Sicilian Fig Bars {ModBak} — Move Over, Newtons!

When I saw this recipe in the Cookies, Bars, & Biscotti section of The Modern Baker, I knew I wanted to make them. I love figs, and I’m especially crazy about Fig Newtons. So I signed up for the official Modern Baker Challenge post and added figs to the grocery list. I have been trying to bake the recipes in this section in order, but once I had figs in the cupboard, I couldn’t wait to make these.

The ingredients list is short: figs, water, apricot preserves, dark rum, cinnamon, and cloves. And other than the figs, I had everything else on hand. After snipping the figs into a saucepan, I added the remaining ingredients, brought it to a boil, and simmered everything for 10 minutes or so, until the figs were soft.  I puréed the fig mixture in the food processor, then set it aside while I prepared the dough.


The dough for the fig bars is the same dough used to make biscotti regina. I made a double batch of the biscotti dough, half of which I used for the regina, and the other half to make these fig bars.

Beginning with 1/3 of the dough, I rolled it into a 12-inch rope.

I flattened the rope into a rectangle about 4 inches wide.

Then I spread 1/3 of the fig mixture on the dough,…

… folded the top half over the center,…

… and folded up the bottom half. I pressed the dough to seal it, then flipped it seam side down and put it on a cookie sheet.

I made three dough cylinders, which I put on an unrimmed cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

I baked the bars at 350°F for about 20 minutes, until the dough was firm and golden. As I removed the pan from the oven, I inadvertently tipped it ever so slightly. Unfortunately, given the flat, rimless cookie sheet and the slickness of the parchment paper, that was enough to send 2 of the 3 cookie bars sliding off the tray and onto the bottom of the oven. Note to self: next time, use a jellyroll pan.

I let the remaining bar cool, then cut it into cookies. They weren’t pretty, but they were delicious. Both the dough and filling reminded me of my beloved Fig Newtons, especially in texture. But the filling was much more flavorful. The apricot preserves added a little citrusy sweetness, while the rum, cinnamon, and cloves gave it a spicy depth.

My fig bars could never pass for Fig Newtons. But I would pass up Newtons for these fig bars any day.


  1. Pamela said,

    January 28, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    I only enjoy fig newtons once in a great while. But I have to say that these look really delicious.

    • gaaarp said,

      January 29, 2012 at 2:03 pm

      Thanks. I always get fig newtons when we’re traveling. It’s my favorite road trip snack. But I might make these to take along next time instead.

  2. January 22, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    […] wondering what I did with the other half of the dough, check back in a few days to read about my Sicilian Fig Bar (mis)adventure. Share […]

  3. Renee said,

    January 16, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    Oh no! I hope that wasn’t too bad of a mess in the oven! I’m glad you liked these. I got the wrong kind of fig and didn’t like it at all. The fig type matters!

    • gaaarp said,

      January 16, 2012 at 10:09 pm

      It’s a good thing Kayte didn’t make hers, then. She got the wrong figs, too. The mess wasn’t too bad, other than the crumbs that fell into the drawer under the oven.

  4. Abby said,

    January 12, 2012 at 9:29 am

    Yum! I am so excited to make these!!! I love fig newtons. And I feel better knowing that your cookies hit the floor of the oven after baking…I was picturing it happening at the beginning when you still needed the oven to bake and the dough was still mushy. So glad you were able to save a row! 🙂

    • gaaarp said,

      January 12, 2012 at 9:12 pm

      I actually saved a row and a half!

      • Abby said,

        January 22, 2012 at 10:24 am

        I can’t find the calimyrna figs anywhere….any ideas?!?

        • gaaarp said,

          January 22, 2012 at 11:56 am

          I think you could make it with Mission figs without a problem. I have both at home, and they don’t look that different.

  5. Kayte said,

    January 12, 2012 at 8:19 am

    These look delightful and I am betting I would pass up the packaged ones for these as well. Great process photos, it all looks nicely done to me. Fail? What fail? I don’t see a fail. I can never find that kind of figs, I look and look and nary a one to be found around here. I will keep looking. All I can find is mission figs. Good enough but I want to try the ones you have used.

    • gaaarp said,

      January 12, 2012 at 9:11 pm

      The first store only had mission figs, so I bought them. Then I found the right ones, so I guess I’ll be eating some mission figs for lunch!

  6. Melanie said,

    January 12, 2012 at 7:57 am

    Oh my gosh these look yummy. You can even see the teeny seeds in the fig filling. I love those little crunchy seeds. Hubby adores fig newtons so I need to make these soon. They look really easy to make from your pictures. So sorry you lost those two bars. I hate it when things like that happen in the kitchen.

    • gaaarp said,

      January 12, 2012 at 9:08 pm

      They were worth the effort and partial disaster. If he likes newtons, he will probably love these cookies.

  7. Margaret said,

    January 12, 2012 at 5:46 am

    My Dad’s fave cookie is Fig Newton so if I made these he would get ALL of them.
    Sorry about your cookie FALL. You DID salvage some, right? U are not alone in doing that but mine usually on floor, with dog handy!!!
    Nice process pics.

    • gaaarp said,

      January 12, 2012 at 9:06 pm

      The dog was standing at the ready, but I kept him from climbing into the oven after the spill.

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