Figs! I know I like them, fresh or dried, but I have not had the occasion to eat them very often.
Years ago, fig squares were around more than they are now, and I would pick them up at a bakery once in a while; and in my childhood there always seemed to be Fig Newton cookies in the house; but that was about it.
In the last couple of years, I have begun to see fresh figs (in season late August through September), in more recipes in magazines and on TV, as well as on menus in restaurants, especially when used in appetizers and hors d’oeuvres.
Dried figs appear to be gaining popularity fairly recently, mostly in baked goods.
I easily found them in the produce section with other dried fruits, and also saw them alongside dates and raisins.
The recipes I have for you today came highly recommended, and there is a bit of a story behind it. In October 2010 I did a Taste of Times video for an appetizer recipe, “Gorgonzola-Stuffed Figs.” In doing some research into fresh figs, their availability, when in season, etc. I located a website that had plenty of information, even providing telephone numbers that I could call with questions, which I did. My call was returned by a home economist who was delighted in my interest, and we ended up talking for quite a while about figs and baking. She sent me some great recipes, two of which are the recipes for today. She specifically urged me to make the German chocolate cake, telling me that her 15-year-old son had a sports function to attend, and a food contribution was expected. She and her son made the cakes below and they were a big hit. I took her advice, thrilled to see that the recipe starts out with a boxed mix. I always love to see that in a recipe; what a great shortcut.