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Buttery Dried-Fruit Bars

These sweet, fiber-rich fruit bars are delicious eaten slightly warm with frozen yogurt, but they also make a wholesome lunch box treat. You can make the dough a week ahead and store it in the refrigerator, but the filling is easiest to spread the day it is made. Look for very moist dried figs and dates.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. dried Mission figs, stemmed and coarsely chopped 
  • 4 oz. pitted dates, chopped (about 1/2 cup) 
  • 1/4 cup water 
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar 
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice 
  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature 
  • 1 egg 
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract 
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour 
  • 1 tsp. baking powder 
  • 1/4 tsp. salt 

Directions:

In a heatproof bowl, combine the figs and dates. In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir together the water, 2 Tbs. of the brown sugar and the lemon juice until the mixture comes to a boil. Pour over the fruit, cover the bowl and let stand until cool, about 1 hour.

Transfer the fruit mixture, along with any unabsorbed liquid, to a food processor and puree until smooth. Scrape into a bowl, cover and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat together the butter and the remaining 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs. brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla. In another bowl, stir together the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking powder and salt. Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture, blending well. Divide the dough in half and wrap each portion in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat an oven to 375°F.

Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. On a floured board, roll out one portion of dough so it is just larger than the pan, about 1/4 inch thick, and trim with a knife into an 8-inch square. Fit the dough into the pan and spread the fruit evenly over the dough. Roll out and trim the remaining piece of dough in the same way and place over the fruit. Bake until golden brown on top, 20 to 25 minutes.

Run a knife around the inside edge of the pan and let cool completely, then invert onto a cutting board. Trim a thin strip from the edges, then cut into bars. Makes 16 bars.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Eat Well, by Charity Ferreira (Oxmoor House, 2008).