Fig Squares with a Walnut Crust

Fig paste on top of a buttery-tasting crust makes a satisfying bar cookie. The crust can be baked several hours or up to a day ahead, and without the topping makes a delicious shortbread.

1/2 cup walnuts
1 cup flour
1/3 cup cup confectioners’ sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup walnut oil
1 cup dried figs (8 ounces), stemmed and coarsely chopped
2/3 cup port wine
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon cardamom

1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. On a baking sheet, toast the walnuts for 7 minutes, or until crisp and fragrant. Leave the oven on.
2 Transfer the walnuts to a food processor. Add the flour, confectioners’ sugar, orange zest, and salt, and process until finely ground. Add the walnut oil and process until evenly moistened.
3 Press the mixture into an 8-inch square metal baking pan. With the tines of a fork, prick the dough all over. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the crust is crisp. Cool the crust on a wire rack, but leave the oven on.
4 Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the figs, port, orange juice, honey, and cardamom. Bring to a simmer. Cover and cook until the figs are soft and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 20 minutes.
5 Transfer the mixture to a food processor and process to a smooth paste. Spread the fig paste over the cooled crust and put back in the oven and bake for 20 minutes to set the topping. Cool in the pan on a wire rack before cutting into 16 squares. Makes 16 squares

Makes 16 bars servings.
Per bar: 145 calories, 5.7g total fat (0.5g saturated), 0mg cholesterol, 2g dietary fiber, 21g carbohydrate, 2g protein, 39mg sodium.