Confession #132: Life overwhelms me… Brown Butter Hazelnut Fig Bars

by alexandra

Brown Butter Hazelnut Fig Bars | brighteyedbaker.com

How is it that it’s been more than two weeks since I started talking about this hazelnut recipe? There I was, being all efficient and explaining how to toast and skin hazelnuts in preparation for this post, and then… woah… two weeks go by and the post still isn’t up.

Brown Butter Hazelnut Fig Bars | brighteyedbaker.comKinda like how it’s already August, when the last time I checked the summer was just starting. I’m barely in my twenties and life already feels like it’s moving too fast… sheesh.

Brown Butter Hazelnut Fig Bars | brighteyedbaker.comLet’s just forget about that for a second and talk about something good, like… THESE BARS. And brown butter. And hazelnuts. And sweet, fresh, summer figs. Yes. I’m not sure I can even explain to you how good these are. I mean I’ll try (of course), but is it really even necessary? I think the name says it all.

Brown Butter Hazelnut Fig Bars | brighteyedbaker.comI know everyone is really excited about peaches coming in season (me too!), but – hey – figs are in season now too! Figs always seem to be an under-the-radar fruit, and I seriously feel like the luckiest person ever to be able to get them in my own backyard every summer. The best ones (in my opinion), the ones that are really soft and practically fall of the tree when you touch them, with skin that looks like it’s drying up just a tad from the sun, have such an incredibly sweet, concentrated flavor that I can’t get enough of. And now that I’m on a hazelnut kick, and since I’m always on a brown butter kick, I knew I had to create something that would combine all three flavors. The result? Serious Perfection.

Brown Butter Hazelnut Fig Bars | brighteyedbaker.comEvery bite is jam-packed with flavor, from the bold brown butter/hazelnut combination in the crust and crumb topping to the naturally sweet and nutty fig filling. And by the end of this post, I know I’ll have said the words “rich” “sweet” and “nutty” a million times over, but I honestly can’t thick of any better words to describe these. Or maybe it’s just because these fig bars are so good, my mind can’t fully function around them. Could be….

Brown Butter Hazelnut Fig Bars | brighteyedbaker.comA few things about these before I give you the recipe:

1) They’re really easy to make! The base layer and the crumb topping come from the same batter, and the fig filling is a throw-it-in-the-blender kind of thing. Easy.

2) If you can find hazelnut meal and want to buy it, you don’t have to toast, skin, and grind your own hazelnuts. But if you do decide to go the DIY method, you might want to toast and skin the hazelnuts the day before you make the bars. The toasting/skinning process can be tedious, so you might need a break after that. You know, for the sake of your sanity. ;)

3) If you can’t eat hazelnuts, or don’t like them (who are you?! – just kidding), or just don’t want to be bothered with dealing with them, you can use almond meal in this recipe. Obviously, the flavor will be different, but it’s still delicious that way. (See recipe notes for more on this).

Brown Butter Hazelnut Fig Bars

Cook Time: 30 minutes

16 bars (or 9, if sliced larger)

Brown Butter Hazelnut Fig Bars

These three-layer bars have a rich, nutty hazelnut flavor that perfectly compliments the sweet fig filling in the middle. An easy batter makes both the dense bottom layer and the golden crumble topping, which means you can whip these up in no time!

Ingredients

    Base and Crumb Topping
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" slices
  • 5 3/4 ounces (1 3/8 cup, spoon and level) all-purpose flour, divided
  • 6 ounces (1 1/4 cups) toasted and skinned (whole) hazelnuts*
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 ounces (2/3 cup, packed) brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Fig Filling
  • 15 1/4 ounces (2 1/4 cups) chopped Calimyrna figs
  • 1 3/4 ounces (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line an 8" square baking pan with foil, leaving enough foil hanging over the sides to lift the bars from the pan when done baking.
  2. Brown the butter: Place the butter in a small fry pan set over medium-low heat. Allow the butter to melt, whisking occasionally, until it starts to bubble. Once it bubbles, continue to whisk more frequently, cooking the butter until it turns golden and small brown specks appear on the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat immediatley and continue to whisk for about 30 seconds. Transfer to a large bowl to cool briefly.
  3. While the butter is cooking, combine 4 1/4 ounces (1 cup, spoon and level) flour with hazelnuts in the bowl of a food processor.** Process until the entire mixture is fine in texture, similar to that of a nut meal, stopping to wipe down the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed to prevent clumping. Add the cinnamon, baking soda, and salt and pulse in until evenly combined.
  4. While the butter is cooling, combine the ingredients for the fig filling (figs, sugar, corn starch, lemon juice, and salt) in a blender and blend until completely smooth.
  5. Add the brown sugar to the slightly cooled brown butter and whisk together until well-combined. Add egg and vanilla and whisk in until smooth. Add dry ingredients and fold in until just combined with no streaks of the dry ingredients visible.
  6. Set aside 6 3/4 ounces (3/4 cup) batter and transfer the remaining batter to prepared baking pan. Using your fingertips or a flat, wide spatula, press batter into the pan in a flat, compact layer that covers the bottom entirely. Spread the fig filling on top in an even layer to cover the first layer, shaking the pan back and forth gently to smooth out the fig layer.
  7. Add the remaining 1 1/2 ounces (3/8 cup, spoon and level) flour to the reserved batter and rub in with fingertips until incorporated into a crumbly dough with no dry flour visible. Crumble over the bars, ensuring that the fig layer is covered entirely.
  8. Bake bars in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until the crumble topping is just barely starting to turn golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool bars in pan on a wire rack. Once cool, use foil to lift bars from pan and slice with a bench scraper (works really well!) or a knife. Store in an airtight container.

