When I was a kid, my mother would pack our school lunches every day of the week. Oftentimes, she'd get Nabisco Fig Newton bars when they were on sale at the supermarket and pop three little cookies in a plastic wrap. They were so delish dunked in milk and chomped in such a way that the little seeds popped between my teeth. Loved that sensory thing ... don't know why, but to this day I love figs for their sweetness and their seed-popping chew!
These lemon fig bars are as close to the Nabisco Fig Newtons of my childhood as I'll get with a home baked recipe. Perfect for dunking in a glass of milk or a hot cup of tea (or Chai !). I store these in a cookie jar, stacked like bricks with a slice of apple off to the side to keep them moist. They'll dry out, otherwise.
Of course, if you eat them fast enough ...
These bars start out with a butter/brown sugar/oat/flour layer pressed into a parchment-paper lined pan. In typical bar cookie fashion, a 9 x 9 inch pan works best for this amount of crunch crust. The figs get a long soak and then a smash up with a masher to make the fig paste that is spread between the cookie layers. This is an easy recipe ... quick layers, bake, cool, slice. My kinda cookie ...
Lemon Fig Bars
2 c. chopped dried figs
3/4 c. water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
juice of one lemon
Mix the above ingredients in a saucepan and simmer for about 15 minutes covered. Remove from the heat and set aside.
1/2 c. plus 2 tbsp. butter, softened
3/4 c. dark brown sugar
1 c. old-fashioned oats
1 3/4 c. flour
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
Cream the butter and brown sugar until smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients and smash with a fork to make a crumbly dough that holds together when you squeeze a handful.
Line a 9 x 9 inch baking pan with parchment paper and pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Press about 2/3 of the crumbly dough into the bottom of the pan, pressing into place with the back of a spoon.
Zest the lemon that you juiced and sprinkle the zest over the bottom layer of cookie bar dough.
Smash the warm fig mixture with a masher to make a paste. Spread it right up to the edges of the pan over top the cookie dough.
Sprinkle the rest of the crumble mix over top of the fig paste and press gently into place.
Bake the cookie bars for 30 minutes. Remove and allow them to cool for ten minutes in the pan. Lift the parchment paper and place the lemon fig bars on a rack to finish cooling.
Slice into 16 bars. Store closely covered with an apple slice to keep them moist.