Fresh Fig Bars with Bittersweet Chocolate Chunks and Brandy

Several years ago at a restaurant in Boston my husband Scott and I shared a fresh fig and bittersweet chocolate tart. The memory of it and the desire to use fresh figs and chocolate together in a pastry has been with me during every fig season since that time. Being that it is that time of year again I decided to grab the figs and go for it once and for all! I’ve only made fresh fig bars once and I made them for a party at a friend’s home. The recipe called for lemon thyme and I guess I either got a little carried away with the quantity of thyme in the fig bars or my lemon thyme was really strong. Anyway, the fig bars were so herbal tasting I thought they were horrible, everybody was eating them and I was just smiling and acting like they were delicious.

I think figs are beautiful just plain in a bowl but fig jam is so good and in this recipe you make a thick fig jam with brandy, honey and orange zest for the filling of the bars. I doubled the filling recipe so I would have extra to put on toast or in plain yogurt for breakfast. I also doubled up on the brandy, I like to be generous with the bandy so I can really smell and taste it in the jam.


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 dough recipe I used is a delight to work with especially after the difficulties I had with my pie dough last week. It was so easy to handle but I was a little worried after I read the directions for rolling out the dough and forming the fig bars. Anytime you see written, chill it multiple times, the dough may resist, have patience, carefully peel, carefully shimmy, using the parchment as an aid, if the dough has gotten soft or sticky refrigerate again, you get the idea. The key is to follow the directions, flatten the dough into a rectangle, refrigerate for at least one hour and you’re half way home.

The dough is rolled out into a large rectangle, cut in half, spread with fig jam and sprinkled with chunks of bittersweet chocolate.

This is where some of the chilling, shimmying, peeling and using the parchment as an aid takes place, it is so worth 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

Filling

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

Dough

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.

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Comments

  1. These look luscious.

  2. Hey Patty,

    This sounds like an absolutely wonderful fig bar! I love the addition of brandy. I never tried a fig until this year. Let's just say, it was love at first bite. I was blown away by the sweetness and texture. I don't know what took me so long to try one. Your bars look perfectly browned and chewy. I'd love a bite of that right about now. Thank you for sharingvthis lovely recipe. Now I can dream of figs tonight, teehee.

  3. Patty – these look absolutely supreme! My husband would love these. He is a sucker for a cookies and a good brandy. Yours has everything all rolled up into one. Nice job and great photos!

  4. Mr.Newton…stand back…because you've got nothing on Patty's Fig bars. LOL
    How wonderful are these…not only do you have one of my favourite fruits…you doubled up on the spirit…chunked in the chocolate and also gave us a simple dough to work with. You're absolutely great!!!
    I'm so making these since this week we may just be in time for the latest figs ;o)

    Have a fabulous week,
    Claudia

  5. You just took fig newtons to an entirely new level! They look delicious.

  6. Would you look at those! Wow, they look so yummy and just melt in your mouth good. What a great post!

  7. I am completely and utterly in love with this recipe. Also quite in love with you for sharing it with us. The love is as thick in the air as the fig jam in these bars :D

  8. Luv this! I would make extra jam/filling for later as a spread. I wonder if dried figs would do when figs are outta season. Great looking recipe…can't wait to try it!

  9. These are so impressive! I love the flaky crust!

  10. These fig bars look and sound scrumptious! What an awesome way to kick up a plain fig bar!

  11. I love this fig filling…sounds really great!

  12. WOW! This looks so great. Congrats on such a wonderful recipe. I wish I could take a bite right now.

  13. Patty! I've recently fallen in love with Figs in SF haha. Yes I have. How could I not explore it sooner?! Anyway, absolutely love these especially a touch of bittersweet chocolate. The photos are terrific. The bring everything to life!

  14. My mom has a fig tree and loves figs. She is looking for a recipe for her couple's bunco next week, I'm going to suggest this to her!

