Whole Wheat Raspberry-Date Bars (Homemade Fig Newtons)
My 10-month-old baby boy has but only ONE tooth. It sprouted almost four months ago, and nothing has erupted from his gums since.
In spite of this, or perhaps because of it, he is determined to use the one lonely toofie to its full potential, eschewing purees and astonishing gnawing his way through things I’d think were impossible to conquer monotoothfully (new word) – like giant hunks of pineapple, for example.
In effort to coax the other pearly whites from beneath the surface, and to help him develop his eating skills despite his lack of chompers, I try to provide lots of chewy snacks.
I had one of these fig bars the other day (which are really good, by the way, and have my dietitian’s stamp-of-approval on the ingredient list) and Theo went crazy for it. So I decided to have a go at making something similar from scratch!
This is my version of Fig Newtons, but much, much better (taste-wise and nutritionally). I made them whole wheat flour, and the filling is sweetened only by dates. I actually think the filling is sweet enough to scale the sugar in the dough back to 1/3 cup, especially since their intention is to be a healthy snack not a cookie. Feel free to tinker…
The dough is a bit finicky, but forgiving. You’ll find it soft when rolling it out, and it may stick to the parchment, but it’s easy to press it all together with your fingers. And popping it into the fridge for a few minutes makes it much more workable.
To make the filling, you simply soak dates (or dried figs) in boiling water until soft, then puree with some fresh raspberries – I like the bit of tartness the berries offer to balance the caramel-sweetness of the dates.
I adapted the dough from this recipe. The bars freeze exceptionally well and thaw quickly for grab-and-go snacks.
- 1 cup chopped, pitted dates, packed
- boiling water
- 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 cup raspberries (thawed, if from frozen)
- Place dates in medium bowl and cover with boiling water; set aside to soak.
- Beat butter and sugar together in standing mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, then vanilla and salt. With mixer speed on low, gradually incorporate flour; beat until fully combined.
- Divide dough between two floured parchment paper sheets at least 14″ long; refrigerate 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drain dates in a fine sieve, then puree in a food processor or blender along with raspberries to make the filling.
- Remove first half of dough from the fridge. Dust top with flour and top with another equal-sized sheet of parchment paper. Roll out between parchment sheets into a rectangle 12×6″. Use a sharp knife to cut in score the dough in half both lengthwise and crosswise. Set aside and repeat with second half of dough.
- Use a small spoon to divide the filling along the inner edge of each of the long strips of dough, leaving about a 1/4″ inside border (as pictured). Use a floured bench scraper or metal spatula to fold dough over filling. If filling is too soft to handle, put it in the fridge for a minute to firm up (but not too long or it’ll be too stiff to fold and start to crack – if this happens just let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes then try again. Even if it cracks, it’s ok. Repeat with second half of dough. Slice evenly crosswise to make a double strip of bars (the two batches yield grand total 32 bars).
- Slide the first double strip of bars, parchment and all, onto a rimless baking sheet and bake about 20 minutes, until golden on the bottom and firmed up on top. Repeat with second batch. (Or bake both at the same time, rotating sheets between oven racks halfway through baking). Transfer to wire racks to cool.