Traditionally, figs get stuffed with walnuts and are laid out to be served among the array of sweet and savory bites during the Christmas season, which stretches out until Epiphany for the Greeks. In other words….that’s when we take down the Christmas tree. These figs are extraordinary, easy to make and they look fabulous on a platter.
What’s sets these apart from other “stuffed figs” is the outer layer, made from water, sugar, ground star anise, cocoa powder, semolina flour, tea biscuits and ground walnuts. This mixture is thick, a little sticky but it’s the “somethin-somethin” that makes these sublime. Aristotle wrote, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” and this was true when making these.
Walnuts are good for you, a healthy snack and sure…taste good. Figs are even tastier, fresh or dried and yes…perhaps even an aphrodisiac. The semolina, tea biscuit, ground star anise and walnut mixture tasted okay and while I was chilling it to firm-up, I was concerned this recipe would be mediocre. That all changed when I assembled the stuffed figs, froze them and carefully sliced them in half to reveal the pretty cross-section of the walnut, fig and biscuit/walnut mixture.
Although the figs are the star of this recipe, walnuts are found in three stages: once stuffed inside the fig, a second time ground in the paste with the semolina and tea biscuits and one more time as the balls of stuffed figs are rolled in (you guessed it) ground walnuts before being complete. Other than placing these in the freezer to set overnight, this is an easy recipe and once you’re going to make over and over. I know I will!
approx. 20 dried Greek figs
20 walnut halves
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground star anise (using Ouzo or anise flavoured alcohol will soften the mixture, making it harder to handle)
1/3 cup fine semolina flour
2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1/3 cup ground Petit Beurre tea biscuits
1 1/4 cup ground walnuts
approx. 3/4- 1 cup of ground walnuts for coating
- Place a medium-sized pot on your stovetop with the water and sugar and bring to a boil then add the ground star anise and semolina, cocoa powder and take off the heat and stir for for a minute then add the ground tea biscuits and walnuts and stir-in. Allow the mixture to cool and place in the fridge for two hours.
- In the meantime, snip the stems off your figs (discard) and gently open the top of each fig with your finger and then squeeze a wlabut half in each fig.
- When the ground walnut/bicsuit mixture has cooled (hardened), grease one hand with vegetable oil and place a heaping tablespoon of the mixture (yes it is a little sticky) in one hand and flatten it then place a fig in your palm and enclose it with the mixture in the form of a ball. Now roll each ball in the reserved ground walnuts and place on a large plate/platter.
- Cover and place in the freezer overnight or until ready to serve. To serve, remove from the freezer and carefully slice each stuffed fig in half and place in decorative paper cups and serve.
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