July has really been flying by for me. I have mile long list of recipes to try and a never-ending fridge full of vegis, but I am not getting much accomplished. The friend who I split my CSA with has been in Europe the last two weeks (ya, I know!), so I have been attempting to eat my way through the full share. This, along with the fact that I have been spending what’s left of my few free summer weekends lounging at the Cape leaves me only five days (if I’m optimistic) to work my way through a mess of vegis before the next round comes in. So, ya I’m behind.
But instead of concentrating on what I have on hand like a normal person, I decided to do something totally practical like buy a big box of figs. Oh, and red currants. In my defense, the season for both is limited and the red currants are oh so pretty I just couldn’t pass them up. Because apparently pretty is now a criteria for buying produce.
So I present to you Fig & Red Currant Bars, an oatmealy-fig-newton-esque bar (but SO much better), which perfectly combines all my favorite elements of baking. Sugar, alcohol and good looking produce.
If you cannot get your hands on red currants, don’t fret. While they add a delicious layer of flavor, they can be substituted with another berry (blueberries…mmm…) or left out if you’re a fig-only kind of fanatic.
Fig & Red Currant Bars
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted (12 T)
1 c packed light brown sugar, divided
1 banana, mashed
3/4 t salt
1 1/2 c oats
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
10-12 Black Mission figs, finely chopped
1/2 c red currants (plus additional for garnish)
1 c orange juice
1/4 c agave nectar
1/4 c packed light brown sugar
1/2 t ground cloves
2 T dark rum or Cognac
Preheat oven to 325F. Line a 13x9 baking pan with parchment paper, allowing ends to overhang. In a large bowl, combine butter, 3/4 c brown sugar, banana and salt. Stir well. Add oats and flour, and mix until well combined. Transfer half (or a bit more) of the dough to the baking pan, pressing into a thin layer evenly in the bottom. Add 1/4 c brown sugar to the remainder of the streusel dough in the bowl, stir, and set aside. Freeze baking pan 8-10 minutes, until dough is firm. Transfer to oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. Increase oven temperature to 350F.
Combine filling ingredients in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 20 minutes. Add in red currants and simmer an additional 10-15 minutes, stirring, until most of the liquid is absorbed. Spread filling evenly over crust. Scoop streusel dough, in small clumps, over filling. Sprinkle with additional red currants. Bake, 20-25 minutes, until streusel topping is golden brown. Carefully lift using parchment overhang and transfer to a cutting board. Allow to cool and cut into 2” squares.