Sunday, October 6, 2013

Whole Wheat Fig Bars

       I've always had a minor obsession with Fig Newtons.  

It's all about the fig filling.
 And the soft cookie exterior.
And the way the cookie just blankets the figs so perfectly and you can't imagine the pair ever being separated.

       Until I found out that my cross country buds liked fig bars, I didn't know anyone who liked Fig Newtons as much as I did.  Through them I discovered a whole wheat type of fig bar with all the "healthy" words on its packaging, which was great since Fig Newtons are pretty bad for you.

         So you may be wondering why I decided to make a different version I could easily buy a pack at a grocery store.  Well, for one thing, making things typically store bought is my idea of fun.  Another thing, my mom doesn't have a Costco membership to buy these whole wheat fig bars.  

        Also (says my inner health fanatic), processed foods are all somewhat unhealthy, and making your own food is better for you.

         I'm really happy with the way these turned out.  Just be aware that its one of those recipes that require chilling, rolling, cutting, and moving around thin pieces of dough, so it would be a good idea to turn your thermostat down (the Fig Newton factories have this advantage of having perfect climate control and machines to do the rolling and assembly). You also need patience.  Mine didn't look very good this time, but they tasted pleasant and I'm sure that next time they'll be a lot better.  

        First thing to do is make the whole wheat dough and refrigerate it for a couple of hours to firm up.  Then you start the filling, which will need to simmer for about 2 hours.  After the filling is cooled down, you roll out the dough, cut it into 3 strips, place some filling in the middle of each strip, fold the dough over the filling, cut the strips into squares, and bake the squares.  Then you get fig bars.  They turn out a little crunchy at first but get soft and chewy the next day. 


Whole Wheat Fig Bars

makes around 30 fig bars


For the dough:
7oz whole wheat flour
1oz oat flour (rolled oats blended until powdery)
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
4oz (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3-1/2 oz sugar
1oz brown rice syrup (or honey/corn syrup)
1 tsp orange zest
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1 tbs canola oil
1 oz fresh orange juice

For the filling:
1 heaping cup (a bit less that 6oz) dried figs, chopped (I used Calimyrna dried figs)
1-1/2 cups water
1 cup apple juice
1/2 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp orange zest


  1. Make the dough: Whisk together the flour, oat flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, brown rice syrup, and orange zest.  Beat in the vanilla, eggs, oil, and orange juice until well blended.  Slowly stir in the dry ingredients until well combined.  The dough will be soft.  Wrap in plastic wrap, pat into a disk, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  2. Make the fig filling: Place the dried figs, water, juice, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat so that it is at a simmer.  Let simmer, stirring occasionally for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, until it has a thick, jam-like consistency.  Leave at room temperature, refrigerate, or cool in an ice bath until it cools down.  Place the jam in a blender with the orange zest and blend until smooth.
  3. Assemble: Preheat the oven to 350*F. On a floured surface, roll out the chilled dough into a rectangle that is roughly 12x14".  Cut into 3 rectangles that are 4" wide. Spread a line of fig filling through the center of each strip of dough.  For each strip, fold one side of the dough over the filling, then fold the other side over that, enclosing the filling.  Roll the logs seam side down and place each onto a parchment lined baking sheet (I find it easier to move if you cut each log in half first). If you can, chill the dough.  Cut each piece into 30 smaller pieces and space them apart on the baking sheet.  Bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, until the edges are golden.  Let cool on wire racks.