Instant Pot Bacon Jam Appetizer with Dried Figs

Let’s talk for a moment about our favorite ways to say sayonara to the year that was and to welcome the New Year. Something bubbly is always a good idea and this year instead of focusing on a lavish sit-down dinner, we are all about delightful bites and planning out a charcuterie board menu, brimming with different cheeses too. A charcuterie, antipasti, or cheese board are the perfect kind of things to pull together to snack on if you’re staying in and playing board games or if you’re hosting a dressy gathering and need something easy that’s also easy on the eyes! That’s where this bacon jam appetizer particularly shines.

Once we tasted Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Bacon, we knew that it would make sweet music cooked down with our Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Mission Dried Figs and we were right! This fig bacon jam is kind of addictive in the best possible way. Sure, you could eat the bacon jam appetizer as part of a starter or you could add it as a condiment on a sandwich (a sharp cheddar grilled cheese would be amazing!), but back to the charcuterie board menu. Curl a few slices of ham and turkey to tile on the board. Add crackers. Some different kinds of salami and figgy bacon jam and you are done.

If you’ve never made a bacon jam before, they typically cook low and slow for hours to ensure the onion and bacon are soft and jammy. We wanted to flip that script and save time using our electric pressure cooker—it takes around 40 minutes of mostly passive time for jam. Did we mention this fig bacon jam would make an incredible edible gift too? We found the recipe below easily tucks into 3 half pint glass jars.  Store the bacon jam in the refrigerator where it will keep for 2 to 4 weeks or you can freeze it for longer storage.

Instant Pot Bacon Jam Appetizer with Figs also makes incredible edible gifts!

Instant Pot Bacon Jam with Dried Figs

Course Cheese Plates

Ingredients

  • 1 (12 ounce) package Nueske's Applewood Smoked Bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 pound shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 10 ounces Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Mission Figs, stemmed and chopped
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Dash black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar

Instructions

  1. Place the chopped bacon into the pot of your electric pressure cooker. Cook and stir for 5 minutes using the Saute feature, as it begins to release grease and cook a bit. Stir in the shallots, California Figs, salt, and pepper. Saute for an additional 3 minutes, stirring to combine.

  2. Cover and set the release valve to seal, cooking on high pressure for 10 minutes. Adjust the release valve to vent. Once the steam has fully escaped, open the pressure cooker and stir the fig bacon mixture.

  3. Repeat step 2 two more times, stirring after each batch—you will cook the bacon mixture a total of 30 minutes in the electric pressure cooker.

  4. Stir in the vinegar. Transfer the fig bacon mixture to a food processor and pulse until chunky for more of a relish or about 10 pulses for jam.

Bacon Wrapped Figs with Cream Cheese Tartlets

Bacon Wrapped Figs with Cream Cheese Tartlets are our favorite appetizer for New Year's Eve!

Our new favorite appetizer also happens to be one of those that’s ready in less than 20 minutes. You can’t miss anytime you serve fig appetizers with bacon at a party, but we are totally biased here on this particular recipe for bacon wrapped figs with cream cheese tartlets. Nueske’s uncured wild cherrywood smoked bacon crumbled with our Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Mission Dried Figs are a duo you’re not likely to forget!

Take bacon wrapped figs with cream cheese and mix it all together to stuff into phyllo tart shells. They only take 8 minutes to bake and when served warm are nothing short of irresistible. We love serving them with sparkling California wines and friends. Head to our appetizer page for more fig appetizers with bacon (let’s face it—California Figs love bacon!).

Bacon Wrapped Figs with Cream Cheese Tartlets

Course Appetizer
Servings 30 tartlets

Ingredients

  • 8 strips Nueske's uncured wild cherrywood smoked bacon
  • 1 cup Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid Mission Figs, stemmed
  • 1 package Neufchatel cheese (light cream cheese), room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 teaspoons honey
  • Dash cayenne
  • 30 phyllo tart shells, thawed

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place a paper towel lined plate near the stovetop.

  2. Fry the bacon in 2 batches and transfer to the prepared plate. Crumble 4 strips of bacon. Slice the other 4 strips of bacon into 30 postage stamp-sized pieces.

  3. Finely chop 1/2 cup of the mission figs. Thinly slice the remaining figs into 30 discs, cut lengthwise.

  4. Mash the cream cheese with a fork in a small bowl to soften it. Stir in the orange juice, thyme, salt, honey, and cayenne until combined. Then, add in the crumbled bacon and chopped figs, stirring with the fork until combined.

  5. Fill each phyllo tart shell with the cream cheese. Place a piece of the sliced bacon on top like a flag and then tile a piece of the fig slice on top.

