When I was a kid sweets were not a frequent part of our household unless it was the holidays or a birthday. I spent a majority of my after school afternoons at my grandmother’s house waiting for my mom to get off work. The snacks Grandma kept for my afternoon stays were basic; cheese, nuts, fruit, and the occasional package of fig newtons. Needless to say I consumed a lot of fig newton’s given they were the only semi-sweet treat in the house.
Fast forward many years later. I still carried a love of fig newton’s but given our change in food habits, store bought fig newtons didn’t fit into our food lifestyle. Fig newtons were, in our minds, filled with over processed unknown not good for you ingredients. I didn’t think much of making my own fig newton’s until we moved to a property that had a fig tree. Upon having more figs than I knew what to do with (besides sharing with friends) my first attempt in cooking with figs was a pear and fig tart.
Although it was a tasty option I needed to find more recipes to use up the figs… fig jam seemed like the logical next step. The hubs did not approve. He was not a fan. The jam was not a flavor we were used to. It was a simple recipe of orange juice, sugar, pectin, and of course figs. Now here I sit with an abundance of fig jam and nothing to do with it. Then nostalgia set in and my memory of fig newton’s flooded back. Why couldn’t I try? I could use the fig jam as the filling!!
The crust or cookie outer layer of the newton was not as easy to figure out. Most of the recipes I came across were more like a shortbread than a soft cookie. I made a batch. They were OK but I gave up after one attempt. I like shortbread but as a healthy snack it didn’t fit; too much butter, sugar and not much else.
We eventually moved and said goodbye to the fig tree. I took with us several jars of fig jam that I had canned from the previous season. What was I going to do with this jam? I couldn’t waste it. I had to figure something out. Then it hit me; my graham cracker recipe! It was the perfect cookie consistency and something I felt good about making more than once a month. I got to work and made our first batch.
The result was fantastic! I finally did it… fig newtons, graham style… I made graham bars! The hubs and kiddo approved!
I was finally able to use up the last of the jars of fig jam by way of the graham bars but now what was I to do. I no longer had easy access to figs. The logical next step was to use different fillings. Why not get wild with our graham bars…
We made apple…
Blueberry monster faces of my niece and kiddo… who says kids can’t enjoy a healthy snack and still have fun…
and my favorite… apricot graham bars… all from local organic fruits in our community.
The graham bars are now a go-to in my snack arsenal for the kiddo. You can use any preserve, store bought or homemade. I choose to thicken up my filling by adding in a couple tablespoons of grass-fed gelatin. The blueberry filling didn’t need it because of its already natural heavy pectin content but the apricot needed some thickening. For purposes of this recipe I will reference the apricot but you can use any fruit preserve of your liking, with or without the gelatin added (just skip this step in the recipe and go straight to spreading out on the graham dough).
So here’s to bringing back childhood memories… with a twist… fig newtons graham style… Graham Bars… enjoy!!
350 (f) degrees for 25-30 minutes / 30+ graham bars depending on cut size
Graham Cracker Recipe
1 Pint Favorite Fruit Preserves (we’ll use apricot in this recipe)
2 tablespoons grass-fed gelatin (optional)
Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 (f) degrees
Step 2: Prepare a deep edge cookie sheet tray with parchment paper
Step 3: In a sauce pan whisk in 2 tablespoons of grass-fed gelatin with your favorite preserves (in this recipe we’re using my homemade apricot jam made with local organic apricots, spice, lemon juice and pectin). After well mixed, remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Step 4: Follow the instructions to make graham cracker dough here: Graham Cracker Recipe. Once you get to the rolling portion of this recipe move on to step 5 below.
Step 5: Cut your ball of chilled graham cracker dough in half. You’ll roll each half separately. Roll your dough in the shape of a rectangle, roughly a quarter inch thick. Transfer the rolled dough to your parchment paper lined cookie tray. The dough will be delicate so be prepared for breakage. It doesn’t have to be perfect… if it breaks, just press the dough back together! Now take your cooled preserves and spread a thin layer over the entire rectangle leaving a quarter inch space around all edges.
Step 6: Now carefully fold each side half way making sure the final fold overlaps the first fold. Press the ends together to keep the preserves from oosing out during cooking. Repeat step 5 and step 6 with your 2nd half of dough. I take a sheet of tin foil and crumple it up to create a barrier between the two halves as there will be spreading during the cooking process. This creates a barrier to avoid the two halves baking together into one.
Step 7: Place the cookie sheet on the center rack of a preheated 350 (f) degree oven for 25-30 minutes till edges are crisp and the graham is golden brown. Remove from oven and rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting. After cooled you may remove the tinfoil barrier and cut desired sized bars. I use a pizza cutter but any knife will do.
Step 8: ENJOY! Your graham bars will store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to a week… or the refrigerator for two plus weeks… if they last that long.
So there you have it… my take on the fig newton… only better! Graham bars. Use your favorite preserves of any kind and enjoy!