More panforte than Fig Newton, these chewy bars are a combination of dried figs, honey, spices, and toasted nuts. They’re sturdy enough to slip into your pocket before you hit the slopes, and will keep you energized all day long.
Special equipment: Use a candy thermometer to know when the honey mixture is done cooking.
Game plan: Hazelnuts are typically sold with their thin, dark skins still attached. You can easily rub the skins off with a clean kitchen towel after toasting the nuts. Don’t worry if there are a few bits left—they’ll add color and flavor.
To crush the fennel seeds, seal them in a plastic bag, place them on a countertop, and tap on them using the bottom of a pot or a rolling pin until they are lightly crushed. You can also use a mortar and pestle.
- Yield: 36 bars
- Difficulty: Medium
- Total: 1 hr
- Active: 25 mins
- 1 cup whole, toasted, skinned hazelnuts (about 5 ounces)
- 1 cup whole, toasted almonds (about 5 ounces)
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 1/4 teaspoons finely grated orange zest (from 1 medium orange)
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, lightly crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 8 ounces dried black Mission figs, stemmed and thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup honey
- Heat the oven to 300°F. Coarsely chop hazelnuts and almonds and set aside. Coat a 10-inch springform pan with butter and flour and set aside. Stir together flour, cocoa powder, orange zest, fennel seeds, cinnamon, and cloves in a large bowl until evenly mixed. Add nuts and figs and stir to coat.
- In a small saucepan, stir together sugar and honey and place over low heat. Increase heat to medium and cook, without stirring, until mixture reaches 245°F on a candy thermometer, about 6 minutes. Immediately pour over nut mixture and, working quickly, stir until dry ingredients are coated (the mixture will be very thick). Transfer to the prepared pan and, with moistened fingers, press evenly into the pan.
- Bake until mixture has puffed slightly and has a toasty aroma, about 35 minutes. (The mixture will be soft and tacky to the touch.) Transfer to a rack to cool to room temperature, at least 1 hour. Remove from the pan and cut horizontally into thirds, then cut each third into 1/2-inch-thick bars (you should have about 36 bars).