Vegan Almond Fig Bars

I bought a big bag of dried figs a while back thinking I was going to make something fabulous with them, and I got around to making a few things but still had a lot left since it was a 3 lb bag.  It has been in my fridge ever since, and every time I dig to the back of the fridge, I see it and say to myself, I should make some fig bars.  Well, the last time I saw them I finally said, today is the day.  I was in a baking mood, and nothing else was standing out to me as something good to make, so it was perfect timing.  I was always a fan of Fig Newtons growing up, and I have thought about making a vegan version of those, but you know what? I like date bars even better, so I thought why not make a date bar style bar with a fig filling.  I used to make a really good date bar before I went vegan. If you are not sure what date bars I am talking about, I am talking about the ones with the crumble type filling.  Those are awesome.

Vegan Almond Fig Bars 3

But, I was going to one up the ones I used to make before I went vegan and make them  with an almond crust.  Almonds love dates after all.  Or at least they go beautifully together.  The dough kind of reminded me of peanut butter cookie dough, but it was made with almond butter.  So good for sampling.  I love sampling dough.  Which I am sure you know if you have been following this blog a while.  I made a jammy fig filling scented with orange and a little vanilla sweetened with a little maple syrup and it was heavenly.  it would have been good on toast with almond butter had I not been using it all in this recipe.

Vegan Almond Fig Bars

They baked up beautifully, just as I had imagined.  The crust was buttery, nutty and aromatic with almonds, the filling jammy, sweet and delicious.  These are the type of treat you would hope to find home made in a coffee shop to go with your morning tea or coffee.  Or the type of thing my Mom would pack in my lunch as a kid.  She liked to make bars because she said they were easier than cookies.  Anyways, these were sooo good.  Sometimes it is kind of fun to use ingredients you already have on hand that you find in your refrigerator!

Vegan Almond Fig Bars 4

Vegan Almond Fig Bars
Makes 16 bars

1 1/4 cups dried figs
3/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/8 tsp sea salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup coconut oil, warmed to liquid
3/4 cup coconut sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 Tbsp aquafaba (or flax egg)*
1 cup almond butter
1 1/2 cups all purpose gluten free flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
2/3 cup sliced almonds

To make the filling, combine the figs and orange juice in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer, and cook at a low heat until the figs are hydrated, about 10-15 minutes. Add to a food processor with all other ingredients and process until a jam like consistency. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350F degrees with the rack set in the center position. Line a 9x9 inch square pan with parchment, and/or grease it with coconut oil.
Whisk the coconut oil and sugar together in a bowl with the vanilla and aquafaba until the sugar starts to dissolve. Then add the almond butter and mix until combined. Add the flour, baking powder, sea salt and stir in until well blended. Spread 2/3 of this mixture over the bottom of the pan, pressing it to the edges with your fingers. Then spread the filling over that with a spoon or offset spatula. Drop chunks of the remaining dough over that, and sprinkle with the almonds. Bake for about 45 minutes until lightly browned and set. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before cutting into bars.

*Aquafaba is the liquid of chickpeas, either canned or leftover from cooking. You want it to be thick like egg whites once cooled. If it isn't then place it in a sauce pan and reduce it until it is thicker then cool before using. If you want to use a flax egg in this recipe, simply mix together 3 Tbsp filtered water and 1 Tbsp ground flax seed and refrigerate for 15 minutes before using.

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