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The Year of the Cookie: Fig-Date-Almond Bars

6.March 2011

FIRST an advertisement: Dan and I have started a new journal – currently it’s only online, but eventually we will be producing a print edition as well.  I’d like to ask you to do two things: 1. Go and read what’s up at The Snake-Oil Cure; 2. Submit something! We’re accepting text (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, cocktail recipes, aphorisms, jokes, anecdotes, musings), images (photos, drawings, cartoons, etchings), videos (music, dance, walks through the city, whatever you like), and audio (songs, readings, recordings of birdsong).  Send your submissions (seriously, anything!) to

On Oscar Day (a very very big day chez Darby O’Shea), I decided to bake up some delicious gooey treats to chomp on while watching the celebrities drift by in chiffons and silks and custom tuxedos.  But, knowing full well that I would be feeling fat while watching them (skinny, toned), I wanted to make something I could convince myself was healthy.  (Ha! I can so thoroughly deceive myself!)  I settled on Fig Bars (I know, I know, I’m not supposed to LIKE fig bars!) that very closely resembled Fig Newtons in taste if not in form.

Wanting to mix things up a little, however, I threw in some dates and some almonds to give a crunch and some additional sweetness.  It was a good idea.

Before we get to the recipe, though, I promised that I would be dedicating our inaugural Ugli Fruit Cocktail to the worst dressed of the evening.  After much deliberation (it took me a week to decide, after all), I’ve decided it’s going to Nicole Kidman.  Not that her dress was COMPLETELY in bad taste (though I didn’t like the hip-draperies at all), but she has such potential and such a record of fabulous taste that I hate to see it go so wrong.

The “Nicole Kidman” Ugli Fruit Cocktail

  • juice of one ugli fruit (about a cup)
  • 6 oz dark rum
  • 2 oz cointreau
  • seltzer to top

Shake juice, rum, and cointreau with ice, strain into champagne glass and top with seltzer.

K, friend of Darby O’Shea toasts the ugli!

And now, with no further ado, the recipe for those delicious bars up there.

Fig-Date-Almond Bars

adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book


  • 8 oz dried Turkish Figs
  • 3 oz dates
  • 1/2 c slivered almonds
  • 2 c apple juice


  • 3/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 6 T unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 c light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 t vanilla extract


  1. Stem and quarter the figs, pit and halve the dates.
  2. Simmer figs and dates with apple juice for about 15 minutes or until the figs are reconstituted and the juice is syrupy.
  3. Let hot fruit and juice cool for a few minutes, then combine with almonds in a blender or food processor.  Process at a low speed until the mixture resembles a thick jam and the almonds are hacked into small pieces.  Set aside to cool.


  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Line an 8-inch square baking dish or pan with foil and grease the foil.
  2. Cream together brown sugar and butter until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, stir together flours, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Add vanilla and egg and mix until just combined.
  4. Stir in flour mixture and set aside about 1 cup of the dough for the top cookie layer.
  5. Press the remaining dough into the bottom of the baking dish, cover with greased parchment, and smooth into an even layer with the bottom of a measuring cup, glass or similar.
  6. Remove parchment and bake until the crust begins to turn golden, 20 minutes.
  7. While bottom crust is baking, roll the top layer between two sheets of greased parchment until very thin.  Trim to precisely 8 inches square and place in the freezer to harden until needed.


  1. When bottom crust comes out of the oven, spread the fig mixture evenly over it.
  2. Retrieve the top layer of crust from the freezer, unwrap it, and place carefully on top of the fig mixture, pressing lightly.
  3. Bake at 350 until the top crust is golden brown, about 30 minutes.  Rotate the pan halfway through.
  4. Let the fig bars cool completely, then, using the foil lining, carefully remove from the pan and remove foil.  Cut into bars.
  5. Bars are best within the first two days, but will keep for three or four days.
3 Comments leave one →
  1. wjh permalink
    6.March 2011 17:14

    haha, my blog roll only showed me a small pic of you and the fruit, and my first thought was “that is one ugly fruit, why would she hold it into a camera”?

  2. Christine permalink
    13.March 2011 12:38

    Hey K,

    Really like the photo! You are looking great. Did you enjoy the ugly one?

  3. 18.June 2011 16:12

    Great idea. My mom used to make something like this when I was a kid, and I’ve been trying to figure out how to re-create them. Hers incorporated rolled oats in them, so they were sort of a cross between a chewy granola bar and a soft bar cookie. This give me some new ideas – thanks!

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