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Neighbors of DuPage

A Spirited Holiday

Nov 09, 2015 03:07AM ● By Family Features
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(Family Features) With the holidays fast approaching, opportunities for delicious sweets and elegant drinks are bound to be plentiful.

Versatile and available year round, California dried figs are naturally sweet, nutrient rich and full of flavor. They also make a great snack during the busy holidays. Because these figs are dried, they partner well with wine and spirits and can be infused with more flavor to create delectable desserts.

For recipes using figs throughout the year, visit

Midnight Gingerbread


  • 1 cup stemmed, chopped Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California figs
  • 1/2 cup pitted, chopped Medjool dates
  • 1/2 cup dark raisins
  • 1/2 cup dark rum
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 ounces unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark molasses
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
Lemon-Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 ounces butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 4 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest


  1. In microwave-safe bowl, combine figs, dates, raisins and rum. Cover with vented plastic wrap. Heat on high for 1-1 1/2 minutes or until steamy. Set aside for 15 minutes to cool and absorb rum.
  2. Adjust oven rack to middle position. Heat oven to 350 F. Coat 9-by-13-inch baking pan with vegetable oil spray.
  3. In medium bowl, stir together flour, cocoa, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In large mixing bowl, combine melted butter, brown sugar, molasses and granulated sugar. With electric mixer on medium speed, beat until creamy. On low speed, beat in eggs, one at a time, then buttermilk. Gradually add flour mixture, stopping to scrape down side of bowl as needed. Continue to beat for 1 minute, until well blended. Stir in figs, dates and raisins. Scrape batter into prepared pan.
  4. Bake in middle of oven 35-40 minutes or until pick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs. Cool in pan on wire rack.
  5. To frost cake: in mixing bowl, combine cream cheese and butter. With electric mixer, beat until creamy. Beat in confectioners’ sugar and zest. Spread on top of cake. Chill until serving.

Spirited Fig Balls


  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, divided
  • 1/4 cup chopped, toasted pecans
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups finely crushed gingersnap cookies
  • 1 cup stemmed, finely chopped Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California figs
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped, toasted pecans
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted


  1. In food processor bowl, combine 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, chopped pecans and salt. Whirl to fine texture. Spoon into bowl and set aside.
  2. In same food processor bowl, combine crushed cookies, figs, 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, finely chopped pecans, brandy and butter. Pulse to blend well. Chill mixture 20-30 minutes.
  3. Form rounded teaspoons of mixture into balls. Roll balls in reserved sugar-nut mixture. Place in airtight container. Chill 12 hours.
  4. Alternate preparation: make Chocolate and Fig Amaretto Balls by substituting toasted almonds for pecans, crushed chocolate wafer cookies for gingersnaps and amaretto for brandy. Prepare as directed.

Chocolate Cheesecakes with Figs and Port


  • 1/2 cup finely crushed chocolate wafer cookies
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups stemmed Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California figs
  • 1/2 cup port
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position. Heat oven to 325 F. Line 12 (2 3/4-inch) muffin cups with paper cups.
  2. In small bowl, stir together crushed cookies, nuts and butter. Spoon about 1 tablespoon crumb mixture into bottom of each cup, dividing evenly; press into even layer. Bake in middle of oven 5-8 minutes, until fragrant.
  3. Cut about 1/2 cup figs into 36 thin, lengthwise slices. Place in small heatproof container with lid; set aside. In small saucepan, bring port and sugar to a simmer over medium heat and stir for 1 minute to form clear syrup. Pour 1/2 cup syrup over sliced figs. Cool; cover and chill until serving time. Finely chop remaining 1 cup figs and add to saucepan with remaining syrup. Return to heat and simmer, stirring often, until liquid evaporates. Spoon about 1 tablespoon warm fig mixture over crust in each cup, dividing evenly. With back of oiled spoon, press into even layer.
  4. Place chocolate and water in microwave-safe bowl. Heat in microwave on 50 percent power for 2 minutes or until melted, stirring every 30 seconds. Set aside. With electric mixer in large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until creamy. Gradually beat in granulated sugar. On low speed, beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in sour cream, cocoa and vanilla. Beat in melted chocolate. Spoon batter over fig layer in cups.
  5. Bake in middle of oven 15-20 minutes, until set. Cool in pan on rack. Chill for 6 hours or up to 2 days.
  6. To serve, arrange 3 slices of reserved figs in port syrup on each cake and drizzle with about 1/2 teaspoon syrup.

Fig and Bourbon Pecan Pie


  • 1 refrigerated pie crust
  • 1 cup stemmed, chopped Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California figs
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans, toasted
  • sweetened whipped cream


  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position. Heat oven to 375 F. Coat 9-inch glass pie plate with vegetable oil spray. Fit pie crust into plate, flute edge. Chill until ready to bake.
  2. In medium saucepan, combine figs, brown sugar, butter and bourbon. Stir over medium heat until butter and sugar melt. In medium bowl, whisk eggs and salt until well blended. Whisk in corn syrup and orange zest. Stir in fig mixture. Sprinkle nuts evenly over bottom of crust. Pour fig mixture over nuts.
  3. Bake 35-45 minutes or until center is set, shielding crust with foil after 30 minutes. Cool. Chill until serving. Served with whipped cream.

Sponsored by Blue Ribbon Orchard Figs and Sun-Maid Figs