“I came across something that seems to be called ‘fig cheese’ while searching the Internet for a food containing both figs and chocolate,” says dbstraight. “Apparently, it’s something from the Algarve.” What is this mysterious concoction?
“I do not know Portugal intimately, but have visited the Algarve region. There are indeed what translates to ‘fig cheese,'” says mels. “They are cakes made with figs and called ‘fig cheese’ because they resemble little wheels of cheese. They are a chocolate, cinnamon, and fig concoction.”
“It’s a regional sweet or ‘doce’ from the Algarve which is often served on the first day of May and sometimes called ‘queijo de maio,'” says itaunas. “This makes a lot of sense given the dried figs, which would be from the previous harvest.”
“I would guess it’s the almonds which are important, more so than chocolate. In fact I have seen some older recipes which just use figs, raw almonds, and Portuguese grappa (which might have a bit of anise flavor),” says itaunas. “There are also similar sweets (no chocolate) from the northeast of Brazil using cashew nuts and fruit.” And there is a similar sweet in Spain, where it’s known as pan de higo, says Harters.