Did I really miss the entire Summer? It looks that way, as far as blogging goes, anyway. I'm sad to see the season end, but we had a fun few months and I am happy to get into Fall. I would have expected my first Fall post to be something made with apples or pumpkin, but instead I'm jumping back into the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats, hosted by Brenda from Meal Planning Magic. Each week, a group of bloggers will make a Christmas treat and post on Wednesdays. The idea is to slowly build your Christmas Cookie stash by storing them in the freezer as we go. If you'd like to join in, go to Brenda's blog and fill out the form. Or, if you're not a blogger, just bake along with the group!
I have a few recipes planned to make already, but some of them are going to require a bit more time than I had this week. I started browsing recipes for something simple and Christmasy. I found a lot of recipes with fruit and nuts. Dates, pecans, raisins, almonds, pistachios, figs...hmmm...figs? I don't normally eat figs and I've never had fig pudding, but I do like fig newtons. Combine that with the quickest type of cookie to make- bar cookies!
These were very easy to make, and I did take Tracey's suggestion of adding a bit of sugar to the figs as they cooked (1/4 cup). The cookie is soft and crumbly (not dry like the packaged cookies) and the filling is pretty much like the Fig Newton you're familiar with already. I found a variation on this recipe that uses a pint of raspberries in the filling in addition to the other ingredients listed. I'm sure that will be happening in my kitchen at some point, too.
Source: Tracey's Culinary Adventures
8 oz dried Turkish or Calimyrna figs, stemmed and quartered
2 cups apple juice
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang on opposite sides to lift the bars out. Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
Add the dried figs, apple juice and salt to a medium saucepan and set over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the figs break down and the mixture is soft and syrupy, about 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then add to the bowl of your food processor along with the lemon juice. Pulse until the mixture has a jam-like consistency.
Whisk both flours, the baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla, beating until completely incorporated. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture, beating just until combined. Measure out 3/4 cup of the dough and set aside. Transfer the remaining dough to the prepared pan and press into an even layer in the bottom.
Bake until the crust is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, roll the dough you set aside into an 8-inch square (it's easier if you do it between greased sheets of parchment). Place the square in the freezer until firm.
When the crust has finished baking, spread the fig "jam" evenly over it. Place the frozen square of dough on top. Bake for another 25-30 minutes, or until the top crust is golden brown. Transfer the pan to a wire rack, and let the bars cool completely, at least 2 hours. Use the foil to lift the bars out and cut them into squares for serving.