Fig + Cardamom "Cheesecake" Bars (GF)
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This week has been a cycle of: wake up, cuddle little Fox, tell Matt to give me back the sheets that he stole from me overnight, eat yogurt, do work things, do gym things (I've been on the elliptical a lot which I think looks really dumb from a bystander's perspective but when you're the actual human body on it, it feels like you're moon walking so it's a good thing in my book), shower, dinner, and then drinking beer! I've learned to love beer. It's taken years but I'm fully on a beer kick and I love it because it is fizzy and basically just liquid bread. My favorite are the dark ones that taste a little like coffee and chocolate but I also like the orange-ish ones that taste like citrus or something. I know pretty much nothing about beer as you can tell. But yeah that's pretty much been my week, except for... figs.
So the #figmergency of last week has blown over and lo and behold there are figs literally everywhere now. I walked into Whole Foods and saw them and just went into a slow-motion 80's drama style twirl - overcome with joy over how many figs were in front of me. Honestly if this were that one clay molding scene in Ghost, I'd be Patrick Swayze, figs would be Demi Moore, and these cheesecake bars would be the clay. It was that real.
Oh and Matt would maybe be Whoopi Goldberg, because he was in the movie but all of the true chemistry and attention was between me and the stand full of figs, at least for that one beautiful moment. Is this weird? Am I being weird?
Once a few minutes passed and I collected myself a bit and freshened up my makeup, we ended up with like four pints of huge fucking figs that were literally the size of plums, which, I ain't mad about. They've made their way into my yogurt bowls, Matt's daily 1500(!!!) calorie protein shakes(!!!), and then I think the rest got either baked into these bars or gently sliced raw and put on top of them as garnish. That's kind of the fun part of these bars - you get fig goodness two ways, one way involves them being tossed in raw sugar and cardamom and baked until gooey and oozy and amazing, and the other is in their pure, unadulterated natural and sexy raw incarnation. I'm honestly not sure which way I prefer, but having them both in one bite is pretty freaking dope so let's just stick to that.
The other thing I've got to address about these bars is that the word "cheesecake" is in quotes cause no, it's not really cheesecake, but more like a cheesecake cream thing I've been working on that falls somewhere between tasting like actual cheesecake and cream cheese frosting. I'm in love with it because of how smooth and sweet it is, and the fact that it takes like no effort to make, unlike real real cheesecake. Anyway, I hope you make these bad girls and eat them all up and laugh to yourself because that's what you should be doing anyhow.
Ok, full recipe below u guys!!
Fig + Cardamom "Cheesecake" Bars
1 pint + 3-4 figs (reserving the prettiest for the top garnish)
1 tablespoon raw sugar
1/2 teaspoon cardamom, divided in two
1 1/2 cups gluten-free instant or "quick" rolled oats
1/2 cup almond flour (or all-purpose flour if not making gluten free)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 t salt
1/2 cup super chilled unsalted butter ( 1 stick)
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
3 tablespoons milk
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and line a 9" x 9" brownie pan with parchment paper, leaving some overhang to act as "handles" for removing the finished bars from the pan (see above photo).
Chop up the pint of figs and toss them into a mixing bowl with the raw sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cardamom. Set aside.
In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the oats, almond flour (or AP flour), brown sugar, remaining 1/4 teaspoon cardamom, and salt. Use a box grater to grate in the butter* and cut in with a fork until there are no chunks of butter bigger than a pea. Press the mixture into the prepared pan to form an even layer that will become your crust for the bars. Scoop in the chopped figs and spread around evenly. Bake in the middle rack of the oven for 15 minutes. Remove and let cool to room temperature before sticking in the fridge. Let chill for at least half an hour.
While the crust is chilling, prepare the filling. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a mixing bowl with a handheld mixer) combine the cream cheese, milk, powdered sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Beat on high for 3 - 5 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed, until fluffy. Set aside in a cool place.
Once your crust has chilled for the appropriate amount of time, use an offset spatula to spread an even layer of the cream on top of it. Smooth it out (as best you can, at least) and pop back in the fridge for about half an hour to an hour, until the cream cheese filling has set somewhat.*
Thinly slice the remaining figs for the topping and, once your bars have set in the fridge, layer them on top. Remove the bars from the pan and use an extremely sharp knife to very carefully cut them into 9 pieces. Keep stored in the fridge until just before serving.
If you don't have a box grater or don't want to be bothered with it, cut the butter into little 1/4" cubes and use two knives to cut the butter into the oat mixture until it resembles coarse meal that doesn't have lumps of butter larger than a pea.
These bars aren't the best in super hot settings, as they'll kind of begin to fall apart. Think of them like icebox bars - you should take them out just before serving, but put the left overs in the fridge ASAP or they'll start to get gooey and melty and the crust will soften up a bit.
Need more #figspiration? We got u!