February 2016 Fig Focus

Fabulous Fig Recipe Series 

Figs and chocolate are perfect partners to honor Valentine’s Day in a French dessert, Chocolate Pot de Crème with Fig-Almond Topping. Since February is National Heart Month this recipe was created with good health in mind. This lightened version trims fat and calories without compromising the rich chocolate flavor and silky texture that makes Chocolate Pot de Crème a classic. Quick to prepare, the Pot de Crème can be made a day or two before serving. The topping, chopped figs, warmed with amaretto and chopped almonds, can be done ahead but is best prepped just before serving so your family or guests experience a contrast of temperatures and textures: warm figs and crunchy nuts over cool, chocolate cream.

Tips:

  • Baking the chocolate custards in a water bath (roasting pan or other large baking pan with water) insures that the texture will be smooth and creamy.
  • Wear oven mitts that allow a good grip to protect your hands and be very careful moving the pan with hot water into the oven. If you prefer not to use liqueur with the figs, use fresh orange juice or almond syrup.

Chocolate Pot de Crème with Fig Almond Topping

Finely chopped chocolate, half & half, coffee powder.

Stir chocolate into hot half & half.

Ladle chocolate custard mixture into baking cups.

Cool baked pot de crème on rack.

Ingredients for fig almond topping

Ready to serve your sweetheart!

Chocolate Pot de Crème with Fig Almond Topping 

Prep time:  30 minutes

Bake time: 20 minutes

Makes 8 servings

Chocolate Pot de Crème

1 cup half & half

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon instant coffee powder or instant espresso

3 large egg yolks

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup evaporated fat-free milk

Fig Almond Topping

1 cup Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Figs, stemmed and chopped

3 tablespoons almond liqueur

1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons chopped, whole toasted almonds

1.  Preheat oven to 325° F.

2. Make Pot de Crème:  In small saucepan, heat half & half, over medium heat till simmering. Stir in chocolate and remove from heat. Set aside for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, till chocolate melts. Stir until smooth. Stir in vanilla and coffee powder.

3. In medium bowl, whisk egg yolks, sugar and salt. Whisk in evaporated milk. Slowly whisk in chocolate mixture. Ladle or pour mixture into 8 (2/3-cup) ramekins or other baking dishes. 

4. Place ramekins in a large roasting pan.  Pour just-boiled water into roasting pan, filling to reach about1/3 of the way up sides of ramekins. Cover tightly with foil; poke holes in foil for steam escape. Carefully place roasting pan on middle rack in oven (use oven mitts to protect hands). Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the edges of the custards are set and the center is quivery, like firm gelatin when shaken slightly. Remove ramekins from water bath and cool on wire rack for 30 minutes.  Cover and chill for 4 hours or up to two days. 

5. Make Topping:  in small saucepan, combine figs, almond liqueur, water and sugar.  Stir over medium-low heat for 1 minute, until mixture is warm and almost dry. Spoon figs over custards, dividing evenly. Top with almonds just before serving.

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.

Join in with our Fig-Loving Community Online: Fall in Love with California Figs and Chocolate

Figs and chocolate might be the perfect pairing for this Valentine’s Day. We have teamed up with Guittard Chocolate to provide a robust prize package that will satisfy the chocolate lover in your life. During the month of February, we will be sharing ideas and recipes showing you how to bake or create chocolate fig confections to sweeten someone’s day. Head over to our Facebook page and follow us. Chocolate expert and cookbook author, Alice Medrich will be sharing her chocolate and fig tips. Sign up on Facebook for a chance to win. May your month be sweet!

Fig and Walnut Rugelach

Alice Medrich

Rugelach are tender, flaky crescent-shaped cookies made with buttery cream cheese pastry, and filled with cinnamon sugar, nuts, and raisins or jam. Fig fanciers will adore this twist on tradition—filled with sweet dried California Mission figs, dark chocolate, and fragrant fresh orange zest.

