The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Friday, 7 September 2012

Fig and Cream Cheese Bars

On Monday, the lovely Stephanie of The Travelling Tastebuds came to Hong Kong for brunch and a baking date. As we were arranging this visit via email, Steph's excitement at baking was apparent. She doesn't have an oven in her apartment in Shenzhen, and this was her first time baking since moving to China from California. While I do have a small counter-top oven which I use regularly for cooking dinner, it had been months since I last used it for yummy baked goodies. She chose several recipes which we narrowed down to two, but this Fig and Cream Cheese Bars recipe was the clear choice. The recipe was taken from Cooking Light via this website. While I prefer recipes with weight measurements (due to the fact that a "1 cup" measurement can mean anything between 200mL to 284mL depending on which country the recipe is from), we managed fine with the cup and spoon measurements that I have in my kitchen. We followed the recipe closely, so the recipe below is almost verbatim from the website.

Stephanie working her magic in the kitchen:

The bars turned out pretty well, and both Steph and I enjoyed the finished product. However, it turns out that this may not be to everyone's taste, as hubby wasn't keen on it. This was the first time in our eleven years that he didn't like something I baked (he cheekily said I could blame it on the other cook! I refuse to, because Steph and I were a good team). I tried to figure out just what wasn't agreeable with his tastebuds, and he said the cream cheese topping just didn't go well with the rest of it. He thought the fig filling was delicious on its own, as was the crust. A reviewer on the recipe website also gave similar remarks. Well, it just meant more for my tummy! I may try this recipe again but with a crumble topping instead of a cream cheese topping.

Click here for Steph's write-up.

Fig and Cream Cheese Bars


1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (about 6 ounces)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
Cooking spray [we used butter for greasing]
2 cups dried figs, stems removed
1 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup (6 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg


Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, brown sugar, and salt, stirring well with a whisk. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Press mixture firmly into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray [or greased with butter].

Preheat oven to 170°C.

Combine figs, water, and 1/4 cup granulated sugar in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook 5 minutes or until figs are tender and sugar dissolves. Cool slightly. Place fig mixture and juice in a blender; process until smooth. Gently spread fig mixture over prepared crust.

Place remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar, cheese, vanilla, and egg in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Pour over fig mixture; spread to edges. Bake at 170°C for 30 minutes or until set and lightly browned. Cool in pan on a wire rack.

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