Figs are such delicate, delectable things. They seem so incredibly indulgent—so when my mom gave me the better part of 10 pounds this year, I longed to use them wisely.
Their delicate nature means they're only good fresh for a week (at best), so I had to use them up quickly and didn't have any time to make preserves.
Enter the hunt for a fig bar recipe. A good friend is a big fan of fig bars, and I thought a homemade version would be easy to find. Turns out, most recipes I turned to called for dried figs (since for most of the cooking public, those are so easy to come by). If you're in the market, this recipe for Grown Up Fig Bars over at 101 Cookbooks was a contender for the two-hour slot I had set aside for figs in the kitchen.
But what ended up winning was this recipe for homemade fig Newtons over at Our Italian Kitchen. I changed the recipe quite a lot, to include whole wheat and less sugar. Here's my take on it, which was so well received that I processed about 6 pounds of figs this same way, threw 'em in the freezer, and started taking orders for more.
Fresh Fig Bars
Adapted from Our Italian Kitchen
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup raw or turbinado sugar
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 large egg white
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup spelt flour
(alternately, you can use 1 1/2 cups AP flour, or 3/4 cup AP and 3/4 cup whole wheat)
2 lbs fresh figs
1/4 cup honey
Juice of half a lemon
1. Cream the butter, sugar and zest in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, for 2-3 minutes on medium speed until light and fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl.
2. Beat in the egg white and vanilla.
3. Next, add the flour in three portions and beat on low speed after each addition until the dough comes together.
4. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
5. While the dough is chilling, de-stem the figs. Toss the whole figs into the bowl of a food processor and process until pureed.
6. In a large saucepan, cook the fig puree, honey, and lemon juice over medium-low heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes. The mixture should be fairly thick and begin to gel as you cook it down. Set mixture aside until completely cool. If making these the next day, refrigerate the mixture overnight.
7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
8. Working with about 1/2 of the dough at a time, roll the chilled dough out on a floured surface. Cut into strips, each about 12 x 4 inches. Spoon a line of filling down the center of each strip. With the help of a dough scraper, carefully fold the dough over the filling and pinch the edges together. Using a serrated knife, slice each log into appropriately-sized cookies. Place each cookie on the parchment-lined baking sheets, seam side down.
9. Bake, rotating the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through, for 12-15 minutes, until golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a rack. Share with friends to make them love you.