Sweet ripe fig jam bars filled with melted chunks of rich dense bittersweet chocolate with a splash of brandy will transport you directly to heaven. You will never look the same way at a plain fig bar again. You may be thinking, how does she really feel about it???
The bars brown beautifully and just a small amount of the filling oozes out on to the parchment paper. Okay now for the fig bar recipe which I adapted from ‘Farmer’s Market Desserts’ by Jennie Schacht.
Ingredients and Directions for Fresh Fig Bars
Makes 30 bars
3 cups fresh figs, stemmed and quartered
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup mild flavored honey
2 tablespoons brandy
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chunks, to sprinkle on top of jam filling
1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water
Make the filling by combining the figs, sugar, honey, brandy, orange zest and salt in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Simmer for about 5 minutes or until the figs are falling apart and the liquid is thick.
Remove the filling from the heat and cool slightly. Purée with an immersion blender but leave it slightly chunky. If the filling doesn’t look thick enough continue to simmer for 5 more minutes. Set aside to cool.
Make the dough by stirring together the flours, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. In the bowl of a standing mixer beat together the butter, cream cheese and brown sugar on medium speed for about 5 minutes until light and creamy. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl. Add the vanilla. Using a wooden spoon mix in the flour mixture. It will form a stiff dough Transfer the dough to a floured surface and flatten it into a rectangle, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Roll out the dough between 2 sheets of lightly floured parchment paper into a 15X10 inch rectangle. Peel off the top sheet of parchment paper and trim the edges of the dough. With a sharp knife or pizza cutter cut the dough in 2 -15X5 inch strips. Without cutting through the dough, mark the half way point in each strip of dough.
Spread half the filling on each strip and sprinkle with chocolate chunks. Leave a 1/2 inch border around the sides of the strips. Slide the dough strips on the parchment paper on top of a baking sheet. Chill the dough if it seems sticky or soft. Using the parchment paper to help slide the plain side of the dough strip over the side with the filling and press it closed with your fingers. Carefully move one strip away from the other so they are about 1 inch apart.
Refrigerate the dough strips for about 30 minutes. Brush the tops with the egg wash and using a sharp knife cut the strips crosswise into 1 inch wide bars. Do not pull them apart!
Bake in a 350°F oven for 30-35 minutes.
Bake until golden brown. Cool the bars and break them apart where you cut them. Store at room temperature for up to three days or freeze.