Orange scented dried fig and walnut bars

We are expecting some snow here this afternoon and somehow I always end up baking something when the weather is cold and windy!

Since the orange season is in full swing at the moment and fresh oranges are everywhere, I buy some whenever I go grocery shopping! We love them as is. They are a great snack on a cold day. But I also love using them in recipes! My mum’s orange jam is high on that list but I also love adding them to my desserts and baked goods. Like the orange and spiced chocolate marble cake that I shared with you a few days ago, the orange bars, orange and mango layered cake ,orange curd and rice pudding that you see below and of course the recipe that I am sharing with you today

Today’s recipes is one of my “aromatherapy recipes”!
You know, the recipes that fill the house with a cloud of aromas and spice and everything nice!
The floral smell of the orange zest, rich earthy nuttiness of the walnuts, the warm and comforting scents of cinnamon and cardamom, all blend into a heavenly combination that you just have to smell to appreciate.

Not only do these bars smell heavenly, the taste is the perfect match to all those beautiful scents. The chewy dried figs, perfectly compliment the crunch of the walnuts both playing against a canvas of spices and nutty wholewheat.

As you will notice as you go through the recipe below, this recipe can be made in two forms. Bars and biscotti. I got this recipe years ago from the Smitten kitchen.  But when I made it for the first time, my kids (who have to sample every biscotti recipe halfway through before the second bake!) loved it so much as bars that it never made it to the second bake!I have made it many many times over the years and I personally love it both ways but my kids still stand by their opinion and still like it as bars not biscotti. So do give this a try both ways and let me know which one you like best
The recipe written below is the one that I make nowadays. I have adapted it to our liking a little by making a few changes to the spices a and replacing half of the white flour with whole wheat. If you have dried figs on hand, do yourself a favor and give these bars a try, I promise the smell alone is worth it!


Orange, dried fig and walnut biscotti

Orange scented dried fig and walnut bars

1 cup toasted walnut chopped coarsely
1 cup dried figs chopped
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons or 3 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1/3 cup (6 tablespoons) brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Grated zest of a large orange
1 cup wholewheat flour
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (or 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons) unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon. ground cardamom

Instructions

  1. Cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula occasionally.
  3. Beat in the vanilla and the orange zest. Your wet mix is ready, set it aside.
  4. In another bowl, add all your dry ingredients: stir together the two types of flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
  5. Add the dry ingredients into the wet mixture and beat to form a somewhat firm dough.
  6. Add the walnuts and figs and beat until thoroughly combined.
  7. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic and chill 35 to 40 minutes or until completely firm.
  8. At this stage you have two options, you can either make bars or biscotti. If you decide to go with bars, spread the dough on a parchment lined baking sheet
  9. If you decide to make biscotti you can roll the piece of dough into a log on a floured surface and then transfer it to a baking sheet.
  10. Sprinkle the dough with granulated sugar. Bake at 180 C for 15 to 20 minutes until it is lightly golden brown, firm to the touch and just beginning to crack slightly.
  11. Allow the log/baking sheet to cool on a cookie sheet until cool to the touch, about 40 minutes.
  12. With a serrated knife, slice the biscotti, slightly on the bias, into 1/2-inch slices. Lay the slices on the cookie sheet in single layer (You may end up needing a second baking sheet in this step, as the cut pieces have a bigger surface area); Return the biscotti to the oven and cook for 20 more minutes, or until the biscotti are toasted and crisp.
  13. Store the biscotti in an airtight container. They will keep up to about 2 weeks.(that is if you can keep your hand off them for that long!)

Notes

  • You can prepare this recipe in the bowl of an electric mixer or by hand
  • To toast the walnuts: Preheat the oven to 150  degrees. Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast for 5 to 7 minutes, or until golden brown and fragrant. Allow the walnuts to cool completely

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