When the colder months roll around I crave sweets full of spices.
The warmth of cinnamon.
The floral freshness of cardamom.
The woody earthiness of ginger.
And the soothing citrus aroma of cloves.
And dried fruit -- name a better time of year to enjoy dried fruits!
When fresh berries, peaches and plums are not in season, I still crave fruit and love to cook with jammy dried fruits like figs, dates, apricots and cherries.
This recipe features dried mission figs in all their glory! These bars are like the familiar date squares but even better and even more festive with perfectly sweet, rich and delicious fig filling.
The crumble is buttery with a warming gingerbread spices to make your kitchen smell incredible as they bake!
Soothing cinnamon and ginger pair so well with the rich honey-like sweetness of figs. Cooking them down to make these bars gives them almost a molasses-like sweetness that is so robust. For this recipe I used Orchard Choice California Dried Mission Figs.
Since they're actually not overly sweet (the filling has no added sugar!), these bars actually take really well to a drizzle of salted caramel. Salty, sweet, creamy, buttery caramel.... just imagine.
But don't imagine - know it yourself and bake them today!
So maybe you're thinking, do I need the caramel sauce?
Yes! We always need caramel sauce!
I used my favourite recipe for Easy Salted Caramel Sauce that uses the wet method of making caramel.
How to make EASY Salted Caramel Sauce?
Follow the recipe as written here. Pay careful attention to the order of steps:
1. Pour water into a saucepan and add sugar over the water.
2. Add lemon juice and corn syrup or honey.
3. Cook until the sugar dissolves, it bubbles and turns to a clear syrup. Do not stir. Continue to cook until it begins to change to a golden colour. Swirl the pan gently as necessary to help it cook and colour evenly.
Adding water to the pan first ensures that the sugar starts dissolving immediately and dissolves evenly.
Once the syrup begins to boil, DO NOT STIR.
Have the cream hot and ready. Adding cold cream to the hot syrup will cause a violent eruption due to the extreme temperature difference... it will still work, but it's safer to add hot cream. Also, the cream will incorporate more smoothly if it is warm.
How to prevent caramel from turning grainy?
There are a few ingredients that will help to prevent crystallization and ensure that your sauce stays smooth and silky.
1. Liquid sugars like honey, corn syrup or liquid glucose will all help with re-crystallization by physically interfering with sucrose molecules to prevent them from coming together and clumping.
2. Acid ingredients (like vinegar or lemon juice) physically break the bonds between the glucose and fructose molecules that form sucrose and ensure that it stays apart. By adding a little lemon juice to the sugar and then heating it, you are essentially creating invert sugar in your pan.
These bars would be a lovely welcome to your holiday cookie platter this year! They are soft and moreish... and it will be hard for you to stop at just one.
I know you'll enjoy them! xo
You can find more dried fig recipes here.
Gingerbread Spiced Fig Crumble Bars with Salted Caramel Drizzle
- 1 batch Easy Salted Caramel Sauce
- 2 cup 270g Orchard Valley Mission Figs, chopped into small pieces
- 1 ½ cups 370ml water
- 1 tablespoon 15ml fresh lemon juice
Base and topping:
- 1 cup 100g large flake rolled oats
- ⅔ cup 95g all-purpose flour
- ⅔ cup 145g packed light brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- ⅛ teaspoon ground clove
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoon 84g unsalted butter, softened
- For the caramel, follow the recipe here. Pour the sauce into a heatproof jar and let cool at room temperature before drizzling. You can make it up to 2 weeks in advance and store it in the fridge.
- For the filling, combine chopped figs and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer for about 15 minutes until figs are very soft. Remove from heat, add lemon juice and mash the figs until it forms a paste. Try to get it as smooth as you can but a few small chunks are OK. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8x8-inch pan with parchment paper leaving a 2-inch over hang at each side.
- For the crumb mixture, combine oats, flour, brown sugar, spices, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and mix well. Add pieces of butter and blend with your fingertips until the mixture looks like crumbs and the butter is well dispersed. Press two-thirds of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan and compress it down to form an even layer. Spread fig mixture evenly over top and then sprinkle remaining crumbs over the fig layer. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden.
- Let it cool completely in the pan then cut into bars and drizzle with salted caramel sauce before serving.