- 1 1/2 cup whole or halved walnuts or pecans
- 4 tablespoons salted butter
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 3/4 cup Kentucky bourbon (Jim Beam Black® is best)
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 cups diced dried Mission figs (or other combination of dried fruit)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or Limoncello
- Pinch sea salt
- 1 package (.4 ounces) fruit pectin (about 4 1/2 teaspoons)
- 8 ounces cream cheese, Brie, or Stilton, softened or at room temperature
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 6 to 8 minutes until lightly toasted and fragrant. Shake the pan every minute or two, so the nuts do not burn. Remove them from the oven and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, melt butter, sugar, and bourbon in a saucepan on low heat; then add the cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, and stir well.
3. Add figs (or other dried fruit), vanilla extract, lemon juice or Limoncello, and salt. Let mixture steep for about 10 to 15 minutes, until the fruit is plump and soft.
4. Sprinkle pectin over fruit. Stir well and turn up heat to medium. Cook until bubbly, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
5. Toast bread, if using, and cut into triangles; slice bagels, if using, toast and cut each half into four to eight pieces.
6. Pour warm compote over cheese and scatter nuts on top. Serve with assorted toasted Panera® breads and bagels, such as French, Whole Grain, and Honey Wheat Breads or Cinnamon Crunch, Cinnamon Swirl & Raisin, or French Toast Bagels.
TIP: If you prefer, use a combination of golden raisins, dried cranberries, or diced dried apricots in place of some or all of the figs. Just make sure your final amount is 2 cups total.
from West Pittston, Pennsylvania
For easy entertaining, make this rich, sweet compote a day ahead of time and refrigerate it so the flavors blend. Warm it up just before serving it over cream cheese, Brie, or Stilton with an assortment of toasted breads or bagels.
The recipe was inspired by a trip to Balducci's in New York City, where I met the owner of Mt. Vikos® cheeses, who shared an old family recipe. He was a delightful man and understandably was all about goat cheese. I thought goat cheese might come across a bit strong, so I needed a vehicle to take this new taste back to my friends in northeastern Pennsylvania. It was in the fall when we have nuts and dried fruit stored from summer. So I took an old favorite - pecan tassie filling - and added the bourbon for more flavor and figs for more body and texture. I am a fan of using what you have in the pantry at the time; I had cream cheese, which paired well and cut some of the sweetness. It appeared very fancy but was so very simple. It was a hit with my friends and family. So when our wine group met for a fall tasting party, I made it and it was again a hit. A local restaurant owner - who is part of our group and hosts wine classes at her restaurant - asked me to help out with a holiday food and wine class and make this for the class. Since it cans very well, I made a can for each class member. Hot packing allowed for it to sit on the shelf until they wanted to use it, hopefully taking some of the stress from their holiday. Later, the restaurant adopted it for their menu.
Nutrition (per serving): 249 calories, 3 g protein, 24 g carbohydrates, 14 g fat, 23 mg cholesterol, 77 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber