MISSION, KS--(Marketwire - November 29, 2010) - (Family Features) 'Tis the season for holiday parties -- and that means serving something special to your guests. These festive recipes make the most of golden, slightly nutty-flavored Calimyrna figs and dark, sweet-tasting Mission figs. These appetizers are the perfect blend of sweet and savory that will give your guests something to celebrate.

For more festive recipes, visit www.valleyfig.com.

Fudgy Fig No-Bake Brownie Bites
Makes 24 brownies

1   package (9 ounces) Famous Chocolate Wafers
1   cup stemmed, finely chopped Blue Ribbon® Orchard Choice® or Sun-Maid® Dried California Figs
1/2   cup chopped, toasted pecans or walnuts
3   tablespoons confectioners' (powdered) sugar
1/8   teaspoon salt
1/2   cup half and half
1   cup (6 ounces) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate morsels
1/2   teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2   cup chopped figs or toasted nuts

Line 24 mini muffin pan cups with decorative paper or foil liners (or line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil or plastic wrap, extending up sides); set aside.

Whirl wafers in food processor (or place in sealable plastic bag and crush with rolling pin) to make fine crumbs. Place in large bowl.

Stir in figs, nuts, confectioners' sugar and salt. Pour half and half into microwave-safe bowl and heat on 100% power in microwave oven for 30 seconds or until boiling. (Or bring half and half to a boil in small saucepan over medium-high heat.)

Add chocolate morsels and set aside for 1 minute to soften. Stir until chocolate melts. Stir in vanilla. Pour over fig mixture and stir until blended. While warm, spoon brownie mixture into lined muffin cups or baking pan and press with back of oiled spoon to an even layer. Sprinkle with topping.

Chill 2 hours or until set. If using a square pan, cut into 24 brownies. Store in the refrigerator.

Fig Lollipops
Makes 12 

12   large Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid Dried California Figs
3/4   cup (about 4 ounces) semisweet chocolate, milk chocolate or white morsels
12   4-inch bamboo skewers
2   oranges or grapefruits
    Sea salt, kosher salt, finely chopped toasted nuts and/or colored sugar sprinkles

With scissors or sharp knife, cut off fig stems and discard. Flatten each fig with palm of hand. Place one fig on each skewer to look like a lollipop.

Place oranges in small bowls to hold lollipops while chocolate cools. Microwave morsels in microwave-safe bowl on MEDIUM (50%) power for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted and smooth.

Dip skewered figs, partially or completely, into melted chocolate. Sprinkle each with a pinch of salt, finely chopped nuts or sugar sprinkles, as desired. Poke skewers in oranges. Chill until set.

Fig and Bacon Cheddar Bites
Makes 20 appetizers 

1   cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2   ounces (1/4 cup) cream cheese, softened
1/2   cup stemmed and chopped (1/4-inch) Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid Dried California Figs
1/3   cup thinly sliced green onions
2   tablespoons dry sherry
2/3   cup cooked, chopped bacon
20   thin slices (cut diagonally) baguette

In small bowl, stir together cheddar and cream cheeses. Stir in figs, green onions and sherry. Can be prepared a day ahead and stored in a covered container in the refrigerator.

To serve, preheat oven to 375°F. Place baguette slices on large baking sheet. Place in oven for 4 to 5 minutes or until lightly toasted. Spread fig mixture on baguette slices. Top with bacon. Return to oven for 4 to 5 minutes or until cheese melts.

Chili-Spiced Cereal & Fig Snack Mix
Makes about 7 cups

1 1/2   cups stemmed, chopped (1/2 inch) Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid Dried California Figs
3   cups crisp cereal squares (mix equal amounts of rice, wheat and corn varieties)
1   cup small square cheese-flavored crackers
1   cup bite-size pretzels
1   cup Spanish red-skinned peanuts or other roasted nuts
3   tablespoons vegetable oil
2   teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1   teaspoon chili powder
1/2   teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2   teaspoon ground cumin
1/4   teaspoon garlic or onion salt
1/8   teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

Preheat oven to 250°F.

Place figs in small bowl. In separate small bowl, stir together oil and remaining seasoning ingredients. Drizzle 2 teaspoons seasoning mixture over figs and toss to blend; set aside.
In large bowl, combine cereal, crackers, pretzels and nuts. Drizzle with remaining seasoning mixture. Toss to blend.

Spread on large baking sheet. Place in oven and roast for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes and adding figs during last 10 minutes. Spread mixture on paper towels to cool. Store in airtight container.

Did You Know?
Whether you savor flavorful dried California figs as a snack or in your favorite recipes, figs are always rich in complex carbohydrates, a great source of dietary fiber and a wealth of essential minerals such as potassium, iron and calcium.

  • Storing and Using Figs
  • Use a sharp knife or a pair of kitchen scissors to cut up figs. Run the knife under hot water when it gets sticky.
  • Store figs in refrigerator after opening for up to six months.
  • Mission and Calimyrna figs can be used interchangeably in most recipes.
  • Figs are the perfect complement to all types of cheeses.
  • Chop figs and add to cereals and side dishes for a hint of sweetness.