Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Fig Bars (Gluten-Free | Vegan)

Fig Newtons were always a mystery to me. They weren't cookie-sweet that would satisfy a dessert craving, but yet they wouldn't be something that's acceptable as a dinner companion.

And they sure as heck don't have chocolate, so they lose some points there.

Wait, they have figs? Riiiight. OK, you have a deal then. I'll take your dried figs, turn them into mush, smooth them between 2 layers of dough, and call it my new new favorite snack. Or dessert. Or for that "I want to eat something not dessert-ish but still tastes sort of sweet and just fools me" moment. 

My husband came home and declared that these are the bomb. So yeah, listen to that. He's a teacher, so he totally knows what's up.

I saw this recipe from my favorite vegan chef awhile ago, but just got around to making it. I suggest you do the same - maybe when you've had a stressful day, when all you want to do is smash some...figs...into a pulp. So satisfying!

Fig Bars (Gluten-Free | Vegan)
adapted from IsaChandra
Makes 16 bars

For the fig filling:
1 lb. dried figs, hard stems removed and diced into small pieces
2/3 cup water
1/4 cup pure maple syrup

For the dough:
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
1/4 cup non-dairy milk
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup almond meal

1 1/4 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Line an 8 x 8 square metal brownie pan with enough aluminum foil so that it folds over the sides of the pan by about an inch. Spray bottom of covered pan with non-stick cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. In a large saucepan, combine chopped figs, water, and agave nectar/maple syrup. Bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce to a simmer and stir occasionally. When figs begin to soften in about 8 to 10 minutes continue to cook but mash figs with a firm spatula or a fork to create a chunky, moist paste. I got the prefect consistency with this ratio of fig:water, but if your mixture looks too dry add in more water until it works for you. Remove filling from heat and set aside.My filling still had some large chunks in it, which I liked for more texture.

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine ground flax seed, non-dairy milk, canola oil, Sucanant and vanilla extract until smooth, mixing for about 1 1/2 minutes.

4. In a separate small bowl, sift together the almond meal, sweet rice flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir into the wet ingredients.

5. Form a soft dough, gather into a ball with your hands and divide into two sections. Form one section into a ball with your hands - the dough will be slightly sticky and wet.

6. Fit the dough ball into the bottom of your prepared pan and fit so it's an even thickness. Pop into the oven for 10 minutes to set.

7. When the bottom layers is done "pre-baking" for 10 minutes, evenly layer on the fig filling. Top with the final layer of dough, smoothing the best you can on top of the figs. Mine was a little spotty and some filling peeked through, which I liked the look of.

8. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes until crust is golden and slightly hardened. Remove from oven and place pan on wire rack to cool. When completely cool remove bars from pan by grabbing the edges of the foil and lift everything out of pan. I cut mine into 16 squares right onto the tinfoil.

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