I have a love of figs. There is something romantic about this biblical fruit; it is sensual. Maybe it is its the shape or perhaps it is the texture. Whatever it is that draws me in, it is simply an amazing and delicate fruit.
They were said to be Cleopatra’s favorite food, there is no denying that these buxom purple and greenish yellow fruits are sexy in both appearance and texture. For obvious reasons, they’ve been a synonym in erotic literature for female sexual organs (or so I am told). To the ancient Greeks, they were “more precious than gold” and many cultures associated figs with fertility.
California figs, which account for the majority of the world’s crop, are available only June through September, and in my neck of the woods we seem to harvest the bumper crop in August and September. They are among the most perishable fruits and must be eaten within one to two days of purchase or harvest. So you can imagine my excitement and my stress when my cousin Rochelle, who has the MOST amazing fig tree in our area, gave me 20 pounds of figs. For the first hour my son and I ate them like candy, and then reality set in and I suddenly realized that I wasn’t set up to cook this quantity of fruit. Sure I had some recipe ideas that I had tucked away the year before in anticipation of the next bounty, but this was a lot of figs, and I couldn’t imagine allowing them to go to waste. I quickly mobilized and got my baking cap on!
I decided with so many figs, I would take a gamble and make double the filling for this recipe in hopes that I could make a second pan of fig bars if success was achieved. The first batch was so darn good it was gone in less than a few hours and then batch number two was under way. I have shared it with family and friends, both whom like and dislike figs, and I am pleased to say that it has received so many accolades that I had to post it right away. It’s a keeper. You are going to want to book mark this page.
Dark Mission Fig Streusel Bars
2 pounds ripe fresh figs
2 TBS lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
Rinse figs and trim and discard stem and blossom (or bottom) ends. Coarsely chop figs.
In 3-4 quart pot, over medium heat, combine figs, lemon juice, and granulated sugar; stir until mixture is thick and reduced to about about 2 cups. Approximate cooking time is 45 minutes. Set aside to cool. Note: at this point it is possible to refrigerate fig mixture for up to two days.
In a large bowl combine butter and brown sugar, with an electric mixer on high speed, until smooth. In medium bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, salt, and oats. Stir into butter mixture. Dough will be crumbly, and only stick together when pressed firmly between hands.
Spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Press half the dough evenly over the bottom of the baking pan. Spread fig mixture evenly over dough. Crumble remaining dough evenly over fig mixture; lightly press.
Bake in a 400 degree oven until streusel is lightly browned, approximately 20-25 minutes. Place pan on a rack to cool for about 10 minutes. While still warm, cut into 24 bars. Allow to cool completely in pan.