Fig Filling

 I've spent years making and tweaking my fig filling recipe.  My recipe stopped evolving when I spent the day with my friend, Mary Beth and her 92-year-old grandmother, baking fig cookies for a St Joseph Altar.  In New Orleans, elaborate altars are constructed on March 19, the feast day of St. Joseph.  This Italian-American tradition commemorates the relief St. Joseph provided during a famine in Sicily.  The altars provide visitors a way to express gratitude for any fortune in their lives.  

Preparation for St Joseph altars begin months in advance.  I made about 1,000 cookies the year that I assisted Mary Beth with her altar.  I was amazed as I watched her grandmother's skilled hands prepare delicate little cookies all day long.  As we shared baking tips, they were surprised to discover that I add a touch of black pepper and a splash of red wine to my fig filling.  They taught me to add preserves to my fig filling.  

  I primarily use fig filling to make cookies, but I have been known to experiment with it.  I have layered the filling in a vanilla cake with delicious results.  I have also baked the filling with Brie for a quick and easy appetizer.  Although the fig filling recipe is complete, the uses for it continue to evolve.

 

Fig Filling

Makes 4 cups

1 cup apricot preserves (pineapple or peach can be substituted)

1 cup fig preserves

1 pound dried figs, any variety, stems removed

1 cup raisins

1 Tablespoon orange zest

1 Tablespoon fresh ground cinnamon

2 Tablespoons red wine (optional)

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

 

Place the apricot preserves, fig preserves, figs, raisins, orange zest, cinnamon, wine and black pepper in a food processor.  Pulse until the ingredients are spreadable and a slightly chunky consistency.  Use the prepared filling for fig cookies or as a condiment with charcuterie/cheese plate.