December 2015 Fig Focus

New! FABULOUS FIG Recipe Series–Fillo Wrapped Fig Fruitcake

This Mediterranean inspired recipe redefines fruitcake. A lightly spiced mix of figs, apricots and dates is studded with pistachios and wrapped in irresistibly flaky fillo dough. A good choice for holiday desserts, buffets and even brunch, it serves a crowd and can be made at least a day before serving. Wrap it loosely in foil and reheat in a warm oven to refresh.

Fillo (phyllo or filo) dough is surprisingly forgiving to work with. Look for boxes of fillo in the freezer section of the market and thaw it overnight in the refrigerator before using. Unwrap the dough right before using and work quickly to prevent the sheets from becoming dry and brittle. While fillo sheets are delicate and may split or even shatter, you can easily layer and patch them together with butter. Use a light touch when brushing the sheets with butter and you will need less.

Fillo-Wrapped Fig Fruitcake

Combine fruits, nuts and fig spread mixture in bowl of food processor.

Brush each layer of fillo with butter and sprinkle with sugar mixture.

Fit pastry sheets into pan.

Fillo-Wrapped Fruitcake.

To serve, sift cake with confectioners’ sugar and drizzle plates with honey.

Fillo-Wrapped Fig Fruitcake
Makes 1 cake, 12 to 14 servings.

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 package (6-7-ounces) Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Figs, stemmed and coarsely chopped  

1 cup roasted pistachios

3/4 cup Mediterranean dried apricots, quartered

1/2 cup Medjool dates, pitted and chopped

1/2 cup Orchard Choice California Fig Spread (Organic Mission or Orange)

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted

1 box (1 pound) frozen fillo dough (9-x13-inch sheets) thawed*

To serve:

Confectioners’ sugar

Warm honey

Plain (whole milk) Greek yogurt

In small bowl, combine granulated sugar, allspice and cloves. Set aside.

In bowl of food processor, combine figs, pistachios, apricots and dates. In small bowl stir together fig spread, lemon zest, cardamom, cinnamon and salt. Spoon over fig mixture in processor bowl. Pulse to chop fruits and nuts into small pieces and blend ingredients. Do not over mix.

Arrange oven rack to middle position. Place a rimmed baking sheet on rack to catch drips. Preheat oven to 350°F.  

To prepare pastry, brush an 8-inch spring form pan with melted butter. Place one sheet of fillo on work surface; lightly brush with melted butter and sprinkle with about 1/2 teaspoon sugar mixture.  Place a second sheet of fillo on top of first at a 45 degree angle to first sheet; lightly brush with butter and sprinkle with about 1/2 teaspoon sugar.  Repeat process with remaining sheets of dough, butter and sugar, layering sheets in a spoke-like fashion to make a rough circle.  Remove stack of five buttered and sugared sheets and set aside for topping. Carefully lift remaining stack of pastry sheets and fit into bottom and up side of pan (excess pastry will be folded over top of cake). Spoon fruit mixture into bottom of pastry-lined pan and pat to an even layer. Sprinkle any remaining sugar mixture over filling. Top fruit filling with reserved stack of pastry sheets and pat down gently over fruit layer.  Fold excess pastry over top of the cake.  If butter remains, brush over top.

Place pan on baking sheet in oven. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until pastry is a rich golden brown.  Cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes.  Remove side of pan and cool completely.  Cake can be made a day before serving.  Cover and store at room temperature. 

To serve, sift confectioners’ sugar over top of cake.  Cut cake into wedges.  Drizzle serving plates with honey.  Top each with a wedge of cake. Add a dollop of yogurt alongside cake.  

*Fillo (phyllo or filo) sheets vary in size.  If using a 1-pound box of larger, 13-x-18-inch sheets:  In step 4, sprinkle about ¾ teaspoon sugar on each sheet.  Do not remove 5 buttered sheets for topping.  Fold excess pastry over top to cover fruit filling.  Bake and serve as directed.

Lorelle Del Matto, MS, RDN, is a nutrition and culinary professional who combines a passion for food (and California Figs) with a quest for nutrition knowledge. She believes well designed and tested recipes can be great communication tools. Lorelle has a Master’s of Science in nutrition biology and is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. Lorelle developed her culinary skills in France at La Varenne, Ecole de Cuisine. You can find more recipes and healthy lifestyle tips to inspire you to “savor the art of healthy eating” on her website lorelledelmatto.com and on Twitter and Facebook.

