Saturday, March 10, 2012

I'm also big on the "takeout-to-table" movement

The whole "farm-to-table" thing?

Adore the whole concept.
Huge fan.
Haven't quite gotten there*.

"Stuff from Trader Joe's-to-table" cooking?
Nailed it**.

Spicy Gingerbread Fig Bars
Born of necessity and a chance fig butter sighting when I had less than an hour before the book club showed up, these deeply flavorful bars are outrageously good. As a bonus, they take about 5 minutes to prepare, and you won't get a single mixing bowl or measuring cup dirty along the way.  If only the title character in our book, The Tiger's Wife***, had had things this easy:

Buy 2 packages of these:

And one of these:

Preheat oven to 350.

Place 15 of the cookies (1 1/4 packages) into a 9x13 baking pan. 

 Using your fingers, press the dough into the bottom of the pan.

Bake for 8 minutes, until puffed but not completely cooked.
Spread the fig butter in an even layer over the dough.   Then, crumble the remaining nine cookies over the top of that.  It is OK if some of the fig butter shows through.

The cookies come with this adorable little packet of sanding sugar.  You'll have two, but you only need one for this recipe.  Open one of them up, and sprinkle evenly over the bars. 

Bake for 15-18 more minutes, or until topping is deep golden brown and feels crispy to the touch.

Cool completely and serve.  

Variations:  Try a different flavor of fruit butter or use fruit preserves...I'm thinking apricot or cherry would be marvelous.  Sprinkle 1/2 c. chopped toasted pecans (also available at Trader Jos's!) over the top along with the cookie dough crumbles, to an element of crunch.

To me, these taste like an old fashioned Christmas in every bite.  The ginger and other spices give the dough real, almost peppery bite.  When combined with the deep and subtle fig flavors, the whole thing becomes incredibly indulgent.  As for texture, the bottom and top are crispy, then the middle layer is soft and chewy.  Wow! 

Click to print this recipe!

* For one thing, I don't have a farm, although I'm thinking of putting in a few tomato plants soon.  And for another thing, I WORK.
** Again. See "Easy as Pie Pie" and "The best 20 minute meal you'll ever have", just to name two other winners from the world's greatest grocery store.
*** A tough book to get into at first, but in the end I couldn't put it down. Interconnected stories of a girl, her grandfather, a tiger and the lives the three of them touch, set in a fictionalized Balkan country.  There aren't any farms per se, but there is a vineyard with a dead body in a suitcase. Highly recommended. 


  1. I was so excited to make these with my mom but the Trader Joes in her neighborhood doesn't carry the cookie dough.

  2. I know! I've been back twice myself and they're out. The manager told me this is a seasonal cookie, and will hopefully be back after the summer. Boo!