Sunday, July 11, 2010

[Cookie 082] Fig Bars

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Fig Newton's: remember those? I always find myself thinking about those cookies--the few times I do--in the past tense, as if they have since been discontinued or simply have become a relic of the past. But in reality, they're still alive and well, right? I guess. Maybe they were never that popular, but when I was a kid I think they were kind of a big deal to be, albeit probably in a subconscious way. All I know is that my dad liked them, I liked them, and I remember eating them a lot while watching The Three Stooges. Kick ass childhood memory, I'd say! Slapstick violence and chewy fig cookies! None of this Disney and Oreo bullshit you hear about so often.

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Aaaanyways, I digress. Or, actually, I think I'm still on track here. The point is, ever since the tender young age of about 10 or 12 or so, we stopped buying Fig Newtons. Stopped talking about them too. It was subtle, a gentle erasure of something that once it was removed, I didn't really miss that much. I went on with life, stopped watching The Three Stooges as our VHS tapes began to disintegrate, and moved on to bigger and better cookies (Vienna Fingers: He-lloooo!!! Don't get me started). Didn't pay much mind to the lack of F.N.'s around the house, I'll tell you that.

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Until this recipe. Hmm, Fig Bars. Yeah, they aren't exactly Fig Newton's (and there is another recipe in the book that seems a lot closer to their Nabsico counterparts), but still--a soft sandwich-bar cookie with a fig filling comprised of not only figs, but honey, spices, and red wine!

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It was Father's Day (yeah yeah...ages ago) and these seemed like the perfect cookie to make for my dad. He adored the Prune Rugelach, and so I was going to make the fig Rugelach Fingers, but decided on these instead. And so it was. I made the filling, and it smelled like heaven on earth it was so good. I made the dough, and it smelled like dough, nothin' special.

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Ladiez in da kitchen

As for the assembly, it was pretty simple except for one part. You roll out half the dough into a thin, big rectangle--NO PROBZ. Then you roll out the other half likewise--NO PROBZ, pt II. Then you spread the fig filling on one sheet of dough (easy also), but then you have to transfer the other rectangle of dough ON TOP OF the other one, and let's just say that they are a tad delicate. I'm sure all you readers (?) know a bunch of trixy little methods of doing this, and don't worry, I succeeded, but it was a little scary for a minute. But once completed the big flip, I felt like a master chef.

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But if only my pride were over creating a tasty cookie, instead of completing a tricky task. You see, the end result...lacked. It was just okay. And it took a lot of work to make these guys! Time and energy that could have been spent trying to download Larry-Moe-Curly episodes from the interwebs! Precious time baby! That's not to say that the cookie didn't taste good--it did--it just wasn't as spectacular as it smelled while I was concocting it. Was it better than a regular old Fig Newton? Yeahhhhh, but it lacked the nostalgia. And high-fructose corn syrup. (Or are those one and the same?)

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Aiight, so that's that. Disappointed yet? I am. But I've moved on! And you should learn to do the same, jeez. Don't get so hung up on all the time I wasted--it's not a big deal, alright?? Am I projecting my dismay onto you? Yes? Yes. Whatever, bigger and better next time. Here that Martha? Yeah. You better make a killer Vienna Fingers recipe, or you best check yourself.

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Fig Bars
Makes 2 dozen

Ingredients
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 cups dried Calimyrna figs
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely ground pepper

  • Directions
  • Cream butter and sugar with the paddle attachment of an electric mixer. Add egg, 1 egg yolk, vanilla, and lemon zest; mix well. Add flour and salt; mix on low speed until dough just comes together. Wrap dough in plastic, and chill until firm, about 1 hour.
  • To make the filling, combine figs, honey, wine, 1 cup water, cinnamon, and pepper in a small saucepan, and cook over low heat, stirring often, until reduced to a thick paste, about 10 to 15 minutes. Spread filling on a baking sheet to cool.
  • Divide dough in half. Roll out one half to fit a 10-by-15-inch baking sheet. Pick up dough by wrapping it around a rolling pin, and unroll it onto baking sheet.
  • Spread fig filling evenly over pastry. Roll out remaining half of dough, and cover filling. Trim excess pastry to make a perfect rectangle. Chill for 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Use a paring knife to score dough lightly into 1-by-3-inch bars. Use a fork to prick holes in each bar. Make an egg wash by combining remaining egg yolk with 1 teaspoon water. Lightly brush bars with egg wash. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Cut into bars, and let cool.

  • ****
    {End Results}
    Baking Difficultly: 4/5
    Ingredient Accessibility: 3/5 (I used both Calimyrna figs and Mission figs, whatever)
    Tastiness: 3/5
    Attractiveness: 2/5
    Is it worth it?: Sadly, I don't think so. Takes a lot of time...

    {Pairings}
    Drink: Apple Juice!
    Song: Wild Honey -- The Beach Boys
    Activity: Go out and buy some real Fig Newton's

    4 comments:

    Jen said...

    I very much like your blog. If I was on the fence before, you won me over with "None of this Disney and Oreo bullshit." I'm going to try to work that into a conversation at the office tomorrow.

    ali said...

    I guess that last line (activity) sums it up. :)

    I like you.

    Chef Dennis said...

    those are beautiful fig bars, they look delicious! Your images are incredible too.....thanks so much for sharing!

    Meagan said...

    Wow, I am a junior in college too and I could never do this! I wish I could - I've always wanted too. What's your major? The pictures are GORGEOUS