Thursday, September 19, 2013

Fresh Fig Bars

We planted a mission fig tree in the backyard of the first house we lived in when we got married.  That tree was meaningful to us - when it didn't grow and bear fruit, right away we worried . . . a fig tree that withers is never a good sign.  Then, it bore fruit.  Much fruit.  The branches weren't sturdy enough to hold the weight of the neighborhood squirrels so our harvests were plentiful.  I love to eat fresh figs just plain but with so many, I started to look for other ideas.

Many recipes that I found called for dried figs, not fresh ones.  But, there were two recipes that became big hits around our house and one was for these fig bars.  We moved from that house in 2008 and since then, I haven't had a good supply of fresh figs.  But, this year my mother in law started bringing me figs from her ranch and I dug through my gigantic 3 ring binder of old recipes in search of this recipe.  I have made some tweaks to the original recipe (although I have no idea where it was from) and was super happy with how this batch turned out.

GF note:  Because these bars aren't cake-like and there isn't any leavening, I think that almond meal would work fine in place of the all purpose flour.

Fresh Fig Bars (makes appx. 30 bars)

1 cup sugar
8oz fresh figs washed and stems removed
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Crust and topping:
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened (+ 1-2 T for topping)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour, divided
1 3/4 cups rolled oats
1/3 c. raw sliced almonds (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Roughly chop the figs (leave the skin on).   Combine sugar, figs, and water in a medium saucepan.  Heat to boiling.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until thickened, stirring often (mixture will still be runny).  At this point, I like to use my immersion blender to make the mixture smooth (it will still have the seeds).  A blender will also work or you can leave it like it is if you don't mind the chunks of skin (or if your kids aren't picky like mine).  Set the filling aside to cool.

Cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Add salt and vanilla and mix until well blended.  Stir in 1 3/4 cups flour and the oats until well mixed and crumbly.  It will seem dry but spread 2/3 of the flour mixture evenly on a ungreased 9x13 pan.  Pat it down well.  Spread fig filling evenly on top.  Add 1/4 cup flour to the remaining flour mixture.  Crumble and spread all over the top.  Sprinkle almonds on top (if desired).  Dice 1-2 tablespoons of cold butter in really small pieces and sprinkle over the top of the crust.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until light brown.  Cool in pan and cut into bars.  

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