Sweet Ideas for Holiday Desserts

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(Family Features) The highlight of many a holiday meal, desserts are adored by young and old alike. This year, complete your festive celebration with delightful desserts that feature California Dried Figs.

Naturally sweet and available year round, figs easily add a touch of elegance to a variety of recipes. Dark purple Mission Figs have a soft, thin skin with a sweet, fruity taste, while Golden Figs are amber-colored with a firmer skin, well-developed seeds and a slightly nutty flavor. Both are interchangeable in most recipes.

Keeping holiday traditions

California Dried Figs are the perfect ingredient to star in your holiday recipes, especially for Hanukkah and Christmas. Sliced and simmered with fresh lemon and honey and spooned over cheesecake or chopped and combined with a little hazelnut liqueur and caramel for a luscious bottom layer, figs add a stunning fruit accent to popular cheesecake desserts. No matter what you are celebrating, your family will love these “figgy” recipes.

Besides the sweetness that figs bring to the table, California Dried Figs are a healthy ingredient rich in dietary fiber, complex carbohydrates and such essential minerals as potassium, iron and calcium.

Learn more about Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice and Sun-Maid California Dried Figs at www.valleyfig.com

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Fig, Lemon and Honey Cheesecake

Servings: 12

Crust:
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup chopped, stemmed Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Figs
Cheesecake:
  • 1 1/2 pounds (three 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced (for garnish)
Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 cup sliced, stemmed Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Figs
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. For crust, mix graham cracker crumbs and sugar; stir in butter. Press into bottom of buttered 9-inch springform pan. Bake 8–10 minutes, till edges are golden. Remove from oven and sprinkle evenly with figs.
  3. For cheesecake, beat cream cheese with electric mixer on medium-low speed until smooth, scraping bowl as needed. Gradually beat in sugar, then sour cream, zest and vanilla. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Scrap filling into pan over figs. Bake on middle rack for 45–55 minutes, until almost set in center. Cool. Chill 4 hours or overnight.
  4. For sauce, in small saucepan, combine water, honey and lemon juice. Stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a simmer. Add cornstarch solution and stir for a few seconds, until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in figs. Cool. Chill until serving time.
  5. To serve, run thin knife around edge of cheesecake and remove side of pan. Cut into wedges and top each with sauce. Garnish with thin slices of lemon, if desired.

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Cheesecake Mousse with Fig Orange Sauce

Servings: 4

Fig-orange sauce:
  • 1 cup sliced, stemmed Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Figs
  • 2/3 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup packed golden brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange-flavored liqueur or orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
Cheesecake mousse:
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup whipped heavy cream
Topping and garnish:
  • 1/2 cup crumbled shortbread cookies
  • 1/4 cup chopped, toasted pecans or almonds
  • Sprigs of fresh mint, optional
  1. To make sauce, in small saucepan, combine figs and orange juice. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer until liquid is reduced to about 1/4 cup, 4–5 minutes. Stir in brown sugar and simmer until liquid is syrupy, 2–3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in orange liqueur and lemon juice. Chill until serving time.
  2. To make mousse, with wire whisk, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Gently whisk in 1/2 of whipped cream. With rubber spatula, fold in remaining whipped cream. (Sauce and mousse can be held in refrigerator up to 1 day.)
  3. To serve, spoon mousse in bottom of 4 martini or champagne flutes. Smooth to even layer. Top with fig sauce. Sprinkle with crumbled cookies and nuts. Garnish with mint.

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Caramel Fig Mini-Cheesecakes

Servings: 12

  • 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped hazelnuts or pecans
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped, stemmed Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Figs
  • 1/4 cup caramel ice cream topping
  • 3 tablespoons hazelnut liqueur or orange juice
  • 1 pound (two 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • Thinly sliced figs
  • 1/4 cup caramel ice cream topping
  • 1 tablespoon hazelnut liqueur or orange juice
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line 12 (2 3/4-inch) muffin cups with paper cups.
  2. Combine graham cracker crumbs, nuts and melted butter. Press firmly into bottoms of cups. Bake in middle of oven for 5 minutes, till fragrant. Remove from oven and reserve.
  3. In small saucepan, combine figs, caramel topping and liqueur. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly, and cook for 1 minute or until most of liquid is absorbed.
  4. Spoon figs over crusts and press firmly with back of spoon to even layer.
  5. In bowl with electric mixer, beat cream cheese on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping bowl frequently. Beat in sugar, lemon juice and vanilla. On low speed, beat in eggs, one at a time.
  6. Spoon cheese mixture into cups over fig mixture.
  7. Return to middle of oven for 18–20 minutes, till set. Remove from oven and cool in pan on wire rack. Chill in pan for 3 hours.
  8. To serve, carefully remove cheesecakes from pan and paper cups to serving plates. For topping, fan fig slices on top of cheesecakes. Combine caramel topping and liqueur; drizzle over cakes.

Fig and Goat Cheese Squares

Servings: 30

  • 2 cups stemmed Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Figs
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup toasted chopped walnuts
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup packed golden brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 2 cups goat cheese, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease or line 9-by-13-inch baking dish with parchment paper.
  2. In medium saucepan, combine figs, water and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook 5 minutes or until figs are tender. Cool slightly.
  3. Place fig mixture in food processor or blender; process until smooth. Stir in chopped walnuts. Reserve.
  4. Combine flour, brown sugar and salt in bowl. Stir to combine. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Press mixture in prepared baking dish. Gently spread fig mixture over prepared crust.
  5. Beat goat cheese and eggs until smooth. Spread over fig mixture. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until set. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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