Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Chocolate-Fig Oatmeal Bars

Chocolate-Fig Oatmeal Bars (Adapted from Cookie Swap)

For the filling

1 cup coarsely chopped dried black Mission figs
1 cup coarsely chopped dried pitted dates
2 cups warm water
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons cognac
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh grated orange zest
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
6 ounces (about 1 cup) chopped bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, divided

For the crust and topping

2 3/4 cups quick-cook oats
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (1 cup or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure orange extract
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup walnut halves, toasted and coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To prepare the filling

In a medium saucepan, add fig, dates and water. Bring to a boil over medium-high - reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until the fruit has softened, about 15 minutes. Drain fruit well. Spread fruit onto several layers of paper towels - top with additional paper towels and let sit for 10 minutes to remove excess moisture.

Place fruit into a food processor - add brown sugar, cognac, zest, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Process until the mixture is a smooth paste. Scoop mixture into a bowl and set aside to cool completely. When cool, stir in 3 ounces (about 1/2 cup) bittersweet chocolate.

To prepare the crust and topping

In a large bowl, stir together oats, flour, baking powder and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter and sugar until smooth and creamy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing until well combined after each. Mix in orange extract and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and stir just until combined - fold in pecans.

Scoop about two-thirds of the crust mixture into the bottom of a 9" x 13" baking pan coated with cooking spray. Evenly press mixture down to form a level crust. Add dollops of the fruit filling over the top and use an off-set spatula to spread evenly. Drop the remaining crust mixture by heaping tablespoons all over - scatter the remaining bittersweet chocolate over the top.

Place into the oven and bake until the top is golden and dry to the touch, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely before cutting into squares.

Makes about 24 bars.

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1 comment:

  1. Joe, this looks amazing and different! Love the little addition of orangeness! Thanks!