I’ve always liked the oat and fig flavor combination of Fig Newtons (or similar knock-offs), as the subtly nutty oat flavor goes very well with the rich, sticky sweetness of the fig filling. The texture of the cake-like cookies is not always ideal, however. It might just be a freshness issue, but I never liked getting a batch of fig newtons were the edges were hard or tough and took away from the otherwise soft chewiness of the cookie.
I used the same flavor combination in these Fig Jam Bars, which are a bar cookie and not individually sliced as Fig Newtons are. The tender dough reminds me of a very soft shortbread, because it has a rich buttery flavor in addition to the flavor of oats, and pretty much melts in your mouth as you chew. Oat flour is sold in many grocery stores, and is easily available at Whole Foods and other health food-type markets. All it really is is oats that are ground to have the consistency of flour. You can make it yourself by whizzing rolled or quick-cooking oats in the food processor until they are very finely ground.
I used fig jam as the fig filling, which is very convenient. I’ve seen some fig bar recipes in the past that have you rehydrating dried figs, cooking them with sugar and pureeing them before using them in the recipe, and while I’m sure it’s good, it’s a little too time consuming for me. I find fig jam at farmers markets and at most grocery/specialty stores, but you can also make your own at home with fresh figs, if you find yourself with a surplus of fruit. I used Mountain Fruit Co.’s The Fig Galaxy – Black Mission Fig Jam for my bars.
Fig Jam Bars
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup oat flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup fig jam
Preheat oven to 350F and lightly grease an 8-inch square baking pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut softened butter into large chunks and blend into flour mixture using a mixer on low speed (or by hand with a fork) until mixture resembles wet sand and no large pieces of butter remain.
Add in egg yolk, molasses and vanilla and mix until a sticky dough forms.
Set aside 3/4 cup of dough.
Press remaining dough into an even layer in the prepared baking pan. Spread fig jam evenly over the layer, leaving a small gap around the edges of the pan. Break up remaining dough with your fingers and spread it over the fig jam layer.
Bake for about 30 minutes, until bars begin to turn golden around the edges.
Cool completely in the pan before slicing.
Makes 25 bars.