Holiday Appetizers–Quick, Easy, Elegant

Brush baguette slices with garlic oil (heat olive oil with a clove or two of smashed garlic, just until fragrant). Place on a baking sheet and crisp in a 350°F oven for 5 to 10 minutes. Top with blue or Gorgonzola cheese, Orchard Choice California Fig Spread (Mission or Orange), and sprinkle with toasted hazelnuts or pecans. Instead of baguette slices, you also can use Belgium endive spears. 

Get Busy Baking with California Figs & Whole Grains

During the month of December we are filling your social media feed with scrumptious ideas for incorporating your favorite Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice and Sun-Maid California Figs and fig spreads into holiday baking. And, the first week of December, we’re focusing on whole grain baking with California figs in two fun ways. We’ve tapped Maria Speck, cookbook author and whole grain expert to share a cookie recipe and her whole grain baking tips during the first week of December. That same week we have also partnered with Bob’s Red Mill to bring you a whole grain baking kit giveaway of giant proportions (think flours, baking powder, sugars and more) along with Maria Speck’s newest cookbook “Simply Ancient Grains”– head over and log onto your Instagram account to enter the giveaway on the Valley Fig Instagram feed (http://instagram.com/valleyfig) during December 1 – 6. 

Dark Chocolate and Dried Fig Biscotti
Packed with healthy California Figs and infused with dark antioxidant-rich chocolate, these whole-grain biscotti are a perfect holiday indulgence. Olive oil adds fruity notes.

Makes about 36 biscotti

240 g/8.5 ounces (about 2 cups, spooned and leveled) whole grain spelt flour

200 g (1 cup) packed light or dark brown sugar

20 g (about 1/4 cup) non-alkalized cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder 

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

2 large eggs, at room temperature

100 g/3.5 ounces (about 1/2 cup) extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for work surface and hands

1 tablespoon orange liqueur or brandy (optional)

4 teaspoons finely grated orange zest (from about 1 large orange)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

80 g/2.8 ounces (slightly heaped 1/2 cup) chopped Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid Mission California Figs

100 g/3.5 ounces (2/3 cup) coarsely chopped dark chocolate with 70% cocoa content, melted and cooled (see TIP)

1. Whisk together spelt flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center. In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a fork. Gradually drizzle in the olive oil until well blended, followed by the liqueur, zest, and vanilla. Pour the egg mixture into the center of the flour mixture. Using a dough whisk or a wooden spoon, and stirring from the center, combine the ingredients until much of the flour is incorporated. Briefly stir in the melted chocolate. Add the figs and, using your hands, gently bring the dough together into a soft ball. Cover the bowl with a plate and set aside for 20 to 30 minutes. This allows the bran to soften for a more appealing texture.

2. Meanwhile, place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Line a large rimless baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly grease your work surface with olive oil.

3. Cut the dough inside the bowl into 4 equal pieces. Lightly knead each piece and gently roll into a log, about 9 inches long, pressing in any protruding pieces and moistening your hands with oil if needed. Try to make the log as smooth as possible. If the dough cracks, gently push it together. Place the logs crosswise on the prepared baking sheet, leaving at least 2 inches in between. Gently pat down the top of each log until it is about 1 1/2 inches wide.

4. Bake until the logs firm up and small cracks appear on top, about 25 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, and carefully slide the parchment paper with the logs onto a wire rack. Allow to cool completely, about 60 minutes (or up to 1 day).

5. Reduce oven temperature to 300°F. Transfer the logs to a cutting board (loosen with a metal spatula if needed). Using a large serrated knife, gently cut each log diagonally into 3/4-inch thick slices. Place the slices, cut side down, onto the baking sheet without touching.

6. Bake until the biscotti feel dry to the touch but still yield a bit, about 25 minutes. Carefully transfer the biscotti to a wire rack to cool completely before storing; they will crisp as they dry.

TIP: Melt chocolate on high in the microwave in 1-minute intervals, stirring every thirty seconds.
Recipe and photograph © by Maria Speck, award-winning author of Simply Ancient Grains and Ancient Grains of Modern Meals.

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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