Tag Archive | healthier desserts

Orange Fig Bars

This year I am running behind on everything!  Shopping, baking, mailing the Christmas cards and gifts… So I am absolutely grateful to have a quiet weekend just before the big day.  I’ve been craving something fig lately and I came across this wonderful recipe in the Family Circle Magazine 2013 holiday edition.  Being a huge fan of figs, I just couldn’t pass it up!

So….(drum roll, please) here is my first attempt at homemade fig bars!

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Pre-heat your oven to 350* F. The next thing I do is get the figs cooking down so that once I finish the cookie layer, they are ready to go and I don’t have to wait for them.

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You’ll need a large, lidded pan that can hold 4 cups of dried figs that have been coarsely chopped.  In this pan will go the chopped figs, honey, 2 tbsp sugar, orange juice (I squeezed a fresh naval orange) and the zest from an orange.  I also added a little water.   The figs I used were organic, dried figs that we found at Costco.  They are wonderful!  And since figs can sometimes be difficult to find depending on where you live, this was a nice treat for me.

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First chop your figs into smaller chunks.  I cut these figs in half, the cut each of those halves into another half.  Wash your orange really well (organic is best) and take your zester, pictured above, and zest all the peel off into the pot. Then squeeze the juice of that orange. It will look like a sticky mess once you add the honey, orange juice and water!  But it will smell absolutely wonderful!!

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On medium heat, bring the figs to a simmer, lower the heat, put the lid on and let cook about 15 minutes or until they are all soft.  I made sure to stir occasionally and was actually able to resist the urge to lick the spoon!  While the figs are cooking, put together the cookie layer.  Once that is done and the figs are soft, you will put them into a food processor, or blender, and run until they are completely smooth.  This mixture will then be spread on top of the cookie layer to be baked for about 25 minutes.  Make sure you cool completely or cutting them into bars will be a nightmare!

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The recipe is below.  Have fun with it and enjoy these!  I actually ended up cutting them smaller than what is on the plate.  They are so rich and delicious and not very sweet at all!

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Orange & Fig Bars

2 cups all-purpose flour (make sure it is unbleached) or whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 tsp. aluminum-free baking powder

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. salt (I used Celtic Gray Sea Salt)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened (vegan butter works well here)

1/2 cup + 2 tbsp sugar

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

4 cups dried figs, roughly chopped

1/2 cup orange juice or the juice of one large orange

1/4 cup water – this is my addition to the recipe

zest from a large orange

2 tbsp. pure honey

Pre-heat the oven to 350*F.  Line a 13×9-inch baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper.  (I am partial to parchment)

In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  In another bowl, beat butter and 1/2 cup sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in vanilla.  Slowly pour in the flour mixture and beat on low until well combined.  Press firmly and evenly in the bottom of your lined baking pan.

In a medium, lidded pot, combine figs, orange juice and zest, honey, 2 tbsp sugar, and water, if you are adding it.  Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat and cook until soft…about 15 minutes.  Transfer the mixture to a food processor (or blender) and run until smooth.  Let cool about 5 minutes.  Using a spatula dipped in warm water to prevent sticking, spread the fig mixture over the cookie layer. (re-dip your spatula in warm water as needed to prevent sticking)

Bake at 350*F for 25 minutes.  Cool completely.  Lift from the pan to a cutting board.  Cut into small squares.

Per cookie: 122 cal; 3g fat (2g sat fat); 2g pro; 24g carb; 2g fiber; 41mg sodium; 7mg chol

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Healthier Red Velvet Cupcakes

One of my favorite shows to watch is “Not My Mama’s Meals” where Bobby Deen takes his Mama’s dishes and revamps them to lower calorie, healthier versions.  Since that is something I like to do as well, I feel in an odd sort of way that he and I have something in common!

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Since we keep getting teased for Spring by Mother Nature with some warm days here and there and my daffodils and crocus popping up, then a day or three of snow and ice….I wanted to make something that would just exude Spring.  What about cheery red velvet cupcakes with that fresh taste of spring?

So, here goes!  Yes, I altered this even more….couldn’t help myself.  Next time I think I will reduce the amount of almond extract.  It was a bit much in my opinion, but still very good. And those eggs are farm fresh eggs, which as you can see, I whittled down to just 2 from 4 in the recipe.  Isn’t the blue one beautiful?

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Bobby’s Red  Velvet Cupcakes

6- small roasted beets

1/4 cup canola oil

3/4 cut low-fat buttermilk

1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 tsp almond extract

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

2-1/2 cups cake flour

1-1/2 cups raw granulated sugar

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1-1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

Frosting:

1- 8oz pkg Neufchatel (reduced fat) cream cheese

1-1/4 c. confectioner’s sugar

1/4 c. reduced-fat sour cream

zest of 1 orange, reserve some for garnish

1/4 c. chopped pecans

1/4 c. toasted coconut

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Directions:

For the cupcakes – Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line cupcake pan with liners or spray with nonstick baking spray.

Add the roasted beets and oil into a blender or food processor.  Puree until the mixture is a thick liquid.  Add the buttermilk, butter, almond extract, vanilla extract and eggs, pulsing until well combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt together until well incorporated.

Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and stir/pulse until there are no lumps.  Spoon the batter into the prepared cupcake pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or about 15-20 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool completed in the pan on a cooling rack.

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For the frosting – Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium then high speed until very smooth, about 2-3 minutes.  On low speed, add the confectioner’s sugar, sour cream, a big pinch of the orange zest (reserve enough to garnish tops later) and blend together about 1-2 minutes.

Frost each cupcake and garnish with pecans, coconut and/or orange zest.

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In the frosting, the sour cream was also omitted as I didn’t have any and I don’t usually add it to my frosting.  And I didn’t have any coconut or pecans on hand.  I also substituted some of the flour for whole wheat pastry flour. These were really good.  And my husband’s co-workers got to enjoy these since I sent most of them with him to work the next day!

Enjoy!