Fig Bars With Oatmeal And Walnuts
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Preserved summer figs inspired my recipe for these easy fig and oatmeal bars that’ll help to round out the holiday cookie tins prettily! Not a fan of figs? My quick method for preserving fresh figs can be applied to any in-season berry you like!
All images and text ©Jenny DeRemer for Not Entirely Average, LLC
Fig Bars With Oatmeal And Walnuts
Four ingredient fresh fig preserves are a wonderful way to use up those fresh figs before they fall to waste! For those who are fortunate enough to host a fig tree in their yard, you know the struggle of the harvest. Figs come in FAST once they begin to ripen. What is not plucked from the tree falls to the ground and pretty immediately spoils. With my method for this easy four ingredient preserve, your bounty will last well into the fall and winter months to be enjoyed again and again!
I grew up on fig newtons. Seriously. They may have been the only ‘fruit nutrients’ I ingested for a time there. But in my teens I had my eyes opened to numerous fresh fig dessert recipes by way of a neighbor with a fig tree. She was always seeking fresh fig recipes for her zillion figs that began ripening around the July Fourth holiday.
In the beginning, it was mainly homemade fig newtons and sugar free fig newtons she had mastered. I was maybe thirteen, so in my estimation, anybody who had a fig newton recipe who also needed leaves raked or their porch swept was going to get a top notch job from me!
At some point, the dessert fig became her focus. Fig bar recipes were on the back burner and compotes, puddings, and liquor-infused chocolate figs were all her rage.
I suppose they appealed to the adults more than me. C’est la vie. But…I was sure to get a copy of another dessert bar she did well, this one with fresh figs. I am sharing it with you today…
Additional Fabulous Figgy Recipes To Try!
Marinated Fresh Fig And Mozzarella Salad
A Fig Prosciutto And Gorgonzola Pizza
Figs with Roquefort and Honey
How This Recipe Came About…
My friend Sarah has a fig tree in her yard. In fact, she has two. Sarah and I became friends because of her fig tree, my keen observation during a yard sale she was hosting when my eyes wandered over the fence.
Sarah, like so many here in the South, struggles with the amount of figs her trees yield during those steamy two weeks every summer fondly known as “fig time.” I kind of offered to help her out and take some of those beauties off her hands. You know, I’m helpful that way…
What to do with my daily haul was a dilemma past day three. Oh yeah, did I mention that there is a need to pick daily? Sarah was all too happy to do the picking on the days I couldn’t get to her, but there were other days that I climbed that ladder in the Charleston heat to grab the gold myself.
A lovely not-too-tart, not-too-sweet fig preserve became the best way to process the basketfuls. I sealed them in a hot bath and set the jars on the counter while waiting for the metal tops to pop and clink. And with those gorgeous preserves did arise these figgy oatmeal bars.
Do You Have What’s Needed For Fig Bars With Oatmeal And Walnuts? Check The List!
for the cookie bars
all purpose flour
whole wheat flour
quick cooking oats
a batch of fig preserves or preserves using this method with any in-season berry
for the fig preserves
fresh figs or other in-season berry
lemon juice and zest
Do I Have To Can Preserves Just To Make These Oatmeal Fig Cookie Bars?
No! Not at all. In fact, the recipe for the preserves makes just enough for one batch of these cookie bars. So, no canning whatsoever if you want to yield these bars alone.
If however, you are somebody with a tree or access to loads of fresh figs, know they are easily preserved using my recipe found here together with a formal canning method if you have the know how.
Can I Use Store-Bought Preserves Instead Of Making My Own?
Yes. Any store-bought preserve would work in this recipe. I recently experimented with a mango curd and it was lovely. The only thing I noticed was that the bars were slightly runnier with this particular preserve.
Would Fig And Oatmeal Bars Be Good For A Cookie Exchange?
GOSH DARN YES!!! I miss the cookie exchanges we used to have back in the day because now that I blog about food, I have a hundred fabulous EASY cookie and bar and square recipes that would be great for a cookie exchange or cookie baking party, this being among them.
What Can I Substitute For The Figs In This Recipe?
If you do not have access to fresh figs but want a fresh preserve, use this method for a fruit preserve using any fresh berry that is in season. I have also used apples that I have cubed very small and cooked gently for just a bit longer.
If mixing fruits is your jam (did you catch that; a jelly pun!), try fresh raspberries to the fresh figs for a raspberry fig bar recipe. Chopped fresh cherries are also very good simmered down with the figs. Not too sweet, not too tart. Just really something reminiscent of an old fashioned fig bars recipe that granny might have baked.
This method also works well for bananas and lychee fruit. Just know that you may have to spend additional time gently cooking the moisture out to a stickier and more viscous consistency for these bars.
