April/May/June 2011 Fig Focus

Valley Fig Growers

Spring Brings Lots of Holidays and Lots of Occasions to Enjoy California Figs

Just in time for Passover!

Double Chocolate Fig Macaroons

  • 1 cup Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid Figs
  • 2 cups toasted slivered blanched almonds
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white 
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels 
  • Confectioners’ (powdered) sugar

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350°. Line large baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. (If using foil, oil or coat with nonstick spray.) Remove stems and chop figs to about 1/3-inch size; set aside.  In food processor, process almonds with sugar, cocoa powder and salt until nuts are finely ground.  Add egg, egg white and almond extract. Process until well blended.  Remove dough from processor to separate bowl.  Stir in figs and chocolate morsels. With lightly oiled hands, form rounded tablespoon portions of dough into balls. Place balls, 2 inches apart, on sheet. With oiled fingers, flatten each to 1 3/4-inch circle.  Bake one sheet at a time for 12 minutes or until cookies are set. (They will puff slightly and be dry on top.  Do not over bake.)  Cool on wire rack.  Sift confectioners’ sugar over cookies.  Store in airtight container.  Makes about  30 cookies.

Easter Brunch Ideas Featuring California Figs

Yummy Treats for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day

Fudgey Fig No-Bake Brownie Bites

Have the kids help make these tasty treats.

  • 1 package (9oz.) chocolate wafers (Famous® Chocolate Wafers)
  • 1 cup stemmed, finely chopped Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid Figs
  • 1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans or walnuts
  • 3 tablespoons confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 cup (6oz.) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate morsels
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules (optional)

Topping:

1/2 cup finely chopped figs or toasted nuts

Line 24 mini muffin pan cups with decorative paper or foil liners (or line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil or plastic wrap, extending up sides); set aside. Whirl wafers in food processor (or place in sealable plastic bag and crush with rolling pin) to make fine crumbs.  Place in large bowl.  Stir in figs, nuts, confectioners’ sugar and salt. Pour half and half into microwave-safe bowl and heat on 100% power in microwave oven for 30 seconds or until boiling. (Or bring half and half to a boil in small saucepan over medium-high heat). Add chocolate morsels and set aside for 1 minute to soften. Stir until chocolate melts. Stir in vanilla and coffee granules.  Pour over fig mixture and stir until blended.  While warm, spoon brownie mixture into lined muffin cups or baking pan and press with back of oiled spoon to an even layer. Sprinkle with topping. Chill 2 hours or until set. If using a square pan, cut into 24 brownies. Store in the refrigerator.  Makes 24 brownies.

On the Nutrition Front

By Cherryl Bell, RD, MS

New 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Released by the US Department of Agriculture

The Dietary Guidelines offer nutritional guidance to help Americans make healthier food choices. Strong emphasis is on reducing calories and increasing physical activity because more than one-third of children and more than two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese. The bottom line is most Americans need to lose weight to reduce the risk of developing diet-related chronic disease.

Here are some tips to help you incorporate the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines into your everyday life. Choose steps that work for you and start today.

Balancing Calories

  • Enjoy your food, but eat less.
  • Avoid oversized portions.

Foods to Increase

  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
  • Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.

Foods to Reduce

  • Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread and frozen meals — and choose the foods with lower numbers.
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

The new guidelines say we need to eat more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low fat dairy and seafood.  We need to consume  more calcium, vitamin D, potassium and dietary fiber – nutrients of concern in American diets. And at the same time, we must reduce salt, solid fats, added sugar and refined grains. For more information on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, go to www.dietaryguidelines.gov.  

In the News

California Figs Declared ‘It’ Fruit by Epicurean Insiders

Luscious! Addictive! Taste of Eden! Sublime! These are the words and phrases used to describe California Figs by members of today’s most preeminent culinary organizations – the International Association of Culinary Professionals and Les Dames d ‘Escoffier International. In fact, through informal surveys conducted at both of the organizations’ annual meetings, these epicurean insiders ranked figs as the #1 emerging fruit relative to increased use and growth in popularity.

According to Chef Robert Del Grande, RDG + Bar Annie, Houston, TX, “These days, figs are on everyone’s mind. From chefs to new product developers to home cooks, it’s the new secret ingredient. With one bite, you can taste 1,001 possibilities for new flavors and ingredient combinations.”

What’s Happening at Valley Fig Growers

We’ve been on the road spreading the good word about California Figs–sweet, delightful flavor, portable and convenient, high in fiber. It’s exciting to see and hear that people are definitely getting the message.

  • San Francisco Fancy Food Show     
  • Natural Products Expo
  • California Artisan Cheese Festival

If you make this recipe, snap a photo and tag us @valleyfig —we’d love to see what you’re cooking on Instagram and Facebook!

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