If you have any intention of serving a cheese board at your holiday get-together, let us suggest whipping up some of these easy and delectable Spanish Fig and Almond Balls. They would also make a wonderful gift for the cheese lover, wrapped in cellophane and accompanied by a wedge of good cheese.
The recipe comes from Good Food and is based on a Spanish fig cake or pan de higo. Made with dried figs and almonds plus honey and spices like cloves, pan de higo is rich and deep, and sweet but not overly so. As our resident cheesemonger Nora has written, this traditional "cake" makes a terrific accompaniment to all kinds of cheese.
Good Food's version also includes dried apricots and cranberries, which give it a festive flair. It comes together super quickly with a food processor and a little manual kneading to mix the ingredients into a thick, sticky paste. Once the mixture is shaped and rolled in sesame seeds, it just needs to sit for about a week to dry and for the flavors to cure.
• Get the recipe: Spanish fig & almond balls (Good Food)
Ideally, one would use Spanish marcona almonds but we just used regular ones and the result was delicious. There's also a bit of brandy in the recipe; a sweet, heavy Spanish brandy might be the best kind to use, but we used the Calvados (apple brandy) we already had on hand and it was perfectly fine.
The recipe makes about 6 tennis-sized balls, 12 golf ball-sized balls, or 24 bite-sized balls. You could also present the same mixture in different shapes. Check out these other sites for more shaping and wrapping inspiration:
• Shaped in a muffin tin at Apple Pie, Patis, & Pâté
• Log shaped at The Gilded Fork
• Cake shaped at Capricho de hoy
• Decorated with almonds at La despensita Andaluza
• Pressed between sheets of rice paper at Straight Into Bed Cakefree and Dried
• Small disks wrapped in a bow at My Comfort Food Network
Related: DIY Fall Appetizer: Fig Salami
(Image: Emily Ho)