Pan de Higo – Spanish Fig Cake

Pan de Higo - Spanish Fig Cakes and Ground Almonds

Do you twist Oreos apart and eat the filling by itself? Doing the same filling finagling maneuver with Fig Newtons is a lot messier but I can’t help it. The is-it-cake-or-is-it-cookie sawdust exterior merely gets in the way of fig enjoyment by jamming itself in between teeth and up roofs of mouth. It’s nothing more than a bland delivery device for the sweet interior if you ask me.

I only want the fig filling. This classic Spanish method for preserving and spicing figs satisfies that need and soundly beats anything an automatic fig extruder can produce.

Unlike Oreo filling, which is basically shortening creamed with sugar, figs and almonds are the main ingredients in pan de higo so it also has a lot going for it in the nutritional value department. Both are packed with nutrients — figs are rich in fiber and almonds supposedly keep you smart. Compare with the effects of eating massive amounts of sweetened semisolid fat: sugar high, crash, guilt, and depression, most likely in that order.

Think Spice Think Anise Seed Cinnamon Cloves
Think Spice… Think Anise Seed, Cinnamon, and Cloves
hosted by Sunita’s World

recipe adapted from The Gilded Fork

Pan de Higo
Spanish Fig Cake

makes 1 large loaf or 8 mini fig cakes

Pan de Higo Ingredients - Sesame Seeds and Spices
cinnamon, cloves, anise seeds, sesame seeds, and dried mission figs

1 pound dried figs, stemmed
1/2 cup almonds
2 tablespoons whole sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole anise seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
a pinch of ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon honey
brandy, as needed

Notes:

  • Almond meal is a good substitute for the 1/2 cup of whole almonds. Toast about 5 ounces of almond meal on a dry skillet briefly and use in place of the whole almonds.
  • I only needed about 2-3 tablespoons of brandy to bring everything together. If my mom’s fruit cake making wisdom is accurate, the alcohol acts as a natural preservative.

Instructions:

Toast the almonds in a dry skillet and grind in a food processor or spice grinder. Pulse gently until roughly chopped, keeping the almonds from turning into a paste.

Using a food processor or two Chinese cleavers (guess which method I used), mince the stemmed figs until a rough paste is formed.

Mix the figs with the ground toasted almonds, sesame seeds, anise seeds, ground cloves, and ground cinnamon.

Pan de Higo Ingredients - Sesame Seeds and Ground Almonds

Add the honey and a few tablespoons of brandy to the fig mixture. Knead until a smooth and pliant ball is formed. The fig mixture will be crumbly but keep kneading until the ingredients are evenly incorporated. Add more brandy as needed.

Form the fig mixture into a loaf shape or use a muffin pan as a mold to form 8 single-serving fig cakes:

Pan de Higo - Spanish Fig Cakes Shaping Mini

Let stand in a cool and dry place for 2-3 days before serving. The anise seeds, cinnamon, and cloves will mellow and meld together nicely, serving as a nice accent to the sweet figs and toasted almonds.

To Serve:

Serve with Manchego cheese or with any cheese platter. I prefer dipping pan de higo slices in honey and then in ground toasted almonds.

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58 Responses to “Pan de Higo – Spanish Fig Cake”

  1. Dee says:

    Yay, dried figs! Finally.

    There are some amazing fig recipes floating around but all require fresh figs :( I have a pack of dried figs from the middle eastern shop sitting in the fridge that I’ve been dying to play with. Thanks Jude. I’m bookmarking this, although I haven’t attempted your ancho chile dish yet. Must get cracking soon.

    last blog post: Mmm… Malaysia

  2. Nicisme says:

    My husband would love these as he is a Fig Newton fan!

    last blog post: The view from Helvellyn

  3. clumbsycookie says:

    I love Pan de Higos (and fresh figs as you may have noticed, lol). Here in Portugal it’s very popular as well, and we have it a lot arround Christmas time. Here we call it “fig cheese”, but it’s the same thing. You did such a great job with it, I like the way you shaped it. It’s so smoth and perfect!

    last blog post: Fig & Anise Jam

  4. Marija says:

    So simple, yet unbelievably beautiful!

    last blog post: Chocolate Dimply Plum Cake

  5. Ben says:

    I bet this are deliciosos with Manchego cheese. Great recipe!

  6. Joelen says:

    This looks awesome Jude, great job! I enjoy figs but don’t work with them as often as I’d like. Now I have another recipe to try out the next time I pick some up!

    last blog post: Makin’ Maki Sushi Round Up!

  7. Madam Chow says:

    This looks wonderful. I LOVE Fig Newtons!

    last blog post: Semolina Sourdough Focaccia

  8. kat says:

    yum figs!

    last blog post: Faux Fried Chicken & Biscuits

  9. sunita says:

    I adore figs and this is a wonderful recipe. Thanks for sending it over :-)

    last blog post: Some indulgence…

  10. rainbowbrown says:

    Ooh. Well now. I’m off to catch me some figs.

    last blog post: TWD Chocolate Banded Ice Cream Torte

  11. Carolyn Jung says:

    Mmm, I can just taste this alongside some salty Manchego cheese. Just picturing it makes me think of my long-ago trip to Spain, where eating was so imbued with tradition, celebration, and joy.

  12. Kevin says:

    These fig and nut treats sound so good!

    last blog post: Sweet Corn Ice Cream

  13. lalaine says:

    I apologize but my question is going to be off topic…is that bowl you use to combine ingredients a pyrex bowl? I am sorry for asking…I collect pyrex mixing bowls (old ones) and I was wondering if you’d consider selling?…teehehee. Red in the face here. I am just addicted to this type of pyrex and they becoming harder to find by the day..

