There is something really satisfying about the crunch of seeds as you bite into a fig bar. I have always wanted to know the secret to making them; how does the dough fit so perfectly around the filling, apparently without seams, and without the filling all running out and bubbling onto the cookie sheet in the oven? At last I ran across a recipe from Pearl Bakery in Portland, Oregon. This is a loosely translated version of it – I changed it here and there based on what I had to work with combined with what goodies I like in my cookies. It is exotic, spicy, and rich, with the flavors of chocolate and spices and dried fruits. Not really anything like the fig bars you get in the stores.
Even though my goal was to re-create the storebought ones, these turned out so much better that they are even more than I was hoping. I hope you have fun making these, and enjoy sharing them with your family and friends.
• 2 cups dried figs, chopped
• 2/3 cup raisins
• 1 cup toasted pecans or walnuts, chopped
• Grated zest of an orange
• 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
• 1/4 cup cocoa powder
• 1 tsp nutmeg
• 1 tsp ground coriander
• 1/2 tsp ground cloves
• 3/4 cup honey
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 2 1/4 cups flour
• 2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 10 Tbsp cold butter, cut up into chunks
• 1 egg
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 1 egg, beaten until frothy
Sugar dough: in a large bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, salt, and baking powder. Add the cold butter and cut with a pastry cutter. You may add the butter at room temperature if you wish, it is easier; you can cut it in with a fork. In the bowl of a blender, mix the egg and vanilla, then add the flour/butter mixture, stir and press with your hands as needed until mixed. Pour out onto a board and press into a flat square about 7 inches across. Place in a bowl or pan and cover with a plate; refrigerate for at least one hour before rolling out.
Fig filling: put the chopped figs in a saucepan and add water until just covered. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat, let figs cool. Drain, then add currants, nuts and zest. Chop the entire mixture finely. Add to the remaining ingredients in a bowl, and stir until thoroughly combined.
Make the fig bars: On a flat, floured surface, roll out the dough to a 12 by 16 – 1/4 inch rectangle. For perfect bars, measure with a ruler and trim off excess. Cut the dough into 5 strips, each 12 inches by 3 – 1/4 inches wide. Cut parchment into 12 by 4 inch strips, then lay a strip of dough on each piece of parchment. Working on the parchment will make the next step much easier. Fill a pastry bag with the filling, use no tip, and squeeze the filling down the center of each strip of dough. Wet the edges of the dough, pull the edges together and pinch sealed. This is easy to do. Roll the cylinders over gently, rocking back and forth a bit to develop the slightly flattened form, leaving the seam on the bottom. Place on the cookie sheet and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Preheat oven to 400. Remove bars from refrigerator and cut into 2” lengths. Place on a cookie sheet with one inch spacing between them. Brush with the egg glaze. Bake for 12 – 14 minutes until deep golden brown. Remove from cookie sheet and cool on cookie racks.