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It may look like I'm cheating with this here recipe because it's part recycled, since it's topped with last week's Higos en Miel, but this is a legitimate dessert in Nicaragua with strong ties to my youth.
On Sundays when we weren't visiting the grandparents in Granada, my family would go to 11:00 a.m. mass. At that time of day it was not yet hot as Hades, but it was decidedly purgatorial, especially if you'd snuck into the house past curfew the night before and if you'd adhered to the fasting-for-an-hour-prior-to-mass rule.
Blood sugar levels at dangerously low levels, I'd climb into the outsized Land Cruiser like a wounded mountain goat negotiating a precipitous cliff. My glassy eyes stared dully out the window, dead to the world until a younger sibling would start squirming and poking and nagging, as younger siblings like to do when their older and much wiser sisters are in the depths of despair, brooding over Sally snagging Johnny.
Lunch was usually at a popular steak house like Los Ranchos, known for the churrasco and creamy salsa jalapeña. The dessert menu was flimsy and limited to a few uninspired ice cream flavors, the unavoidable overcooked flan, and cocoa-deficient chocolate cake, but there was one saving grace: the torta de higos. It's an easy construction of three components: cake, custard, and poached figs, but together, holy trinity, Batman!
I think there was a single supplier for the torta, and you could only either have it at a few restaurants in town, or order it for special events. It was always a treat and a delight, and the one saving grace of a cheerless Sunday, but...Last time I had it, sacrilegious as it may be, I found it lacking. The cake was dry and tasted of cheap imitation vanilla, the custard was thick with too much cornstarch, and the figs were but a stingy garnish.
I hope my version will be a Sunday favorite: I brush the cake with some fig syrup so it soaks up the sweetness, top it with a less rigid custard, and of course, crown the torte with a generous amount of figs.
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