Queijo de figo

Queijo de figoA traditional dessert from the Algarve region of Portugal. Traditionally served on the first of May but also very popular around Christmas time.

This wonderful little fig cake is called fig cheese because it resembles a cheese wheel.

If you like giving home made gifts at Christmas then these should definitely be on your list. They are very easy to make would be an unusual addition to a Christmas hamper or cheese board.

From the recipe below I make three 280 g cheeses but of course you can make them any size you wish.

I have decorated mine with a whole dried fig but whole blanched almonds are the usual decoration.

QUEIJO DE FIGO
(Portuguese Fig Cheese)

INGREDIENTS:

270 g ground almonds
150 ml water
250 g sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon anise seeds or 1 star anise
peel from 1 lemon
28 g cocoa powder
270 g dried figs, diced
icing sugar for sifting
3 whole dried figs or 12 whole blanched almonds for decoration

METHOD:

Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6.

Spread the ground almonds on a baking tray and roast in the centre of the oven for about 10 minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring a couple of times to prevent burning around the edges.

While the almonds are roasting make the chocolate syrup.
Place the water, sugar, cinnamon, the anise, the lemon peel and cocoa powder in a large saucepan.
Bring to the boil on a medium heat and continue to boil for 4-5 minutes until you have a syrup that will thickly coat the back of a metal spoon. Remove the star anise if used.

Add the chopped figs and cook for 1 minute more.

Stir in the roasted almonds and mix everything together well. Set aside to cool.

When cool enough to handle tip onto a surface dusted with icing sugar. Split into three equal pieces and shape each one into a round then flatten with your hand to make a disc shape.

Decorate with the figs or blanched almonds and dust with icing sugar. Wrap in cling film and store in an airtight tin for up to three weeks.

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