Figaros Squares: Easy Way to Homemade Fig Newtons

Figaros taste like fig bars, only BETTER! Corn Free, Nut Free, Soy Free

Sample recipe from Ricki Heller's Sweet Freedom Dessert Cookbook

Figaros Cookie Bars

Figaros Cookie Bars got rave reviews: "I didn't know there could be so much bliss in a cookie!" "Just divine! Let me buy you some figs so you can make more!"

Ricki Heller: "I really enjoy Fig Newtons, but I am just too lazy to roll out dough, fill it, and cut out the bars. I created this easy version of the classic bars during the winter, when grapefruits are abundant in the grocery stores. The tangy grapefruit makes a perfect foil for the sweet figs in the filling."

Total prep & cook time: 60 min

16 Servings

Nutrition Data Per Serving: 136 calories, calories from fat 37, 24 g carbohydrate, 10 g sugars, 4 g fat, 40 mg sodium, 4 g dietary fiber, 3 g protein, 6% DV iron, 7% DV calcium, low in Saturated Fat, very low in Cholesterol, good source of Manganese. Estimated glycemic load: 11.

Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp (15 ml freshly grated grapefruit zest
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 3 Tbsp (45 ml) agave nectar, light or dark
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) freshly grated orange zest
  • 10 1/4 oz (290 g) soft dried figs (hard stems removed), cut in half
  • Variation: Use orange juice and 1 Tbsp + 2 tsp (25 ml) orange zest in place of the grapefruit juice and zest.
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Cookie Base and Topping Ingredients:

  1. 1/4 cup (60 ml) sunflower or other light-tasting oil, preferably organic
  2. 1/3 cup (80 ml) agave nectar, light or dark
  3. 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  4. 2/3 cup (80 g) barley flour
  5. 1 cup (135 g) whole spelt flour
  6. 1/4 tsp (1 ml) baking powder
  7. 1/4 tsp (1 ml) baking soda
  8. 1/4 tsp (1 ml) fine sea salt
  9. 1/4 tsp (1 ml) cinnamon
  10. 1 Tbsp (15 ml) finely ground flax seeds


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  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a 9 inch (22.5 cm) square pan with parchment paper, or spray with non-stick spray.
  3. Make the Filling: In a small, heavy-bottomed pot, combine the juice, 3 'Tbsp (45 ml) agave nectar, grapefruit zest, orange jext and figs. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, covered, 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 more minutes. (see cooking tips above)
  4. Meanwhile, make the cookie base and topping: In a small boil, whisk together the oil, 1/3 cup (80 ml) agave nectar and vanilla. Set aside.
  5. In a large bowl, sift together the barley flour, spelt flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add the ground flax seed and stir to combine.
  6. Pour the wet mixture over the dry and stir until you have a soft dough. Pat about 2/3 of the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan (it will be a very thin layer).
  7. Spread the fig mixture evenly over the base, then crumble the rest of the cookie mixture over the top of the filling *there will not be enough dough left to cover all the filling; just crumble it in random bits and blobs, distributing it as evenly as possible).
  8. Bake in preheated overn 25 - 30 minutes, rotating pan about halfway through, until edges are golden.
  9. Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares.
  10. Makes 12 - 16 squares. May be frozen.
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Savvy Veg Recipe Tips:

About Figs: I used black mission figs, which seem to vary widely in freshness. The ones I had were pretty dried out, so I pre-soaked them in boiling water, then cooked them according to Ricki's directions. But after 15 minutes, they were still stubbornly intact.

So I fished out the figs and whizzed them in the food processor, then added them back to the liquid. An alternative method would be to chop the figs into small pieces before cooking.

When it came to the cookie base and topping, I didn't want to mess around with parchment paper, so I just lightly oiled the pan and I was able to spread the dough easily. To make the remaining dough more crumbly, I rubbed in 2 more Tbsp spelt flour, and it became magically crumbly.

In her dessert cookbook, Sweet Freedom, Ricki Heller recommends using a rubber spatula to scrape out the measuring containers, an excellent tip for getting every last bit of these precious ingredients!

Recipe Comments:

I made these, just now. No citrus left, so used a big knob of fresh ginger chopped finely and water to cook the figs in. They smelt so good coming out of the oven, we had to sample them. Winner! Thanks SV - Heather H.

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