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The memory I have of Rice Krispie treats is friends selling them in high school as fundraisers for cheerleading, band, and any number of other clubs. They made a great snack in the middle of the day…if not the healthiest option. But I wasn’t too concerned about that back then.
I still sometimes have a craving for that combination of sweet, sticky, buttery, and crunchy. So I decided to make my own version – with fruit, of course! Specifically, fruit that I grow myself. What better use for the abundance of homegrown figs I have every summer?
These snack bars are a combination of three of my favorite things – Rice Krispie Treats, Fig Newtons, and sweet, sticky baklava (probably my #1 favorite dessert) – but without the added sugar and processed ingredients. Dried figs are plenty sweet and sticky enough.
Growing Figs – The Perfect Starter Fruit Tree
In my opinion, everyone should have at least one fig tree. Even if you live somewhere too cold to plant one in the ground, fig trees grow great in containers. They are beautiful plants even without fruit, but they fruit prolifically! And if you’ve never had a fresh fig straight from the tree, you are in for a surprise. They are incredibly sweet, juicy, rich, and nuanced.
Learn exactly how to plant and care for a potted fig tree here: How to Grow Figs in Containers: A Complete Guide
Fig trees love sun, well-drained soil, and not too much water. They aren’t overly plagued with pests or diseases (unless you include the squirrels I have to shoo away from my ripening figs every summer). And there are tons of varieties to choose from, ranging in color from bright yellow-green to deep purple-black, with pink, yellow, or red flesh.
Learn more: 14 Fantastic Figs for Growing in Containers
When you inevitably end up with more figs than you know what to do with, a great way to preserve them is by drying. Even without a food dehydrator, it’s simple to dry them whole or cut in half in a 225°F oven for a few hours. Once they are dehydrated, dry figs will keep in an airtight container for several months.
If fresh figs aren’t available, or if you don’t have a stash of home-dried figs, they are easy to find online. I used these organic sun-dried Smyrna figs, which are delicious on their own. In this recipe, they added the perfect sweetness and enough stickiness to hold the bars together.
Store-bought dried figs are wonderful and are a great way to still experience the flavor and nutrition of fresh figs (which have a very fleeting shelf-life). But it is worth the time and effort to grow your own figs, especially since they are so rarely available fresh at the store.
I have a ton of resources here on The Fruit Grove to answer all your fig-growing questions, including how to choose a planting location, how to fertilize them, what to plant nearby, and troubleshooting fruiting issues. Click the link below for a directory of fig articles.
Learn more: Figs – The Fruit Grove
It’s easy to swap out ingredients in this recipe according to taste, diet restrictions, and availability. These snack bars are already gluten-free, but you can also swap out the chocolate chips, honey, and butter for vegan options.
There are a lot of good puffed grain choices, each with its own type of crunch and nutrition. I chose brown rice because it’s inexpensive, and I like the lighter crispiness. Puffed millet, quinoa, amaranth, and kamut all contain a lot of fiber and protein. Quinoa and amaranth are much tinier grains, however, so the texture of the final bars will be different (but still good!).
Finally, feel free to mix and match the nuts. I used pistachios because I wanted that baklava flavor and color, but walnuts, cashews, pecans, sunflower seeds, or pretty much any nut would work well.
Storing and Serving
Store these Fig, Pistachio, and Puffed Brown Rice Snack Bars in the refrigerator so the chocolate doesn’t get messy. These are perfect for a dessert, snack, quick breakfast, or even in school lunches (if your child can’t bring nuts to school, substitute sunflower kernels for the pistachios). Enjoy!
Fig, Pistachio, and Puffed Brown Rice Snack Bars
- 8 x 8-inch square pan
- Food processor
- cooking spray
- large mixing bowl
- Rubber spatula
- Small microwave-safe bowl
- 1 cup dried figs roughly chopped (about 8 figs)
- 2 cups puffed brown rice *see Notes
- ¾ cup shelled unsalted pistachios
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Kosher or flaked sea salt
- Spray the pan with cooking spray and set aside.
- Place the figs and pistachios in the bowl of a food processor; pulse until roughly chopped.
- Add the melted butter, honey, salt, and cinnamon, and pulse until it forms a sticky paste. It should come together but still have noticeable chunks of nuts.
- Transfer the fig mixture to a large bowl. Add in the puffed brown rice and mix with a spatula until the rice is coated evenly in the fig-honey mixture.
- Scrape the rice-fig mixture into the pan and press down firmly with the spatula so the top is smooth. Set aside.
- Place the chocolate chips in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds on high, then stir. Continue microwaving in 15-second intervals, stirring between each, until the chocolate is completely melted.
- Pour the melted chocolate over the fig bars in the pan. Spread with a spatula until the chocolate covers the bars in a thin layer. Sprinkle the top with kosher salt or sea salt. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (1 hour or more is best).
- When you are ready to serve, run a knife around the edges of the pan. Turn the pan upside down on a cutting board to remove the fig bars. Carefully turn the square of fig bars over, then cut into 18 rectangles. Store uneaten pieces in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- *If you can’t find puffed brown rice, there are other healthy puffed grains you can substitute. Puffed millet, quinoa, or even regular puffed rice are all good gluten-free options. The texture may be slightly different, but they all have a pleasant crunch.
- Substitute ingredients as needed to suit your dietary needs. Vegan chocolate chips and butter, agave instead of honey, different puffed grains, and even a mix of different nuts will work well in this recipe.