars. Take that filling and set it aside. You may need to add 1-2 Tablespoons more of the UltraGel to the filling, depending on how thick you want the stuff. I like mine pretty firm...so I add a little more. This works amazingly well for any other kind of jam as well if you want to turn it into a filling for cookies or bars.

My fig bar dough:
1/2 cup butter, softened or 1/2 cup Chocolate Infused Certified Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup honey
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
3 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour ( I used spelt flour today)

Take honey and butter...and send the honey cliff diving. Wait. I guess the diving is optional. If you use the Chocolate infused olive oil...be prepared for the heavenly flavor...and try not to drink the bottle. I have to hold myself back. It's divine!
Combine the honey, vanilla and soft butter or chocolate olive oil until smooth.
I think I could bathe in this junk. I mean...who wouldn't want to just have their ankles in this stuff?

Add the egg, baking soda and salt. Mix until combined. Add the flour.

Stir by hand about 2 minutes, until a soft but slightly firm dough is formed.
Heavily flour your counter top or work surface. The dough will be rather soft and I don't want any stickin'.
Flour the top of the dough as well.
With a rolling pin, roll dough out until it is about 1/4 inch thin and in the shape of a large rectangle.

Transfer your figgy filling into a pastry bag. That's a cake decorating bag for you who don't know. I have a lot of new students who have no idea what the real name for things could be.

Slice the dough all the way through, 2 1/2 inches wide, all the length of the rolled out dough.

Squeeze the filling out down the center of the dough strip.

The filling should be about 1/2 inch tall and 3/4 inch wide, the full length of the strip.

Very carefully fold the sides around the filling and lightly pinch the dough at the center seam.
Depending on how well you floured your work surface, you may need to use some persuasion in getting the dough up off the board. I've found the use of a small sharp steak knife to be very effective at this. Also good at getting gum off my dashboard. Not that we have that issue.

Once you have sealed all the strips of dough around the filling,

Take a thin metal spatula and cut the filled dough logs to fit just about the length of the spatula.

Gently ease the spatula under the bar to transfer it to a baking sheet. Oven should be pre-heated to 375 degrees.

Flip the bar so it's seam side down on an ungreased heavy baking sheet. Leave about an inch of space between bars. Keep the bars as long as possible when baking. Bake 10-12 minutes.
When still hot, cut with a sharp knife into cookie size bars.

Transfer to a cooling rack if desired.

When cooled, place in an air tight container or wrap tightly in individual snack baggies.
There you go. Homemade fig bars.


mlebagley said...

Seriously?! I'm drooling. AGAIN. These look delicious, and healthy too! Yummo.... Great tutorial!

Mike Roberts said...

I too have a weakness for fig bars, these look fabulous! need to try this recipe out on an upcoming weekend

E. Studnicka said...

To hell with Fig Newtons! This is the real deal!

Anna Marie said...

Would this work with fresh figs? If so, how many pounds do you recommend for the filling?

Chef Tess said...

Yes! Fresh fig jam is beauty! Here's the link for that tutorial here on my blog:http://cheftessbakeresse.blogspot.com/search/label/fig%20jam