Raw "cooking" is just plain fascinating to me. Not only does it require a few technical, specialty appliances that I actually now have, it is thought provoked, true slow food that begs days of waiting, monitoring, peeking and tasting. It is all about the end products that taste better than you hoped for, and are worth each moment of anticipation - and it's pure excitement in the knowing that what came from the long wait is probably at least a little healthier for you in the long run.
These beauty bars are sweetened only with date and fig pastes easily made by soaking dried fruit in water to fatten it up, and then sending it on a trip through the food pro with enough soaking water to approximate jam consistency. I also learned something about figs, that they are essentially inverted flowers and they have the highest mineral content of all common fruits. According to Sarma, they are high in potassium, calcium and iron, as well as having a good amount of vitamin C and fiber. More good reasons to hope my Kiddo liked them!
Sarma also calls for an ingredient I've never used before, maple syrup powder. I think it would be possible to dehydrate maple syrup and arrive at a usable result, but frankly I didn't have time for all of that. (Maple syrup is arguably not raw either if you are keeping track.) I substituted it with a little actual maple syrup, and everything turned out just fine. This was the first dehydrated adventure of such proportion for me, and I just went ahead and substituted as if I've been raw "baking" forever. It worked for me.
Raw Vegan Fig Bars (adapted from Sarma Melngailis)
- 4 c. oat flour (see note below)
- 1/2 t. RealSalt (fine salt)
- 1/4 c. coconut oil, warmed to soften
- 1/2 c. maple syrup
- 1 T. vanilla
- 3/4 c. date paste (see note below), divided
- 2 c. fig paste (see note below) (use the recommended 3 c. of fig paste for figgier bars)
To make the dough, mix oat flour and salt in a large bowl. Mix the coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla, and 1/2 c. of the date paste together, and add to the flour/salt mixture. Mix thoroughly, it will feel like a soft dough, like a pie dough. If it is too dry, add water to correct.
To make filling, in a separate bowl, mix remaining date paste with fig paste. (Sarma calls to add 1/4 c. of agave to the filling, but I found the consistency to be ok with just a little water, and I didn't want to add any additional sweetener since I feel dates and figs are both pretty sweet. You can add some honey or agave if you like - and include a pinch of salt to taste.) It should have a jam-like consistency, not liquidy at all.
Cut two pieces of parchment paper that are about the size of your dehydrator screens. Divide the dough into 2 pieces, and press/roll each into an even layer. Make each sheet as close to the same size as possible. With a knife, cut one of the dough layers into 4 uniform rectangles. (This will be the top layer, cutting makes it easier to pick up without breaking.) Sarma says to freeze for 10 minutes to make it easier to handle, but I had no trouble using it right away.
Spread the fig mixture evenly over the dough layer that is not cut. Carefully place the 4 rectangles you cut from the top piece of dough over the top. Place the whole thing, on the parchment paper, on a dehydrator screen and dehydrate at 115 or less for 6 hours.
Remove from dehydrator, carefully flip the whole thing onto another piece of parchment-lined screen and peel off the bottom layer of parchment. Put it back into the dehydrator and keep dehydrating for another 6 hours.
Remove from the dehydrator, (move the parchment off of the dehydrator screen), and cut the dough into bars. Cut each quarter into 8 bars, to equal the 32 bars. Carefully transfer the bars individually to the dehydrator screens, and dehydrate for 10-12 hours longer until done.
To make oat flour, soak oat groats in water for at least 6 hours, drain and rinse well, dehydrate and grind in a VitaMix or grain mill.
To make date and fig pastes, soak the dried fruits for at least 2 hours in water at room temperature. (Separately, of course.) In the case of the figs, first cut off the hard stems. Drain and reserve the soaking water. Transfer to a food processor and mix, adding back the soaking liquid 1 T. at a time until it is the consistency of thick jam or butter.