Candied preserved figs are a typical dessert of the Ecuadorian Sierra, but are especially prevalent in the Carnival season, which begins in February. These sugary sweets are served both warm and cold, often with fresh cheese, on a roll. The Spanish word for fig is higo, so if you find yourself walking down a street and hear a vendor yelling higo! higo! higo!, make sure to stop and try one. If not, try making them on your own. Though they’re time-consuming, they are not overly complicated.
- 20 fresh ripe (but firm) figs, rinsed
- Pinch of baking soda
- 1.5 lbs panela or hard brown cane sugar
- Cinnamon sticks, cloves, and other spices of choice
- Slices of quesillo or queso fresco
- Sweet rolls
- Cut the figs crosswise.
- Place the figs in a bowl, cover with water, and let soak for 24 hours.
- Rinse the figs, place them in a medium saucepan over medium heat and cover with 8 cups of water.
- Add the baking soda and bring the water to a boil. Cook for about 15-20 minutes, until the figs are soft.
- Remove from the heat and let the figs soak in the same water for another 24 hours.
- Drain all the water from the figs and gently squeeze each fig to remove as much liquid as possible.
- Place the panela or hard brown cane sugar and the spices in a large saucepan, cover with 6 cups of water and cook on low heat until the panela or cane sugar has dissolved completely.
- Add the figs to this mix and simmer until the syrup has begun to thicken (this will take at least a couple of hours), stirring occasionally.
- Can be served either warm or cold, with a slice of cheese on a sweet roll, with cheese alone, or on its own.
Adapted from a Laylita recipe.