  15. Wow, homemade fig bars…look so yummie, I am sure that taste much nicer than the store bought ones. Nice photos as well :-)

  16. Yummm, figs and chocolate, what an amazing combination. Looks delicious.

  17. What a daring flavor combination! I am so intrigued–chocolate and figs. You've got my wheels turning!

  18. These are fantastic…great flavors :)

  19. These fig bars sound fantastic with the chocolate chunks and brandy addition – an amazing combination!

  20. Patty,
    Last week you inspired me to make a peach pie, and this week you inspire me to make some outstanding fig bars. I'm receiving a shipment of figs tomorrow, and this is one recipe I will be trying over the weekend. Thank you for sharing with me. Your words and creations are always beautiful!

  21. Miam!! Trop top:))xxx

  22. Believe it or not, my husband and I were just talking about making homemade fig newtons. And low and behold, here is the recipe! This version sounds delicious. I am always a fan of adding some spirits into my cooking!

  23. OMG Patty! The photos are so beautiful and the recipe well let's just say I am very excited to see and to try it. I love figs and have been thrilled that they are finally in season, last year we used and ate so many both fresh and dried. Thank you so much for posting this I'm going to surprise my husband with your Fig bars :)

  24. A gorgeous recipe. The addition of brandy is genius. Bravo!

  25. Fig newtons are actually one of my favorite cookies. No one else agrees so I never eat them, but if I made them they would be all mine them, HA! I love the addition of chocolate, always makes it better :-) I am excited and a little nervous to work with figs, thanks for the recipe!

  26. I never liked fig newtons, but I could get behind these. They look fabulous!

  27. Beautiful combination of flavors and great recipe. Awesome photos too!

  28. That jam sounds great, I'm not sure I'd be able to bake with it. I'd probably just eat it with a spoon!

  29. Wow Patty, I've been thinking of making fig bars too, but I never thought about adding chocolate and brandy. That sounds so good! Oh, and your photos are beautiful here, Patty. I love the look of that bowl of figs…

  30. These are like Fig Newtons, only better! Totally taken to the next level! Great job! Sounds delicious. :)

  31. OMG, those look fantastic! A wonderful filling made with fresh figs.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  32. Wow, our family loves newtons but the two chocolate lovers would probably fight over these. And, my daughter ::ahem:: could use a dose of figs (or prunes) right about now. :/

  33. Wow….chocolate and brandy in a fig bar. Sounds like a winning combination!

  34. Chocolate and brandy – a brilliant addition that elevates the fig cookie (dare I say Newton) to the stratosphere! Love it and your beautiful photos.

  35. Oh, what a great combination! just looking at that melting chocolate, it makes me hungry! Great photos.

  36. These look wonderful, Patty! I love all the flavors in that tart.

  37. Beautiful fig bars! I just had my first fresh fig ever this past week, and now to see them paired with chocolate…yum!

  38. Figs aren't for everyone, but I still don't think they get enough credit. They work so well in sweet and in savory recipes. Whenever I visit a tapas restaurant I always scan for a fig dish first, too.

    Your fig bars look outstanding. So glad I found you through Monet's site!

  39. Patty,
    Oh my goodness, those figs look just like the ones we had from our fig tree in the back yard. I can eat them all day long, right off the tree, just have to get them before the birds find out!
    And the fig bars, when is the next batch going to be ready, my mouth is watering now!

    Bon appetit,
    CCR
    =:~)

  40. Hi Patty :) Thank you for the lovely comment on my blog. I am new to your blog but it's beauty is already apparent, as is the passion that fuels it.

    These bars are divine! Figs with dark chocolate, orange and brandy. Oh my! Too much of a good thing really is fabulous! Btw, I love the eggshell blue bowl that holds those perfect figs :)

  41. Wow! These look amazing! Fig newtons but a million times better. I love that there are chocolate chunks in there. Delicious! I will have to make this one soon!

  42. Patty, I missed reading your posts. Can't wait to get home so I can properly catch up. I'm losing count of all the recipes you've posted that I want to try. Fig bars have been at the top of my to-try list for so long but you've just elevated the standard to awesome levels. Beautiful and your pictures keep getting better and better. Congrats! :-)

  43. I have been wanting to make fig bars for weeks. THese look so good!

  44. Took me forever to get to the bottom of the comments, I was just leaving my office when I saw your pretty picture of the blood orange cheesecake. Yes I still want that one, but I love this idea since I have figs coming out of my ears at the moment. Can't wait till Friday. It's been a seriously long week already.
    -Gina-

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