Fig Bars with Pecan Crumble

When I moved to my house almost a year ago, my yard was mainly grass and concrete.  One of the first things I did was plant some fruit trees (peach, plum, and nectarine).  In the meantime while I try to patiently wait another year until my trees yield fruit, I get an extra jolt of excitement when friends surprise me with fruit from their mature fruit trees.  The latest food gift was 2 pounds of ripe, sweet black figs from a 20 year old tree.  I don’t usually bake with figs, but this unexpected gift inspired me to make Fig Bars topped with a pecan crumble.  Somehow the soft, buttery bottom crust manages to support a thick, juicy layer of fig jam while the nutty, sweet pecan crumble provides a bit of crunch and holds everything in place.  That said, this is one of those recipes where if you love figs, you’ll absolutely love this recipe, but if you’re just mildly into figs, this one might be fig overkill for you.

IMG_6494[1]IMG_6500[1]

Fig Bars with Pecan Crumble

Makes one 8×8 inch pan
(adapted from Fine Cooking)

Ingredients

Crust and Crumb Topping

2 oz. (1/2 cup) pecans
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. sugar
6-3/4 oz. (1-1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
4 oz. (8 Tbs.) butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Fig Jam

2 lb. very ripe figs, stems removed, unpeeled
1/4 cup sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 to 2 Tbs. lemon juice; more or less to taste

Directions

Heat the oven to 350°F.  Prepare an 8×8-inch baking dish by lining it with parchment paper or lightly grease.

Crust and Crumb Topping

  1. In a food processor, grind the pecans with 2 Tbs. of the sugar until fine; remove and set aside.
  2. Put the flour, the remaining 1/4 cup white sugar, the brown sugar, salt, and baking powder in the food processor and process until blended.
  3. Add the butter to the food processor and process until the mixture looks crumbly.
  4. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and pulse until the mixture is wet and clumping, about 30-40 seconds (it won’t form a ball).
  5. Pack two-thirds of the dough into an ungreased 8×8-inch baking dish; set aside the other one-third of the dough.
  6. Bake until the dough is lightly browned and keeps a slight indentation when you press it lightly, about 15-25 minutes.

Fig Jam

  1. While the crust is baking, coarsely chop the figs.
  2. Put the chopped figs in a nonreactive skillet with the sugar, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the juices have reduced and the fruit is tender and thick, about 15 minutes.
  3. Stir in the lemon zest, add the lemon juice to taste, and set aside. Note: If not using right away, refrigerate in a closed container.  This fig jam keeps for weeks, so if you like, make it well ahead of time.

Assembling the Fig Bars

  1. In a mixing bowl, crumble together the remaining dough with the reserved pecan and sugar mixture.
  2. Gently spread the fig jam on top of the baked crust.
  3. Sprinkle the dough mixture over the filling. The top will look crumbly.
  4. Bake until browned on top, about 25-35 minutes.
  5. Cool completely before cutting into bars 1-1/2 inches square.

Note:  The bars keep well for about a day or two.  They’ll get a bit too mushy and soggy after that.

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