This is the third and last of my Portuguese recipes for this great ethnic meal; I, however, serve this candy/fruit figos recheados with many other meals as well.
When I entertain, I always serve homemade candies along with the dessert. Usually these are my Peruvian bolitos de chocolat y coco (see 2016/11/28) and the treasured national candy of India barfi; this recipe will follow in the future. Lately, however, Portuguese figos recheados (figs stuffed with chocolate and almonds) are the final inspiration at my dinners. Such was the recent case with my beloved missionary friends Val and Waffle Lomilo. I take a tangent today into their world, so we can learn better to eat with reverence.
My relationship with Val goes back 22 years. Our mutual friend Kelly, who now resides in heaven, introduced us to each other in 1995, over slides in her basement of Val’s mission work in Uganda. My heart had just been softened, by my asking Jesus to live in it; thus, my supple emotions were mesmerized by this people and especially their food.
I learned that the meager diet of these poorest of poor, which are in my friends’ arid, mission region, consists primarily of foraged herbs and a bitter fruit with its nut, which is boiled three times to make it palatable; garden vegetables are available only as the frequent droughts allow; maize (cooked corn mush) and beans are also a luxury, which they can’t always afford.
The diet of the wealthier, in Uganda’s more lush areas, has a greater amount of organic garden vegetables, along with such fruits as mangoes and papayas, and ample beans and maize. Also to my delight, it includes the ceremonial slaughter of a chicken for honored guests.
This nourishment of these better-off is simple and pure, making it healthier than ours with all our fast foods and altered ingredients, such as added hormones in meat/dairy products, foods with GMO’s, etc. (Note: in this poor country genetically moderated organisms being added to their crops is just now becoming a controversy; they have already lifted the ban for GMO’s in the banana crop, due to its recent huge failure.)
In America food is so available that obesity is a major problem. Our countrymen are often thrilled with weight loss when they visit Africa. On the other hand, Africans are overjoyed with the compliment ‘you look so fat’, and gratitude is expressed after a meal with ‘thank you for increasing my volume’.
At present there is a famine in Uganda’s arid region, which hurts the children and elderly the most. We in this country can’t comprehend such food shortage and its effect on the human spirit. According to my friends, it produces a sense of deep community, in those that withstand it, as they share each other’s pain. These humble people know the true meaning of God’s grace that keeps them alive in stark adversity.
Waffle and Val, who experience a heart for the broken, feed these hungry souls the word of God, which is also known as the bread of life. This proven substance, in turn, can provide them with answers to their natural needs, for this is what our gracious Father does best.
We are grateful for our vast provision here in America, as we strive to honor our bodies with healthy eating. At the same time, our faithful prayers move mountains as we intercede for those less-fortunate.
Now, may we take courage to experience moderate, joy-filled pleasure in this incredible dessert: be blessed by these simple figos recheados, the last recipe in my Portuguese series.
Figos Recheados (dried figs stuffed with almonds and chocolate) Yields: 12 large stuffed figs. Total prep time: 35 min.
Note: these are best served hot, but they are also great at either room temperature or cold.
1/4 cup almonds, plus 12 extra almonds (18 extra almonds will be needed for topping smaller figs, such as mission figs.)
12 large figs (Turkish figs are best for size and quality; 18 figs will be needed, if using the smaller mission fig.)
1/2 ounce (1/2 square) semi-sweet chocolate, finely grated
- For hot figs at the end of a meal, do steps 2-9 ahead; then, set aside. Twenty minutes before serving, preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake as directed in step 10-11.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Place almonds on a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes in middle of oven; go to next step.
- With a sharp knife, finely grate the chocolate, place in a small bowl, set aside (see photo above).
- Cut off stems of figs; make a careful, but deep, indentation in the opening of each with the tip of your finger; set aside.
- After nuts are toasted, remove from oven, and take off pan to cool quickly. Set aside 12 almonds (18 for smaller figs) and pulverize the other 1/4 cup in a food processor, by repeatedly touching the pulse button. (May use a blender or Vita Mix.)
- Add almond meal to grated chocolate; mix well.
- Using a spoon and your finger, press this mixture in the hollow of each of the figs; pinch openings together firmly (see above photo). Place stuffed figs, stem side up, on a foil-lined baking sheet.
- Bake in middle of an oven, preheated to 350 degrees, for 5 minutes; then, turn figs upside down and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
- Gently, but firmly, press a whole toasted almond in top of each hot fig.
- May keep leftovers in refrigerator for future use (cold figs are also excellent).