After long days as a young pastry chef, James’s favorite snack was a fig bar made at a tiny bakeshop in Philadelphia owned by Grace Kelly’s niece. That shop has long since closed, so to satisfy his fig bar craving, James had to develop his own version. It’s now one of our more popular treats, with a not-too-sweet crust and a gooey, figgy center.
Makes 24 bars.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- I large egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. In the bowl of a heavy duty mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla. With the mixer at low speed, gradually add the flour mixture into the butter mixture until combined. Remove the dough from the bowl and shape into a rectangle. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour or overnight.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the figs and water; bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer until the figs are soft and tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer the figs and the cooking liquid to a food processor; add the preserves and lemon juice and zest. Process until smooth.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or use nonstick baking sheets.
- Pour the filling into a pastry bag fitted with a ½ inch round tip. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 24 x 6 inch rectangle. Pipe a ½ inch wide strip of filling down the center of the rectangle. Fold each long side of the rectangle toward the center of the strip of filling, so that the sides overlap slightly. Cut the dough crosswise into two 12 inch logs; refrigerate 15 minutes or overnight.
- In a small bowl, beat together the egg and the milk. Transfer each log, seam-side down, to a cutting board. Brush with the egg glaze, then sprinkle with the crystal sugar. Cut each log into twelve 1 inch-thick slices; place, 2 inches apart, on the prepared baking sheets. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheets between the upper and lower oven racks halfway through baking, until golden brown. Transfer the bars to wire racks to cool completely.
- 2 cups dried Black Mission figs, stems removed
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup raspberry preserves
- Juce and grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon milk
- 2 tablespoons crystal sugar*
You don't have to be a master baker like Metropolitan's James Barrett to make delicious French-inspired delights at home. Here are several favorites—some savory, some sweet—adapted by James for the home chef.