Makes 48 cookies

Ingredients for the dough:

2 1/2 cups (320 grams) all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons (25 grams) sugar, plus additional pinches for sprinkling

1/4 teaspoon salt

8 ounces (2 sticks/225 grams) cold unsalted butter

8 ounces (225 grams) cold cream cheese

Filling: 

½ cup (100 grams) sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Scant 1/8 teaspoon salt

1 medium large orange

16 whole Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Figs (1 cup/140 grams) 

3/4 cup walnuts (80 grams), finely chopped

2/3 cup (4 ounces/113 grams) Guittard Semisweet or 63% Cacao Extra Dark Baking Chips

Equipment:

Food processor

2 cookie sheets, lined with parchment paper

Make the dough and the cookies:

Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.  Pulse a few times to mix.  Cut the butter in ¾-inch cubes and scatter over the flour mixture.  Pulse until butter pieces range in size from very coarse breadcrumbs to hazelnuts.  Cut the cream cheese into 1-inch cubes and scatter in the bowl.  Pulse until the mixture looks damp and crumbly—not smooth or cohesive— and only sticks together when pinched with your fingers. Dump the mixture onto a large piece of parchment or plastic wrap. Press the mixture together firmly into a large mound. Don’t worry about any bits of unblended butter or cream cheese.

Cut the mound into 4 equal wedges. Press each wedge into a flat round patty about 4 inches in diameter. Wrap each patty and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours (or up to 3 days). Preheat the oven to 350°F. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Organize the filling: Mix the sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. Use a rasp grater to grate the zest of the orange directly into the bowl and mix well. Set aside.

Use an oiled knife to stem and chop figs into raisin size pieces. Use your fingers to toss the figs and walnuts together in another bowl, separating any pieces stuck together.

Remove one dough patty from the refrigerator. Wait a few minutes until just pliable enough to roll, but not too soft. Dust a sheet of wax or parchment paper very lightly with flour and place the dough in the center. Dust lightly with flour and cover with a second sheet of paper. Roll the dough between the sheets into an 11-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick.  Peel the top sheet of paper from the dough and place it clean side up on the counter. Flip the dough over onto the paper and peel off the second sheet. Sprinkle the dough with one quarter (1 ½ teaspoons) of the sugar mixture. Sprinkle with one quarter of the fig mixture, followed by one quarter of the chocolate. Roll over the filling with a rolling pin (or use your fingers) to press it gently into the dough. Cut the dough like a pie, into 4 equal wedges. Cut each wedge into 3 equal wedges. Use your fingers to roll the wide outside edge of one wedge up around the filling toward the point. Place the roll, with the dough point underneath to prevent it from unrolling, on the lined cookie sheet. Repeat with the remaining wedges, placing cookies 1½ inches apart. If at any time the dough becomes too soft to handle, slide it onto a baking sheet and return it to the refrigerator to firm up. Roll out, fill, cut, and shape the remaining pieces of dough. Sprinkle each cookie with a small pinch of sugar. Bake two sheets at a time until cookies are golden brown at the edges and underneath, 20 to 25 minutes. Rotate the sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking. Set the baking sheets on racks to cool. Cool the rugelach completely before storing or stacking. Rugelach are always most exquisite on the day they are baked but they remain delicious, stored airtight, for about 5 days

Count on California Figs

Valley Fig Growers welcomes 2016 with a new column called Count on California Figs. Each month we’ll be sharing ways you can count on California figs to add taste and good health to your everyday living. 

Our recipe this month Chocolate Pot de Crème with Fig Almond Topping is lighter than the traditional version. By using half and half and fat-free evaporated milk instead of heavy cream and slightly reducing the serving size, total fat dropped from 42 grams to 11 grams (saturated fat dropped from 27 to 6 grams) per serving. Thanks to the figs and milk, this recipe offers 12% of the Daily Value for dietary fiber and 15% of the Daily Value for calcium.

The just released 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is designed for professionals to help people consume a healthy, nutritionally adequate diet. A couple areas where we see California figs really shinning are with the recommendation to “limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sokium intake.” Figs are naturally sweet with no added sugar and sodium-free. Use chopped California Figs instead of brown sugar on hot cereal and instead of granulated sugar on cold cereal. Buy lower sugar cereals and use figs to naturally sweeten your morning. You also will get the added benefit of more fiber!

Next month, we’ll touch on the guidelines’ key recommendations that describe components of a healthy eating pattern that includes “fruits, especially whole fruits.”

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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