Pan de higo, or Spanish fig cake, isn't really cake at all. It's more of a dense block or brick of dried fruit and nuts similar is consistency to a chewy granola bar. Traditional pan de higo contains honey, ground cloves, and brandy—ingredients that make it perfect for the holiday season. Naturally, it pairs exceptionally well with Spanish meats and cheeses, like jamon iberico and manchego, but really it would make a terrific accompaniment to any cheese or charcuterie plate.
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Since cheese plates are just about my favorite thing in the whole world, you would think I'd be a big fan of pan de higo. But the truth is, while I adore plump, juicy fresh figs, dried figs have always left me a little cold. They can be so tough and leathery, and the seeds never fail to get stuck in my teeth. This year, inspired by a post I read on The Kitchn, I decided to make pan de higo with dried apricots and cranberries in addition to the figs.
After a little more Internet sleuthing, I also decided to use a muffin pan to shape my pan de higo into individual cakes. One batch would yield gifts for a whole slew of friends. Plus, each cake would be the perfect "cheese plate" size. Another added bonus was that I could make them way in advance. Pan de higo will keep for at least a month wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature.
This recipe for apricot cranberry pan de higo is really simple to prepare. Ground, toasted almonds are combined with finely chopped dried fruit, sesame seeds, crushed fennel seeds, cinnamon, cloves, and honey. A few tablespoons of brandy binds everything together.
The cakes turn out sweet and nutty with hints of licorice and booze. While the flavors of the figs and apricots are clearly present, it's the tart cranberries that really come through. The little red flecks look really pretty and festive as well! Pair one or two cakes with a bottle of sherry and wedge of aged hard cheese and you can't go wrong.
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