  6. Bake for 8 minutes. Devour.

Recipe and photo by Annelies Zijderveld

Cuccidati Italian Fig Cookies

Filled with Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Dried Figs, raisins, dates, almonds, honey or jam, orange or lemon peel, and scented with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, Cuccidati are traditional Italian fig cookies served at Christmas and especially favored by Italian-Americans around the holidays. It is not too farfetched to speculate that Arab influence in Southern Italy could be responsible for their assortment of dried and fresh fruits and alluring spices. The filling of this Italian fig cookie recipe is wrapped in buttery dough, which is much like pasta frolla, a soft and sweet Italian pastry dough. Sometimes the cookies are shaped into fat little logs, but they can also take the shape of an X, or a crescent with filling peeking out of small slits cut into the ends of the cookie before it is baked. You can choose one or make all three!

The cookies take a bit of work but you will find it easier if you break it down. 1) Make and chill the dough 2) make the filling 3) roll and chill the dough 4) shape the filling 5) Wrap the dough around the filling 6) Chill the filled logs 7) Shape the cookies and brush with egg wash 8) Bake the cookies 9) Make the glaze and glaze the cookies. Don’t forget to breathe and enjoy—cookie season is here!

Cuccidati Italian Fig Cookies

Course Dessert

Ingredients

Dough for Italian Fig Cookies

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into thick slices
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Filling for Italian Fig Cookies

  • 8 ounces Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Dried Mission Figs
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • 2 tablespoons orange marmalade
  • 3 tablespoons Meyer's dark rum or Grand Marnier

Egg Wash

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon water

Icing for Italian Fig Cookies

  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
  • Colored sprinkles

Instructions

Make the Dough for the Italian Fig Cookies:

  1. In a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt a few times to mix them. Add the butter pieces and pulse until the dough resembles small crumbs. Add the eggs, and pulse until the dough more or less forms a ball. It is a very forgiving dough, so don’t fuss too much.

  2. Tip the dough onto a work surface and knead it two or three times just to bring it together. Line an 8- or 9-inch square pan with a long piece of plastic wrap. Press and flatten the dough into the pan. Cover with the overhanging plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, or until firm. The dough can be refrigerated for up to five days if you want to shape and bake the cookies later. 

Make the Filling for the Italian Fig Cookies:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. On a baking sheet, spread the almonds. Bake them for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they smell toasty. Cool briefly.

  2. With scissors, snip the stems off the figs, and snip each fig into 3 or 4 pieces.

  3. In a food processor, combine the figs, raisins, cinnamon, salt, cloves, nutmeg, vanilla and orange zest. Pulse until they are finely chopped. Add the almonds, marmalade and rum. Pulse until the mixture holds together but is not ground to a paste—it should have a little texture. 

  4. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the cookies. The filling will keep for at least one week.

To Assemble the Dough and Filling

  1. Have on hand 2 parchment lined baking sheets. Divide the dough in half. 

  2. Place a piece of parchment on the work surface and sprinkle it generously with flour. Working with half the dough at a time, roll it into a 12- by 14-inch rectangle. Slide it onto the baking sheet and refrigerate it for 20 to 30 minutes, or until cold. Repeat with the second half of the dough.

  3. While the dough is chilling, shape the filling. Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap. Divide the filling into 8 pieces (about 1/3 cup each) and roll each one into a 14-inch log. (This is easiest to accomplish by rolling about half of each portion at a time and piece the small logs together to form a long log.) The logs should be about 1/2-inch thick. Place on the baking sheet.

  4. Remove one sheet of chilled pastry from the refrigerator. With the dough still on the baking sheet, position it so that the 12-inch edge of the rectangle is parallel to the countertop. With a pastry wheel or pizza cutter, cut the dough into 4 long strips that are 3 inches wide. 

  5. Center 1 log of filling on each dough strip. Fold one side of dough over it and roll it so the seam is on the bottom. Return the baking sheet to the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes before cutting and shaping.

To Shape and Bake the Italian Fig Cookies:

  1. Beat 1 egg with 1 tablespoon of water to make an egg wash. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. If you have turned off the oven, preheat it now to 350ºF.

  2. For small cookies, cut the logs into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with colored sprinkles and bake, or glaze (see recipe below) with icing and top with sprinkles after baking.

    For X cookies, cut into 2 1/2- to 3-inch pieces. With a paring knife, make a slit on both ends of each piece and open them out slightly to form an X. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with colored sprinkles and bake, or glaze with icing and top with sprinkles after baking.

    For curved cookies, cut into 2 1/2- to 3-inch pieces. With a paring knife, make 3 or 4 1/4-inch cuts on 1 side of each cookie, being careful not to cut all the way through. Curve them into a crescent shape. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with colored sprinkles and bake, or glaze with icing and top with sprinkles after baking.

  3. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until light golden brown. 

Make the Icing for the Italian Fig Cookies

  1. Whisk together 2 egg whites and 2 1/2 cups of confectioner’s sugar. Pour into a shallow dish. Carefully dip the tops of the cookies in the icing and set them on a rack. Sprinkle with colored sprinkles and leave until set. 

  2. Store between sheets of wax paper in a tin with a tight-fitting lid for up to 1 week.

Recipe and photo by Sally Pasley Vargas