If the preserve is too runny prior to cooling it, it will be too runny to set up in the bars. Think ‘chutney consistency’ as a means to gauge by.
If you ever over-cook and feel the mixture is too dense, simply grab a wire whisk and add one tablespoon of orange juice at a time to thin the mixture out.
Can I Substitute Another Nut For The Walnuts?
Absolutely. Any nut works, some better than others. If I’m honest, macadamias are my favorite next to the walnuts. Mix a couple varieties if you feel creative.
How Long Do Fig And Oatmeal Bars Take To Prepare?
In all, you are looking at two-ish hours for this recipe. Remember though, that it is broken into parts. There are three parts to this recipe, two parts if you go the “using your own and already canned preserves,” or the store-bought preserves route.
If planning to make the homemade fig mixture filling as I present the method here on Not Entirely Average, plan to spend about 1 hour on this alone. During the time the recipe for fig filling is simmering away, you could be prepping the cookie dough base as well as the crumble topping. Then you’d really only need to spend the time baking them off respectively.
The cookie bars are the easy (two) parts. They bake twice, hence the ‘two;’ once for the cookie base and again with the jammy middle and lux oatmeal walnut topping. Combined, those two bakes take about 30 minutes.
If I am planning on baking a batch of these, I now make the fig preserves ahead. BUT…this is usually because I am also triple and quadruple batching the preserves due to an overage of figs. If you’re only making enough for the cookie bars, processing the preserves the same day is absolutely doable.
Modifying The Norm To Make It Not Entirely Average…
So, something fun…use a strawberry preserve (use my method for the preserves and simply substitute strawberries for the fresh figs), and use chopped, salted peanuts in lieu of the walnuts for a not entirely average PB&J cookie bar.
If looking for figs but you have no access to fresh, dried figs are always an option. Simply reconstitute 8 to 10 ounces of well chopped dried figs in one cup of water with a scant amount of granulated sugar, say 1/4 cup. Cook for anywhere between 5 and 10 minutes over medium high heat until the figs are very, very tender and squish easily with the back of a wooden spoon.
For variations to the oatmeal walnut crumble topping, consider adding mini chocolate chips for a bar that merges fig newtons with chocolate chip cookies.
Alternatively, when the bars are pulled from the oven and still piping hot, a tablespoon drizzle of real maple syrup says autumn like nothing else!
Can Homemade Fig Bars Be Made Ahead?
Yes. If you need to make these ahead for a gathering or for an exchange around the holidays, they may be made ahead and baked up to three days in advance. Keep refrigerated until thirty minutes prior to serving. Slice while cold for crisper and cleaner edges.
Can These Fig Bars Be Frozen?
This is the beauty of this recipe. Yes, yes, and YES! I like to cut parchment paper to fit a lidded and freezer safe container. Depending on how deep the container is, you may be able to freeze several layers of these bars by using the parchment underneath and between the layers.
Freeze for up to three months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Pull from the refrigerator thirty minutes before planning to serve so that when you begin to separate the bars, the crumble topping isn’t compromised.
Fig Bars With Oatmeal And Walnuts
- 8 x 8-inch baking pan or 9 x 9-inch baking pan
- non-stick sauce pan
- ½ cup + 3 tablespoons unsalted butter divided; 1/2 cup softened, 3 tablespoons very cold and cubed
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup all purpose flour divided
- ¼ cup whole wheat flour
- ¼ cup brown sugar packed; light or dark
- ¼ cup quick cooking oats
- ¼ cup walnuts chopped
- 1 batch fresh fig preserves
find my single batch recipe for fig preserves here
- Heat oven to 350°F. Spray an 8 x 8-inch or 9 x 9-inch square pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
- In the barrel of a food processor, combined the softened 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, granulated sugar, and the vanilla extract. Pulse until well blended. Add in 3/4 cups all purpose flour and 1/4 cup whole wheat flour. Pulse gently until a soft dough ball forms and gathers.
- Remove the dough from the barrel. Press into the bottom of the prepared baking pan using the flat bottom of a measuring cup to press and even out the layer. Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until golden and set. Allow to cool 20 minutes.
- Once cooled, spread the fresh fig preserves over the cookie crust. Use a rubber spatula to smooth the layer out and evenly spread.
- Again using the food processor, pulse the remaining 1/4 cup all purpose flour, brown sugar, and 3 tablespoons very cold butter cubes until crumbly. Add the oats and the chopped walnuts and pulse 3 more times. Use your hands to sprinkle over the fig filling making sure to break up any large chunks.
- Bake 15 to 20 minutes longer or until edges are bubbly and topping is light golden brown. Remove from the oven to a wire rack and cool completely, about 1 hour. Cut into 4 rows by 4 rows yielding 16 perfectly bite-sized cookie bars. Uneaten bars should be stored in a lidded container. Refrigerate if not serving immediately.
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