Not all fig bar recipes are equal. The iconic fig bars have quite a storied past. First, though we have a fig bar recipe below that’s similar to the nostalgic cookies, but less sweet, meaning you can make them at home.
Fig Bars with Newton Roots
Cakey cookie outsides filled with chewy fig filling—they are a taste of childhood. They were created back in 1891. Did you know they were almost named Fig Shrewsbury? Did you know that there is a National Fig Newton Day on January 16th? The passion over these chewy cookies runs deep!
Notes to Make This Fig Bar Recipe
The dough can get sticky. When that happens, we top the bottom layer with a greased piece of parchment paper before spreading it in the pan.
Before baking the fig bars recipe, adjust the oven rack to the middle position; preheat the oven to 350F; and line an 8-inch square baking pan with a foil sling that overhangs the edges. Then, grease the foil. That over-hang of foil sling will make it easier to remove the cookies from the pan.
Because it’s difficult to find fresh figs year-round, the Cook’s Country fig bars recipe uses dried figs. Rehydrating the dried figs in apple juice adds needed moisture plus a slight sweetness and a subtle flavor boost. You’ll cook the figs until soft and then process them with lemon juice until jammy.
All-purpose flour and whole wheat flour each bring something special to this fig bar recipe. The whole wheat flour adds texture while the all-purpose flour means they won’t be too sturdy and have a more delicate crumb. In a bowl, whisking together both flours, baking powder and salt both integrates all the ingredients but also adds in some air to lighten the crumb too.
Speaking of adding air, you beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy—this helps build volume and add air too. Then, add in the egg and vanilla. You’ll stir the whisked dry ingredients in until just combined so that the gluten isn’t developed too much and keeps the texture light for the fig bars.
Shaping the Bars
Transfer all but 3/4 cup of the dough into the prepared pan, pressing it into an even layer. Bake the cookies until golden. For the remaining raw cookie dough, roll it into an 8-inch square between 2 sheets of greased parchment paper, to be placed in the freezer until firm. Freezing the top layer of dough makes it easier to handle.
Spread the fig mixture over the baked cookie crust. Then, place the frozen dough square on top, pressing lightly on the dough to adhere, before returning the pan back to the oven to bake until golden brown. At that point, you’ll cool the cookie bars completely on a wire rack—it will take about 2 hours. Lift the foil sling of the bars out of the pan to cut into squares and serve.
California Fig Bars
- 2 cups apple juice
- 8 ounces Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Figs stemmed and quartered
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter softened
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar packed
- 1 egg large, room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, allowing excess to hang over pan edges. Grease foil. Cook apple juice, figs, and pinch salt in saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until very soft and syrupy, 15 to 20 minutes; let cool slightly. Process mixture with lemon juice in food processor until jamlike.
- Combine all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in bowl; set aside. With electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 2 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Stir in flour mixture until just incorporated. Place all but 3⁄4 cup dough into prepared pan and press into even layer. Bake until just golden, about 20 minutes. Roll remaining dough into 8-inch square between 2 sheets of greased parchment paper, then place in freezer until firm.
- Spread fig mixture evenly over baked crust. Top with frozen dough square. Bake until top is golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool completely on wire rack, about 2 hours. Using foil overhang, lift bars from pan. Cut into squares and serve.