Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Smokvenjak - dried fig cake with the Gligora cheese

The summer has finally began.. at least on the coast. The sun is getting hotter, but it is still too early to be picking our first fresh figs. Wherever I go, I watch them on the branches, not nearly ripe enough to eat.

Figs and cheese are a combination I love, so the  Žigljen Sirane Gligora cheese, which I had been enjoying the past few days, gave me an idea how to fulfill it with a true, traditional dalmatian taste of the Adriatic.



A dried fig cake is a simple, healthy and a very traditional sweet for which, apart from figs and a bit of schnapps, you dont really need to use any other ingredient.

You can adjust this recipe to your likings - you may choose hazelnuts instead of almonds, or maybe some dried fruit like limoncini, arancini, cranberries or even lavander- the choice is all yours.



What makes a difference between a good and a bad fig cake are the juicy dried figs and quality schnapps.



In my fig cake, I used maraska cherry schnapps which I bought in my recent visit to the gorgeous city of Zadar. The difference between the taste of classical schnapps, that most people find too strong, and the one I used is - the maraska schnapps is sweet, fruity and therefore fits perfectly with this traditional fruit dessert. Instead, you can of course use a different kind like herbal schnapps, Loza..




Smokvenjak
Dried fig cake with almonds and limoncini

150g dried figs
50g almonds (slightly roasted)
10-20g limoncini / arancini (lemon/orange candied zest- you can make them yourself too)
30ml schnapps of your choice


In a food processor, chop up the roasted almonds and limoncini to the size you would like in your cake (i suggest to the tiny pieces, since it would be more gentle in the cake than the rough pieces).
Take it out of the food processor and set aside.
Put the dried figs and schnapps in the food processor and pulse it with breaks until you get a nice fig paste. In the case the mixture seems too dry, you may add a bit more schnapps. The paste should be of a kneading consistency.
Add the almonds in the fig mixture and knead it by hand. Split the ball in 2-3 parts and form them into balls. You may help yourself using a round cookie cutter to put the ball inside and press it down so that you make a round, even shape of the cake.
You can generally eat the fig cake at that moment as it is, but if you want to be able to cut it, set it out to dry in the oven on 80C for 40-60 minutes, with the oven partially open (you can block the oven from closing with a wooden spoon, so that the moist leaves the oven).
Dry the cakes until they get a dry skin around them and seem more compact, able to be cut.

Cool the cakes completely before you serve them.



Smokvenjak is a type of dessert that could easily be compared to the todays "energy bar", and it was used to bring back energy to the field workers. It was traditionally served sliced in triangle slices or like a sausage, with an aperitif drink. For this occasion though, I decided to serve it with almonds, honey and a shot of schnapps.. and of course, the star of the meal - the cheese by Sirane Gligora. Žigljen  which is a hard cheese made of cow and sheep milk, of a slightly spicy flavour.




The figs and cheese are good friends and bring them together in a meal with no fear of the sceptics in your company that may think twice about trying it. Even they give up after trying this combination.

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