Notes

*If you don't want to use hazelnuts, you can substitute 6 ounces (1 1/2 cups) almond meal. The flavor of the bars will be different, but still really good! You can also use pre-made hazelnut meal if you prefer; just make sure it's fresh.

**If using almond meal or pre-made hazelnut meal, all of the dry ingredients can simply be whisked together in a bowl.

http://brighteyedbaker.com/2013/08/19/brown-butter-hazelnut-fig-bars/

P.S. Speaking of being behind, I still have some strawberry recipes I want to share. Are you guys still getting good strawberries where you are?

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Laura (Tutti Dolci) August 19, 2013

Love these flavors!

Tieghan August 19, 2013

Brown butter rules and yeah, life totally overwhelms me too! Time goes WAY to fast!

At least we can make these bars and feel better!
Tieghan recently posted..15 Minute Creamy Cashew Sun-Dried Tomato Basil Pappardelle PastaMy Profile

alexandra August 20, 2013

Haha YES! Baking is such a good way of making life better, right? And brown butter is the best!

Consuelo @ Honey & Figs August 20, 2013

You couldn’t have punt any more favourites of mine into these bars. I loooooove this combo and I can’t wait to try it. I wish our yard’s figs were ripen yet :((
And yes, indeed time goes so far, how is it almost fall now??
Consuelo @ Honey & Figs recently posted..Whole Wheat Beer Bread / Pan de Cerveza IntegralMy Profile

alexandra August 20, 2013

Exactly!! It seems like the year was just starting not that long ago. Hope your figs get ripe soon so you can make these!

Ashley August 20, 2013

These bars sound amazing – I’ve been seeing loads of fresh figs at the store lately and have just been passing them by. I think I need to rethink that and make these!

alexandra August 20, 2013

Yes, you do!! Don’t pass on the figs next time! :)

Belinda @themoonblushbaker August 20, 2013

I have to wait a bit before i get figs in Australia but when I do this on the top of fig bake list. Hazel nut meal is so under rated but I like to better than almond meal. So much more flavourful.
We are greating pretty good strawberries down under but cost an arm and leg some times. I want to make ice cream with them, mascarpone and drunken strawberry ice cream of course.

alexandra August 20, 2013

Please, please, please make these when you get your figs! Oh my gosh – SO good! And I agree, hazelnut meals wins against almond meal, hands down. I mean, there are times when almond meal is better suited to a recipe, but when it comes to flavor, hazelnut meal all the way!
That ice cream sounds amaaazing! Too bad strawberries are so expensive there. :(

Jamie@Milk N Cookies August 20, 2013

I love every ingredient in this recipe, and the combo of figs, brown butter, and hazelnuts sounds wonderfully unexpected. I’m off in search of figs now so I can whip up a batch for myself…

alexandra August 21, 2013

Thanks Jamie! The combo is… perfection, really. Let me know if you give these a try!

Laura (Blogging Over Thyme) August 20, 2013

These bars sound like fig newtons on crack–except so much better. I absolutely have to make these. The crumb topping, the fig, the brown butter, everything sounds so good, I can’t take it!

alexandra August 21, 2013

Haha thanks so much Laura! I guess these could be like fig newtons gone gourmet. So good!

sandra rose August 21, 2013

These bars are to die for, seriously! Thank you for putting this beautiful recipe on your website!

alexandra August 21, 2013

Of course! :)

Lisa May 25, 2014

I know this is an old post, but I was looking around on Pinterest for fig recipes and found this. I am obsessed with dried calimyrna figs right now and I keep eating the whole bag before I make anything! I’m wondering if you’ve ever tried the with dried figs when you don’t have fresh? Possibly add a bit of juice or water to the filling?

alexandra May 27, 2014

Hi Lisa,
I haven’t tested this recipe with dried figs, but I would suggest rehydrating them on the stove (with juice and/or water) first before blending with the other ingredients. I think that should work! Let me know if you give it a go. :)

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