I came home from the store with two pounds of fresh figs the other day.No clue as to what I was going to do with them but they were too tempting to walk away from.My husband, Joe, spotted my purchase and stated that he’d never had a fig in his life.He thought about that for a minute and then remembered one of his childhood favorites – Fig Newtons.Then my husband told me, as only he can, that I couldn’t make anything as good as a Fig Newton. He had me cornered – I had no choice but to prove him wrong.
I was in quite a quandary because I wasn’t sure I could make a suitable cookie outside before the figs passed their peak.The wheels in my head started turning and I recalled a naturally sugar and gluten- free crust at Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Sugar-Free.In Angie’s version, the crust is raw.I decided to bake it, cook down the figs to achieve the jam-like center, freeze the cookies, and then top them with my homemade ice cream.
If you do make these, just know that you may eat them all in one sitting.Or at least half of them.The apricot and cinnamon in the crust compliment the sweet fig jam and the ice cream, well, it makes these cookies pure bliss.I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a dessert this much.Half of my cookies were topped with my vanilla bean ice cream, the other half with my dark chocolate, which I promise to post in the near future – it’s my best chocolate ice cream yet.
Don’t be intimidated by the different parts of this recipe – it’s actually fool-proof and virtually maintenance-free.Just make it when you’re going to be home for a few hours.You can line your 8×8 pan with aluminum foil lifters if you choose.It’s not necessary, though.I think it’s easier to cut these cookie bars in the pan.
Serves: Makes 16 (2 x 2-inch) bars
- ½ cup dried apricots, tightly packed
- boiling water – enough to cover apricots
- 1 ½ cups whole, raw almonds
- zest from one lemon
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 3 cups of water
- 6 tablespoons frozen, unsweetened apple juice concentrate
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 pound figs, washed, stemmed, and halved
- Place apricots in a heat-proof bowl. Bring water to a boil. Pour over apricots and cover. Let apricots sit for 2 hours. (Start cooking the figs after the apricots have been soaking for 1 hour.) After 1 ½ hours, preheat oven to 350 degrees so you can bake off your crust.
- Once apricots are finished soaking, drain off water.
- Fit food processor with a steel blade. Place almonds in the food processor. Pulse several times to break them up and then process until they reach a coarse consistency. Add apricots, lemon zest, and cinnamon. Process until nuts are finely ground and ingredients stick together.
- Spray an 8x8 pan with non-stick baking spray. Using a spatula or waxed paper, evenly press crust into the bottom of an 8x8 pan.
- Bake for 15 - 20 minutes or until edges just start to brown.
- Put water, apple juice concentrate, and vanilla extract into a large, heavy bottom sauce pan and mix well.
- Add figs, bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally, until figs have cooked down, reduced by ¾, and sauce has thickened and is slightly syrupy.
- Transfer to a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse several times, then process until it becomes like thin jam.
- Pour figs over warm crust and return to oven for 30 minutes or until the edges are bubbly.
- Let cookies cool, wrap, and place in the freezer for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Let ice cream sit out for 20 minutes, or until softened, and spread across the top of the frozen cookie bars.Return to freezer for an hour or until frozen.
- Cut into desired size and serve.