Not that I do not love carbs, butter and all the rich foods – but after the Thanksgiving and Christmas glut of food – I am ready for some lighter things in my life. But, that doesn’t mean less delicious or satisfying….almost more-so, in a crunchy-granola way. So, the first bake of this year is fig and oat bars!
When I was in high school, I discovered the fig and oat bars at the Willy Street Coop. My life was changed. They were the collision of an oatmeal cookie and fig newton, but in a hippy-dippy style. Not too sweet, but perfectly gooey, nutty and oat-y. The coop stopped making them a few years after my discovery, and I immediately reached out them for the recipe.
Did I ever make them at home? Nope. Did I kinda forget about them, only to find inspiration from Sarah a few years later? Yep.
My version of fig and oat bars is waaay more scaled down than the coop’s version, doesn’t include some weirder ingredients (apple juice concentrate) that I just don’t buy, and also doesn’t call for applesauce (Sarah’s does, and again, I just don’t have apple sauce in my fridge or pantry, and when I do, it is homemade, and I don’t usually bake with it). Instead, I use banana OR an egg (version below is written with banana). My version also has a spicier fig filling, inspired by Deb’s challah filling: cinnamon, orange zest, black pepper and sea salt are my go-to’s. You can spice your filling up with anything you’d like…heck, if you’re lazy, use a quality store-bought jam (just know the bars will be sweeter in the end).
These fig and oat bars are truly wholesome enough for a true breakfast bar situation (they are basically nuts, dried fruit and oats….), and pair well with yogurt. Or, enjoy with coffee or tea….and I have also been known to crumble one over some vanilla ice cream.
Fig and Oat Bars
- 2 cups (300g) dried figs, any variety, stems removed if figs are super firm, you may need to add a little more water for jam-like consistency
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- pinch fine sea salt
- few grinds black pepper
- zest and juice of 1 orange
- water, to cover mixture
- 2 cups (280g) walnuts
- 2 cups (200g) oats regular oats, not instant
- 3/4 tsp fine sea salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 TB ground flax seed
- 1/4 cup (63g) water OR 1 large egg omit water if using egg
- 1/4 cup (60g) banana or applesauce
- 2 TB maple syrup or honey
- 1 TB melted coconut oil, olive oil or walnut oil
- Make the fig jam by combining all ingredients in a small sauce pot. Bring to a simmer over medium, and cook for 10-15 minutes until figs are tender. Most of the moisture will be absorbed by the figs or evaporated.
- Transfer contents to a food processor, and puree until smooth. Scoop into a bowl, and set aside. Wipe down the food processor – not need to clean since we will use it for the oat-walnut mixture.
- Prepare an 8"x8" baking pan, metal or glass with a sheet of parchment or aluminum foil. Set aside. Pre-heat oven to 350F with a rack in the middle of the oven.
- Optional: toast the walnuts on a sheet pan for 10 minutes, or until golden and fragrant. Allow to cool just slightly as you proceed with the recipe.
- In a medium bowl, mix the ground flax, water (or egg, omitting water if using an egg), banana (or apple sauce), maple syrup, oil and vanilla. Mix well, ensuring no clumps of banana remain if using banana.
- Add 1 cup (100g) of the oats to the wet mixture, mix, set aside.
- In the bowl of the food processor, combine the remaining 1 cup (100g) of the oats, 1 cup (140g) of walnuts, the sea salt and baking powder. Pulse into a semi-fine meal.
- Add the dry mixture from the food processor to the wet mixture. Mix together. The mixture will be on the thicker side, but should stick together when you squeeze or compress it against the bowl.
- Pat 2/3 of the oat-walnut mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Wet or oil your hands if the mixture is super sticky, and be sure to get an even layer.
- Spread the fig jam over the base, getting as even of a layer as possible. Crumble the remaining 1/3 of the oat-walnut mixture over the top of the fig jam, followed by the remaining 1 cup of walnuts, crushing them slightly in your hand. Gently press the topping and walnuts into the fig jam, just enough for the crumbly goods to stick into the jam.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the walnuts and topping are golden brown and fragrant. Allow to cool completely. The bars are a tad stick to cut when at room temperature, so you can also put them in the fridge or freezer to firm up before cutting.
- Store bars in an airtight container for up to 1 week in the fridge, or up to a few weeks frozen. Thaw bars at room temp or pop in the microwave or oven to re-heat if desired.