Friday, September 27, 2013

Gift Idea #2 - Fig Cake for a Cheese Basket

Photo by Buff Strickland at DIY Network
Cheese baskets make a great gift and this is a perfect addition to it.  It seems like every cheese counter in the world has fig cakes for sale.  That's because the flavor of figs with almost any cheese is unforgettable.

It had never occurred to me to make my own fig cake until Joe Heyen from Colorado* sent us his recipe (originally from Worlds of Flavor).  According to Joe, this cake with a slice of Manchego on top is absolute heaven. 

It's extremely simple to make and the only equipment you will need is some kind of mold or container and a way to press the dough.  You can use weights, as Joe did, or you can use your cheese press, as I did.  (This comes under the heading, "Cool ways to use your press for things other than cheese!")

One other feature of this cake is that it's healthy; there is no flour and no sugar.  And, you can make it almost completely raw by using raw figs and nuts.  If you're vegan, and you eat figs (which some consider vegan and some do not), you can use agave or coconut nectar instead of honey.

* Joe is actually staying in Chicago for awhile, due to the floods in his Colorado town and, unfortunately he had to leave his cheese making equipment behind.  Our sympathy goes out to him and everyone else in that area of Colorado.

Joe pressed his cake in a cazuela with weights on top

Spanish Fig Cake
From Worlds of Flavor Spain 

Ingredients

2 cups dried figs stemmed, quartered  (Joe says he prefers white figs)
1/4 tsp cloves, ground
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp honey
2/3 cup almonds, slivered, toasted (or walnuts, which Joe prefers)
2 Tbsp sherry, plus one tsp.*

* I used brandy.  But, if you don't want to use alcohol, possible substitutions include apple cider, non alcoholic vanilla extract, apple juice with brandy extract added, or coffee.

Directions

Stem and quarter your figs.  (If you have fresh figs, there are good directions for drying them here.)



Sliver and toast your almonds.




Place figs in a steel bladed food processor and chop finely, pulsing for about one minute.



Add spices and honey and blend until combined, about 30 seconds, or until mixture forms a ball.






Add almonds and process until coarsely chopped and combined with the figs, about one minute.



Add 2 tablespoons of the sherry and process until the mixture sticks together, about one minute.  (I used brandy.)  Then, moisten your hands with 1 teaspoon of sherry and roughly shape like the non-reactive container the mixture will be in. 


Wrap in parchment paper or cheese wrap.



Cover in plastic, then press into your mold.  I used our small mold (M3) because I wanted a thick little cake.  This mold doesn't have a bottom, but you can use any mold, or container 4-6" in diameter.





Allow to set for two days at room temperature.  You can flip it after one day, if you want but it isn't necessary.  (Joe says he keeps his in the press for a week, but I need my press to make cheese!)


I love the way our Wheeler press looks on my counter.

After two days, take it out of the press.



And, it's ready to eat.



I wrapped mine in parchment, put it in a plastic bag and froze it.  (One more gift to cross off my list!)




for printing

Spanish Fig Cake
From Worlds of Flavor Spain 

Ingredients
2 cups dried figs stemmed, quartered
1/4 tsp cloves, ground
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp honey
2/3 cup almonds, slivered, toasted (or walnuts)
2 Tbsp sherry, plus one tsp.  (Substitutions include brandy, apple cider, non alcoholic vanilla extract, apple juice with brandy extract added, or coffee

Directions
1.   Place figs in a steel bladed food processor and chop finely, pulsing for about one minute. Add spices and honey and blend until combined, about 30 seconds, or until mixture forms a ball. Add almonds and process until coarsely chopped and combined with the figs, about one minute. Add 2 tablespoons of the sherry and process until the mixture sticks together, about one minute.

2.   Moisten your hands with 1 teaspoon of sherry and roughly shape like the non-reactive container the mixture will be in. Wrap in parchment paper and then plastic, then press into container. Place a second container on top to compress it into a firm cake. Allow to set for two days at room temperature.

3.   Slice cake into 1/4 inch thin slices. Serve with slices of Manchego.

This is the second in a series of posts with gift ideas for the holidays.  To see the first post, click here and for the third, click here.

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