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Fig crackers make classy snack

February 05, 2013|By CHRIS COPLEY | chrisc@herald-mail.com
  • These crackers cranberry-apricot-cashew crisps, left, and fig-olive-pecan crisps, right, are twice baked, like melba toast or biscotti, and go well with soft cheese and fresh fruit.
Photo by Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

Editor's note: This is part of an occasional series of stories on children eating vegetables. The series explores ways to highlight vegetables' flavor and appearance as a way to work around the resistance some kids have to eating vegetables.



February's featured vegetable is a fruit. The fig. Specfically, dried figs.

Growing up, I was not a fan of figs. But then I met my wife, whose parents had a fig tree in their backyard. I ate my first fresh fig, and ... well, I still was not a fan, but I appreciated the difference between moist, fresh figs and denser, darker-flavored dried figs.

And then, on vacation in the Pacific Northwest, I tasted some Canadian-made crackers called Lesley Stowe's Raincoast Crisps. The crackers were twice-baked, like melba toast or biscotti —  that is, baked once into a loaf shape, then sliced thinly and baked a second time. They had great flavor, with fresh rosemary and nuts and olives embedded in a crispy-bready matrix.

And they had figs in them.

The odd flavor combination of nuts, olives and figs worked for me. The crisps were perfect snack crackers and picnic food.

I realized, when I began working on this story about preparing figs in a way that would entice kids to try them, I could try to recreate Raincoast Crisps. Kids like crackers and cookies, and these crisps are a hybrid. They taste good on their own, and they go well with other foods — good with cheese and apples or jam and butter.

I looked online for recipe ideas and discovered that I'm not the only one who likes Raincoast Crisps. I read a lot of posts of people who LOVE them. Many people offered recipes.

I settled on a recipe from Julie Van Rosendaal, a food blogger from Calgary, Canada, who publishes recipes under the handle Dinner With Julie. I adapted Van Rosendaal's recipe to my family's gluten-free diet and our flavor preferences.

The recipe produces enough batter for two bread-loaf pans, but I had only one. So I put the batter in greased muffin-tin cups, which produced perfect, round, easily cut-able slices. I recommend the muffin tins.

I used four or five bowls to make this recipe. I lost track after a while. Part of the reason was I divided my batch and made two flavor profiles — apricot-cranberry-cashew crisps in one bowl; and olive-fig-pecan crisps in another. The accompanying recipe details this process.

The first baking makes a dense bread, and, in fact, you can eat it just like that. My wife ate one of my warm "muffins" with butter and pronounced it delicious.

But to make the crisps, slice the muffins or bread loaf very thinly — six to eight slices per inch — and bake the slices a second time. To cut without tearing the bread, freeze it and use a very sharp knife.

These crisps make a classy snack; serve with soft cheeses and fresh fruit.

You'll hardly notice the figs.



Fruit and nut crisps

2 cups flour (see cook's note)

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt blended with 1/2 cup water (see cook's note)

1/4 cup honey

1/2 cup roasted sunflower seeds

1/4 cup sesame seeds

1/4 cup flax seed, ground

1 tablespoon chopped, fresh rosemary

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup chopped dried apricots

3/4 cup chopped roasted cashews

1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives

1/2 cup chopped dried figs

3/4 cup chopped pecans



Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and salt.

In a separate bowl, thoroughly mix together yogurt-water mixture and honey.

In a third bowl, combine sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flax seed and rosemary. Divide seed mixture into two large bowls. Into one bowl, place cranberries, dried apricots and roasted cashews and combine thoroughly. In the other bowl, combine kalamata olives, dried figs and pecans with seed mixture.

Grease an 8-inch-by-4-inch loaf pan and 12 muffin-tin cups or spray with nonstick spray.

Pour yogurt-honey mixture into dry ingredients and mix just to combine. Mixture will form bubbles. Immediately divide batter into two bowls of seed-nut-fruit mixtures and mix just enough to combine.

Pour one batter into loaf pan and the other into muffin cups. Bake for 30 minutes for muffin tins and 35 minutes for loaf pan, until dark and springy to the touch. Let cool for 15 minutes, then remove from pans and cool on a wire rack.

Freeze overnight.

Heat oven to 300 degrees. Using a very sharp knife, carefully slice loaves very thinly — try to get six to eight slices per inch. Place the slices in a single layer on an ungreased cookie sheet. Or slice and bake one loaf, and save the other in the freezer for later.

Bake crisps for about 15 minutes, then flip them over and bake for another 10 minutes, until crisp and brown.

Makes 6 to 7 dozen crackers.

Cook's notes: I used Bob's Red Mill gluten-free flour in place of all-purpose flour. Instead of yogurt-water mixture, you could use 2 cups buttermilk.

— By Chris Copley, Lifestyle assistant editor

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