fresh fig bars
Figs will always bring to mind a late summer evening spent at an enchanting victorian house tucked just in the woods behind a sprawling pasture. Years ago, it was lovingly hacked to pieces and transported to be rebuilt at the end of bumpy dirt and gravel road out in the country. Wisteria creeps up the bright white siding towards a clay red roof; it sneaks through a second story window, weaving its way across the ceiling of an antique pink and pistachio bedroom. A wrap around porch, graced with high painted breadboard ceilings, traces the outline of a turret studded with jewel-toned window panes. I remember the porch swing and the rocking chairs; the peaceful crickets and the good company; bowls of fresh cherries and my first taste of a fresh Georgia fig.
This summer, I was grateful for a bounty of fresh figs from the tree of another lovely lady.
They’ve made their way into a fig, blueberry and almond cake; a fig and raspberry cheesecake; a simple but lovely spinach salad. And here, they found their way into some fig bars. I’m hoping to share them all here in a series, hopefully before the dreaded ADD sets in.
Fresh Fig Bars (cookie dough from here, I think)
1 pound fresh figs, cut in half
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup orange juice, or water with the juice of half a lemon
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 a cup sugar
1/2 a teaspoon orange zest, finely grated
1 large egg white
1/2 a teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
(1/2 a teaspoon freshly ground cinnamon plus a small pinch of nutmeg)
Using a spoon, scoop the flesh out of each fig half and add to a saucepan along with sugar and orange juice or water. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until thickened to a spreadable consistency. It will set up a little more as it cools. Transfer to refrigerator to chill with dough.
To make the dough: cream together the butter, sugar, and orange zest in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat 2-3 minutes on medium speed. Scrape; add egg white and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add flour along with spices and a small pinch of salt if you’d like; beat on low speed just until the dough comes together. Wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 and line cookie sheets with parchment or silpats.
On a floured surface, roll dough to a 12×16 rectangle. Cut into 4 equal strips, each 12×4. Spoon a line of fig filling down the center of each strip. Fold dough over filling and press the seam together. Flip over so the seam is facing down, and cut each log into 10 cookies. Transfer to cookie sheets.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, until they’re a very pale golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. The cookies will be more crisp on the first day, but will soften with age.