On a recent visit to Oregon I was introduced for the first time to fresh figs straight off the tree. I’ve never been much of a fig eater before other than as a kid occasionally eating Fig Newtons. These fresh figs were amazing and inspired me to try to make my own version of the famous fig cookie bars using fresh figs and a more paleo perspective on the approach to the recipe. The result of my initial experiment was quite good but absolutely nothing like the bar I was trying to imitate. The secret, I later discovered, is using dried figs and adding a touch of cinnamon and orange into the mix. If you want to try making these with fresh figs I have included directions at the bottom of this post. Otherwise, be prepared for a wonderful taste you’ve probably not enjoyed for a long time…
Paleo Fig Cookie Bars
Makes about 16 bars
Ingredients For the filling:
- 2 cups (about 12 oz.) dried figs, roughly chopped*
- ¼ cup water
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Ingredients For the cookie layers:
- 4 cups almond meal
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
- Rind from 1 orange
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 tablespoons coconut oil or butter
- Start by making the filling. Place chopped figs, water, and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse several times to break down the mixture. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Turn the processor on for 30 seconds to a minute, or until the mixture is smooth. You should still have lots of little seeds in the mixture but the skins and the rest of the fruit will have created a paste-like consistency. Remove from food processor bowl and set aside.
- Place all of the dry ingredients, including the orange rind, into the food processor. Pulse several times, until the mixture is consistent.
- Add the egg, vanilla, coconut oil and honey, and blend just until combined. The dough should come together enough to be able to form a ball. If your dough is too dry, add a tablespoon or so of water. If it is too wet, add more almond meal a tablespoon at a time.
- Divide the dough into two equal parts, cover, and refrigerate for at least an hour.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Prepare a 9 x 13 inch pan by greasing it with coconut oil. You can also use a smaller pan if you want thicker fig bars.
- Lay a piece of cellophane on a work surface and place one of the dough halves on top. Press down on the dough with your palm to form a disc. Cover with a second piece of cellophane.
- Roll out the dough between the layers of cellophane into a rectangular shape large enough to cover the bottom of the pan.
- Remove the top layer of cellophane and gently slide the dough that is still attached to the remaining cellophane lengthwise onto the rolling pin. Carefully flip the dough and position onto the bottom of the pan. Peel off the cellophane and trim any excess dough around the edges, patching any tears or holes as necessary.
- Evenly spread the fig mixture over the top of the dough.
- Repeat the same process with the second piece of dough.
- Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the top of the dough just starts to brown on the edges.
* To make these with fresh figs: Use 2 pounds of figs. Roughly chop the figs and place in a saucepan with ¼ cup water and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Bring to a boil, lower temperature, and cook until the mixture has thickened. (When I made these using fresh figs the filling never thickened to anywhere near the same consistency as with dried figs. Also, the flavor when using fresh figs is a lot mellower and very different from how you might expect a fig bar to taste – although, still very good.) Once thickened, remove from heat and set aside to cool. Continue with the recipe as is.