Nothing brightens up a holiday cheese platter like the Spanish fig cake known as “pan de higo.” I add just a touch of fresh thyme, use preserved lemon as well as fresh zest, use molasses instead of the traditional honey, and throw in some sour cherries and a few prunes to make it more interesting. I recommend using plum brandy in this, but feel free to use any fruit brandy, or a plain brandy, or even whiskey, if you like. Remember though, that this needs at least a few days to mellow before you serve it. Well wrapped, it will keep for at least a month. Serve thin slices with any cheese for a festive but elegant conclusion to any holiday dinner.
Makes one mini loaf of pan de higo
- 8 ounces dried black mission figs, stems removed
- ¼ cup pitted prunes
- ¼ cup dried sour cherries
- ½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (You can also use rosemary . . .but use a bit less of it.)
- ½ teaspoon finely chopped preserved lemon (thoroughly rinsed)
- 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- ½ cup toasted almond slivers
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon lightly crushed anise seed (or more to taste)
- 1 tablespoon regular molasses
- 2 tablespoons plum brandy
- In a food processor, chop the figs by pulsing 10 or 12 times.
- Add all of the remaining ingredients except the brandy and process for 8 or 10 seconds, to combine well. Scrape down and pulse three or four more times.
- Remove the blade and sprinkle the brandy over the chopped fruits and nuts. Use the back of a small spoon or a sturdy spatula to incorporate the brandy.
- Line the two long sides and bottom of a mini loaf pan (4.5” x 2.5” x 1/5”) with parchment paper, creating a sling with enough paper left over to cover the top of loaf, once filled.
- Spoon the pan de higo into the loaf pan, pressing down hard. Fold the top edges of the parchment over the top. Sit a second, empty loaf pan on top. Put a couple of glass jars of jam, molasses or whatever else you have that’s fairly heavy into the top loaf pan.
- Allow to sit for at least two days. Remove the weights after two days and tightly wrap.
- Slice very thinly and serve with cheese. (I’ve been known to make tiny sandwiches with this, filled with fresh ricotta and jamon serrano.)
- Enjoy!! ;o)
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Holiday Confection