February 2015 Fig Focus

figs on leaves

Figs and Chocolate—The Perfect Valentine’s Day Couple!

Figs have long been a symbol of love and fertility. The sweet allure of figs is legendary and their romantic powers well documented in literature. California figs sensuously avail themselves to the cook in dishes begging to be served on Valentine’s Day. Here is one of our newest, and best, recipes.

Chocolate-Fig Bar Cookies with Hazelnuts

If you cannot find superfine sugar, you can obtain a close approximation by processing regular granulated sugar in a food processor for about 20 seconds.

Makes about 50 cookies

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup superfine sugar
  • 1 cup Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Figs, stemmed and chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), cut into sixteen pieces, at cool room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups hazelnuts, toasted, skinned, and chopped

In bowl of standing mixer fitted with flat beater, mix flour, sugar, figs, and salt on low speed until combined, about 5 seconds. With mixer running on low, add butter 1 piece at a time; continue to mix until mixture looks crumbly and slightly wet, about 1 minute longer. Add vanilla and cream cheese and mix on low until dough just begins to form large clumps, about 30 seconds.

Press dough in even layer into parchment-lined 17 1/2 by 12-inch baking sheet. Bake cookies on lower-middle rack in 375-degree oven until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Immediately after removing baking sheet from oven, sprinkle evenly with chocolate chips; let stand to melt, about 3 minutes.

Using offset icing spatula, spread chocolate into even layer, then sprinkle evenly with chopped hazelnuts. Cool on wire rack until just warm, 15 to 20 minutes.

Using pizza wheel, cut into 1 1/2-inch diamonds. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe courtesy of Cook’s Country from America’s Test Kitchen.
Valley Fig Growers is a proud sponsor of Cook’s Country TV.

Orchard Choice Port Wine California Fig Spread

Each month we’re featuring one of our new fig spreads. This month our focus is on Orchard Choice Port Wine California Fig Spread. Imagine sweet, luscious figs drenched in port and you have the makings of our elegant fruit spread.

Orchard Choice California Fig Spreads are always ready to go at a moments notice and so versatile. Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Partner with goat cheese, blue cheese or Brie as part of a cheese board. Plan about 1-2 oz. of each cheese per person.
  • Combine with vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper for a salad dressing that adds exceptional flavor and class to salads.
  • Add to grilled cheese or ham and cheese sandwiches.
  • Spread on pizza, top with cheese and prosciutto. Finish off with a little arugula tossed with a light vinaigrette.
  • Spread on burgers and top with crumbled cheese.
  • Add to sauces. Use for cocktail meatballs, grilled pork and beef.
port wine

“Try ‘Em, You’ll Like ‘Em” Healthy Lifestyle Tips

figs on leaf

Take steps every day to live a safe and healthy life. We started 2015 off with how to be a healthy role model. This month we celebrate American Heart Month with tips on choosing healthy fats.

During the month of February, Americans see the heart as the symbol of love. February is American Heart Month, and the ideal time for you to show yourself some love. Start by learning about healthy fats. Not all fats are created equal. While saturated and trans fats are bad for you, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can actually be good for you.

Vegetable oils, including olive, canola, soybean, safflower, corn, peanut and sesame, contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Avocados, olives and various types of nuts also contain healthy fats.   

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends people eat foods with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, instead of saturated and trans fats. According to the AHA, consumption of animal or saturated fats from foods like beef, lard and dairy can lead to an increase in LDL cholesterol, or bad cholesterol. Conversely, polyunsaturated fats have been shown to lower cholesterol.

Eat a healthy diet. Choosing healthful meal and snack options can help you avoid cardiovascular disease, including heart disease, and its complications. Be sure to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Eat foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol and high in fiber. For more information on eating a healthy diet, visit ChooseMyPlate.gov.

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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