When you can’t choose between cookies and cake, make these homemade fig bars! This simple recipe combines oats, almond flour and brown sugar with luscious mission fig compote for the perfect treat or snack. Sophisticated enough for adults and adored by kids, this fig bar recipe will become an instant classic.
FIG. BARS. OMG. YES.
These are the grown-up-but-totally-kid-approved homemade Fig Newtons that everyone needs in their life, like, NOW. They slay bedtime cravings, heal toddler boo-boos, and transform angsty tweens into sweet babes, all while evoking the hardcore nostalgia that comes from being a late 80’s/early 90’s kid when Newtons were just all the rage, all the time. They also turn husbands into nags, asking “are the fig bars done yet? Are they chilled? Are they ready, are they ready?” #askmehowiknow
Homemade fig compote is sandwiched between a firm but delicate crust and a crumbly topping studded with almonds that crackles with each bite. They’re sweet but not too sweet. They’re hefty and kind of “meaty” but still tender, and a far cry from dry or mealy. They’re that perfect combination of cake + cookie when you can’t pick one or the other. Magic bars, they are.
Tools You’ll Need
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- 8″ x8″ Baking Dish
- Parchment Paper: I really love the parchment from this brand, If You Care. I buy it in bulk from Amazon, but it’s pretty widely available in most stores, including Target and my local Giant. It’s very sturdy, and I use it for everything from baking to roasting vegetables and baking fish.
- 2-quart Saucepan
- Hand mixer: After years and years of relying on my stand mixer, I finally bit the bullet and bought a hand mixer. I’d always thought it was an necessary purchase, but I’m so glad to have it around for smaller jobs like these fig bars. You can certainly cream the butter and sugar in your stand mixer, just be sure to frequently scrape down the sides of the bowl for best results.
- Large mixing bowl
- Rubber spatula
- Wooden spoon
- Wire cooling rack
- Sharp chef’s knife
How to Make Homemade Fig Bars
Light and delicate but crispy and crumbly, these fig bars are the perfect treat when you can’t decide between cookies or cake (and why should you have to?). They’re a slightly more sophisticated version of the classic Fig Newton, equally loved by kids and adults.
There are lots of photos in this step-by-step guide, but don’t let the process shots fool you – this fig bar recipe is super simple! But if you’re anything like me when I first started baking, you’ll want all the visual clues you can get your eyes on.
Remove the stems from the figs, roughly chop, then place into a 2-quart sauce pan and cover with 2 cups of cold water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium low and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the figs are very soft and all of the liquid has been absorbed. In the last 5 or so minutes, gently crush the figs with the back of a wooden spoon to create a paste.
The final result will look like this. Remove from heat, and stir in the honey, vanilla extract, and almond extract.
While the figs are simmering, make the crust and topping.
Cream the butter and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the all-purpose flour, oats, and almond flour to the creamed butter and sugar. Use a rubber spatula to fold them in. Towards the end, you’ll probably want to use your (clean) hands to ensure the ingredients are mixed evenly (it will be thick).
Press two-thirds of the crust into the bottom of an 8″ x 8″ baking dish lined with parchment paper. Try to get the crust as even as possible. Add the sliced almonds to the remaining dough and work them in with your hands or a rubber spatula.
Spread the fig compote evenly over the crust. Break the remaining crust into small pieces and sprinkle over the compote. It won’t completely cover it, and that’s okay – the gaps make for a pretty finish.
Last, gently press the pieces into the compote. This helps the bars stick together.
Bake 30 minutes, until golden brown all over. Cool in the baking pan set on top of a wire rack for 1 hour, then transfer to the fridge until chilled – about 2 hours. RESTRAIN THYSELF. While delicious warm, the bars are gooey and won’t hold their shape until chilled.
Once the bars are chilled and set, slice into squares using a sharp knife. NOW you can go wild!
Fig Bars Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have to use the almond flour? The almond flour brings incredible flavor and a light, delicate texture to the crust and topping. Plus figs and almonds are natural companions. That being said, you can omit the almond flour if you find it hard to source or too expensive (although Aldi now carries super-fine almond flour at a super affordable price!). To do so, use 1.5 cups all-purpose flour and 1.5 cups oats.
How long do these fig bars keep? Up to 2 days on the counter in a sealed container, or up to five days chilled in the fridge. The bars soften up quite a bit at room temperature and get a bit gooey (in a good way!) but I prefer them chilled, straight from the fridge.
What kinds of figs should I use? I like dried mission figs because they have the best flavor and their seeds are delicate and not overwhelming. You can get them almost anywhere these days, but Trader Joe’s offers the best prices. Turkish figs are also popular and readily available (they’re the ones lighter in color). Here’s a handy guide on the difference between the two from Cook’s Illustrated.
Can I use fresh figs? I wouldn’t. Fresh figs are amazing, but they have a much higher water content, and wouldn’t produce a suitable texture for the compote recipe. Additionally, dried figs are more economical and readily available year-round.
Can I make this recipe vegan? Yes! Substitute an equivalent amount of vegan butter when making the crust. I haven’t tested this recipe with coconut oil, so I wouldn’t recommend it at this time (but if you give it a try, please let me know in the comments!).
Tips for Making This Recipe Perfectly
- Don’t forget to remove the stems from the figs!
- Simmer the figs until they’re very soft and can be easily crushed with a wooden spoon.
- Gently press the topping into the fig compote – while baking, the crumble topping expands, but doesn’t do a good job of setting itself into the compote unless you give it some help. Some nice gentle pressure will ensure the layers remain intact.
- Chill thoroughly before attempting to slice and serve, or you’ll have a hot (literally) mess on your hands. Ask me how I know 🙂
More Recipes You’ll Love
- Paleo Blueberry Muffins with Chia Seeds
- Paleo Zucchini Bread
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- Cardamom Plum Galette
- Gluten Free Blueberry Cobbler
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- 8 oz dried mission figs chopped (about 2 cups)
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Crust and Topping
- 1 c packed light brown sugar
- 3/4 c salted butter softened
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 c all-purpose flour
- 1 c rolled oats
- 1 c superfine almond flour
- 1/3 c sliced almonds
- Heat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8x8 baking dish with parchment paper.
- Make the filling. In a 2-quart saucepan, combine the dried figs and two cups water over high heat. Bring the liquid to a low boil, then reduce heat to medium low. Simmer until the mixture is thick and the liquid has been absorbed, 15-20 minutes. In the last 5 minutes, use the back of a wooden spoon to crush the figs and mash them into a compote. Remove from heat and stir in the honey, almond extract, and vanilla extract.
- Make the crust and topping. Using a hand mixer, cream the brown sugar and butter at high speed until light and fluffy, 3 minutes. Add the baking soda and mix for 10 seconds more or until incorporated. Add the flour, rolled oats, and almond flour to the bowl and use a rubber spatula to combine.
- Press two-thirds of the flour/oat mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Spread the fig compote evenly over the crust.
- Mix the sliced almonds into the remaining crust mixture. Sprinkle the crust over the fig compote, then gently pressing the pieces into the filling to adhere.
- Bake for 30 minutes until the crust is golden brown all over. Cool in the pan set on top of a wire rack for 1 hour, then refrigerate to chill, about 2 hours. The fig bars will keep in the fridge in a covered container for up to 5 days.