If “rich,” “chocolate,” and “decadent” sound seductive, then these moist fig bars, studded with chocolate chips and oatmeal streusel, will have you at first bite. These bars are great keepers. If stored in airtight containers at room temperature, they will taste as fresh on week two as they did on day one.–Julie M. Usher
Chocolate-Fig Oatmeal Bars Recipe
Hands-On Time: 30 minutes | Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes | Makes 2 dozen (1 3/4- to 2-inch) squares
- For the chocolate-fig filling
- 1 cup coarsely chopped dried figs (preferably black Mission figs, stems removed)
- 1 cup coarsely chopped dried pitted dates (stems removed)
- About 2 cups warm water, enough to cover dried fruit
- 3 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons fine cognac
- 1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 cup premium semisweet chocolate chips, divided
- For the oatmeal streusel crust (and topping)
- 2 3/4 cups quick-cook oats
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure orange extract
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup pecan halves, lightly toasted, cooled, and coarsely chopped
- 1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking pan with a double layer of foil, leaving a 1-inch overhang around the top edge of the pan. Smooth out any big wrinkles in the foil and then lightly coat the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
- Make the filling
- 2. Place the figs and dates in a medium (3-quart) saucepan and cover with warm water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer, uncovered, until the fruit is quite soft, about 15 minutes. Thoroughly drain the fruit and blot dry with paper towels. Pat the fruit into a 1/2-inch-thick layer on several paper towels. Top with more paper towels, and let the mixture sit about 10 minutes to allow the towels to absorb excess moisture.
- 3. While the fruit is drying, proceed to prepare the streusel.
- 4. Place the fruit in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the brown sugar, cognac, orange zest, and spices, and process about 30 seconds, or until the mixture is reduced to a smooth paste. Turn into a clean bowl, cool completely, and then stir in ½ cup chocolate chips.
- Make the streusel and topping
- 5. Combine the oats, flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
- 6. Combine the brown sugar and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat another 30 seconds; then stir in the extracts by hand, followed by the dry ingredients. Mix just until there are no dry spots. Stir in the pecans.(Return now to step 3 above and process fruit in food processor).
- Assemble the bars
- 7. Press about two-thirds of the streusel into the bottom of the prepared pan and reserve the remainder. (The crust should be an even 1/4- to 3/8-inch thickness.) Spread the filling evenly over the crust. Drop the remaining streusel by heaping tablespoons on top to create a cobbled effect; then sprinkle with the rest of the chocolate chips.
- 8. Bake about 40 minutes, or until the streusel is golden brown and dry to the touch. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely in the pan. (If the cookies are not cooled completely, they may be difficult to cut.)
- 9. Remove the cookies in one block by gently pulling up on the foil overhang or by easing the block out with an offset spatula. Place directly on a cutting board and remove all foil. Trim any uneven edges before cutting the block into 1 3/4- to 2-inch squares. For the neatest cuts, use a sharp knife wiped clean with a warm, damp cloth between slices. (If the chocolate chips are difficult to cut, heat the knife blade directly over a hot burner before cutting.)
Chocolate-Fig Oatmeal Bars Recipe © 2009 Julie M. Usher. Photo © 2009 Steve Adams. All rights reserved.