  14. Trisha says:

    No longer a Fig Newton fan, but always and forever a fig fan. I must attempt these — they’re darling. I like Ben’s manchego cheese thought.

    last blog post: Gratuitous sharing

  15. noobcook says:

    so unique… and so delicious looking ^^ yums

  16. dee – Can’t find any fresh figs around here for some reason. Gotta make do with the fresh for now.

    nicisme – So much better than a newton, too.

    clumbsycookie – Definitely noticed it.. Haha. I want to try out some of your stuff (if only I could find fresh figs).

    marija – So easy to put together… Need to wait a few days for the best taste, though.

    ben – Just ran out of Manchego.. Time to replenish the store.

    joelen – The figs were a bit sticky but it was a lot like bread dough. It’s so good with the spices.

    chow – You’ll definitely lilke this much better, then.

    kat – :)

    sunita – Very cool event… Looking forward to the roundup.

    rainbow – Me too. Should’ve made a triple batch.

    carolyn – Manchego is so good with this, maybe along with a good sherry.

    kevin – Yup.. good stuff for sure.

    lalaine – It is a pyrex. It was actually handed down from my mom so it’s something I plan to hold on to. It’s kind of funny because other people have also asked about it.

    trisha – Hope you like it! It’s a really nice way to flavor dried figs.

    noobcook – That’s it.. I’m making a triple batch tomorrow.

  17. Colloquial Cook says:

    Wow, I am a major fig fan (some might say fetichist). This is bliss! It must be quite fun to knead all the ingredients together!!

    last blog post: Mirabelle plum tart

  18. maybelles mom (feeding maybelle) says:

    what an interesting post. In Goa we have a very similar cake b/c we were under Portuguese control.

    last blog post: Fennel Handpies

  19. Maya says:

    Great recipe – the brandy will help it keep for awhile. Thanks for the recipe! I am always buying fig cakes to go with some cheese when I have people over. Now I can make these little beauties instead of buying those cakes.

    last blog post: Dimply Plum Cake

  20. The Wind Attack says:

    Ohh, those look so good. I love figs so much. I’m going to have to try this recipe soon!

  21. Mike says:

    I’ve been trying to plan a few fig desserts recently and had never heard of this before–this looks awesome!

  22. Syrie says:

    Fabulous, healthy and beautiful photos. I adore figs. I love it when their seeds pop in my mouth.

    last blog post: New York

  23. Mrs. L says:

    Wow these look awesome and so much better I’m sure than the fig newtons I used to eat as a kid (yes, I used to eat the filling out of them, I was considered strange!)

    last blog post: SHRIMP PAD THAI

  24. holler says:

    Ok, so you have me hooked! That sounds great :)

    last blog post: Strawberry & Peach Jam

  25. Dragon says:

    Well I know I can be smarter and I can always use more fiber so…..pass me a fig cake! :)

    last blog post: Poached Salmon with Mousseline Sauce

  26. Susan says:

    Very nice! Would be lovely paired with marcona almonds and perhaps a glass of ruby port.

    last blog post: African Peanut and Yam Soup – My Legume Love Affair-Second Helping

  27. Alexa says:

    That looks awesome. I love it… Why waste precious time on the cookie, go straight to the filling. Yum!

    last blog post: Izmir Kofte– A Meatball Dish With a Hint of Cinnamon

  28. [eatingclub] vancouver || js says:

    Looks fantastic! I wasn’t a fig newton fan when I was going up but I’ve developed a taste for figs later in life. This looks yummy and healthy.

    last blog post: Jalapeño Cupcake: My Very First Cupcake

  29. Rachel says:

    Those look so tasty. I’m bookmarking the recipe, but I’m almost afraid to make it because I think I’ll make myself sick eating it all! I still peel the crumbly outside off of fig newtons and just eat the centers…and people still look at me oddly. Ah well, it’s nice to know I’m not the only one!

    last blog post: Home Again

  30. Carm says:

    Wow that looks good! Gosh ur a brilliant cook… I’m searching your site for a savoury tart recipe for dinner… but can’t help drooling over the sweet stuff ;)

  31. Sunita’s World | Think spice…think ‘favourite’- round up says:

    [...] Jude’s Pan de Higo – Spanish Fig Cake [...]

  32. Zeynep says:

    is it suitable for people suffers from celiac disease ?

  33. Sunshinemom says:

    A few days back I saw a similar recipe for raw vegan tart base with appropriate changes. In India you will find these sold as ‘barfis’. I like them very much too but we use halved toasted almonds and dates to bring the ingredients together. Just the thought of all those spicy flavors makes me drool!

  34. Fig and Fennel Bread « A Bread A Day says:

    [...] sorts of confections that fresh ones never could, like the traditional Spanish fig and almond cake, pan de higo.  And while fresh figs can certainly stand up brilliantly to cheese, I think dried figs have the [...]

  35. Spanish Fig Cake - Pan de Higo | Comfy Tummy says:
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  37. Weekend Food Porn Part 3: Bacon & Eggs with Country Style Sweet Potatoes & Red Onion | Free The Animal says:

    [...] but now I need to find a recipe for doing one of those fig cakes you see in deli sections sometime. Something like this, perhaps. Of course, seasonality and moderation is key. One thing is for sure: I much prefer dried [...]

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