Fig Bars

140727 Fig Bars

After baking these and posting this photo yesterday I had a number of requests for the recipe so here goes.  This comes from the King Arthur Flour Baking Companion – a book that I’m slowly baking my way through.

I started with the filling because it needs to cool before making the cookies.

1 pound dried figs

1/4 c granulated sugar

1 c water

1 tbsp orange juice

1 tbsp lemon juice

Grind the figs in a food processor or blender until a sticky, cohesive mass form.  (They say you can snip them with scissors but I have to tell you, without the food processors these cookies wouldn’t happen.) Combine the figs with the other ingredients in a saucepan, stir well, cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is very thick, 3 to 5 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

The cookie dough.

1/2 c shortening

1 c packed brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 c all purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

In a large mixing bowl beat together shortening, sugar, eggs and vanilla until creamy.  In a separate bowl whisk together the flours, baking soda, salt and baking powder.  Add this mixture to the wet ingredients gradually, beating until blended thoroughly.  Refrigerate for 2 hours.

Heat oven to 375.

Remove dough from refrigerator and roll it on a lightly floured surface to 14″x 16″.  Cut the dough into 4 strips 4″x 14″.  Spoon filling evenly down the center of each strip.  Lift the sides of each strip over the filling pressing the edges together to seal.  Cut the strip in half crosswise, making a total of eight 7″ strips. Place the strips seam side down, leaving 3 inches between them, on  lightly greased or parchment covered baking sheets.  Cut each strip into seven 1″ pieces but don’t separate them yet.

Bake the cookies for 13 to 15 minutes, until they’re puffed and firm to the touch.  Cool for several minutes on the baking sheet before separating them and cooling completely on racks.

This makes 56 cookies.

They are delicious.  Reminiscent of fig newtons but fresher tasting.  The fig really shines.

When reading through the recipe I thought these might be more trouble than they are worth.  There’s a lot of dough manipulation that goes on.  The only thing about this is that you have to work fairly quickly once the dough is rolled out.  As it warms it’s more difficult to work with.  All in all it’s worth the effort, I probably will never buy a fig newton again.

Soft Molasses Cookies

130929 Sof Molasses (2)

Baking season has once again arrived and I am one happy woman.  A few years ago the girls gave me the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion for Mother’s Day.  This is one of the best cookbooks I have ever owned.  Not only does it have recipes but it explains why things work the way they do.  Much like the movie “Julie and Julia” I decided to bake my way through this book.  It has notes written on recipes and batter stuck between some pages.  It also has other recipes printed and folded in between the pages.  That to me says it’s a great book when the “other” good recipes can be found stashed in it.

These particular cookies I come back too again and again.  Soft Molasses Cookies are what I refer to as an “adult” cookie.  They are highly spiced and not overly sweet – perfect with that afternoon cup of tea or coffee.  They are good right out of the oven but they are better the next day when they’ve completely cooled and developed that chewy texture.  They are rolled in sugar before baking which results in a crunchy sugar crust on the outside with the soft, chewy center.  Mmmmmmm.

Now I have to tell you a little secret about these cookies (or any soft cookie you may bake).  When you remove the pan from the oven hold it about a foot off of the floor and drop it so it lands flat. Yeah I know, sounds crazy but what it does is immediately compress the soft center of the cookie.  By doing this they stay soft and chewy for days.  I have a rug by the oven so they just come out and onto the floor.  Yes, my family thought I was crazy the first time they saw me do it but the proof was in the eating.

These are the things you learn when you take the time to read your cookbook.  It actually tells you to do this when baking soft cookies.  Although I must confess the first time I did it I made sure no one was around to see me do it.