Ah, figs. I think that I’ve always loved figs. By grandma has a huge Green Fig tree that produces beautiful, unbelievably sweet, red-centered fruit. I used to climb its branches as high as I could, helping her pick the figs ready for harvest. What great memories. I’m sure I could still climb the tree, but I don’t know if I could make it as high. I might break some branches. I’ve done some growing in the past 8 or 10 years, you see.
Fig bars, however, are a different story. My dad used to pack me those Fig Newtons for lunch, and I was never really a huge fan. They just didn’t taste good for some reason. Recently, though, as I’ve begun to crave things that I never really liked before, I’ve been wanting to have some Fig Newtons. Unfortunately, according to the packaging, there are hydrogenated oils in Fig Newtons and because of this, I’ve been avoiding them and haven’t been able to satisfy my craving for the past few months.
And then I ran across this recipe! Hoorayyyyy, I can make them at home, and they appear to be healthy! Who knows if they actually are, but whole wheat, dried figs, and sweetened with honey rather than sugar sounds pretty darn convincingly healthy to me. So I gave them a try, and they turned out great. Wonderfully satisfying, although as I’ve stated below, I think that a little honey could be omitted from the filling to make them less sweet. Other than that, I loved every bit of them. The cookie outside was especially good. Soft, lightly sweet, and compliments the figs very nicely. I will be making these again, and adjusting the recipe to experiment with different fillings and things.
So, I recommend these if you like dried figs. Even if you don’t like dried figs, I recommend them. You might not like them, but I’m sure somebody you know will, and then you can share, making someone else happy.
Honey Wheat Fig Bars
1& 1/4 Cups Honey, divided
1/2 Cup Butter, at room temperature
1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Pound Dried Figs (about 2 1/4 cups, chopped)
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
2 teaspoons Lemon Zest
1/2 Cup Chopped Pecans or Walnuts (optional)
In a medium bowl, cream 3/4 cup of the Honey with the Butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the Egg. Add the Flour, Baking Powder, and Baking Soda and combine. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for about 2 hours, until firm (or overnight).
Meanwhile, in the bowl of a food processor with a metal blade, combine the remaining 1/2 cup of Honey (I felt that the filling could have been a little less sweet, so maybe cut back to 1/3 cup or 1/4 cup honey if you’d like), the Figs, Lemon Juice, Lemon Zest, and Chopped Nuts (if you’re using them). Process until the figs are finely chopped. Set aside.
When the dough is well chilled, dust a work surface and the dough with some flour. Working quickly, roll the dough to 1/4 inch thick. With a sharp knife, trim the dough into two 14×6-inch rectangles.* Dough trimmings can be used to make cutout cookies (or saved to make more bars!)
Spread half the fig mixture evenly down the center of one dough rectangle. Gently fold the right side of the rectangle over the filling, then fold the left side over the right so they overlap. Pinch the ends to seal. Repeat with the remaining rectangle and the fig mixture. Carefully place the dough logs seam-side down on a greased baking sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes, or until the logs are lightly browned. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven, allowing the logs to cool for 5 minutes on the sheet. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Cut into bars (we cut 1 inch bars, but that was because ours were so side. A less wide bar could be cut to 2 or 3 inches)
*Our bars came out much wider than expected. They were great this way – I actually think that I prefer them to the traditional squarer shape – but if you want them to be narrower so that you can cut them to be reasonably-sized square bars, you might want to roll the dough out to 14 by 4 inches or something.