My dear friend Karon at Larder Love posted about these scrumptious little Christmas goodies and I had to make them. And now I want you to make them, too! They are the perfect little hostess or neighbor gift and on a cold and rainy afternoon, after a day spent hustling and bustling around the mall, there is nothing better than sitting in front of the telly with a plate of cheese, crackers and a figgy pudding ball, neatly sliced for the perfect bite!
Before I give you the figgy pudding details, let me just say how happy I am that Mrs. Santa Claus did not succeed in her attempt to kill me. She is rather old and I'm sure she didn't mean to but when I plugged her in, apparently she didn't like it and I was sent reeling with an electric shock that shot up my arm, blew the plug apart and scorched the tile. The mister was a witness to it all and guess what he did?? C'mon, surely you know his first words were, "That better come off the tile!!!" I was flailing about the kitchen and he was worried about the tile, oy vey. Once he had ascertained the tile was going to survive, he turned his attentions to me but I was worried about Mrs. Santa Claus!!! I quickly regained my wits, at least half of them, straightened my halo and scampered to the garage to find another plug/bulb so I could get Mrs. Claus glowing again. All's well that ends well!
Toasted nuts, dried fruit and of course, figs! That's the basis of these delicious little treats and once everything is whirled about in the food processor, making almost a paste, honey and ground Christmas cloves are added. If you're adventurous you can add Brandy or use brandy flavoring - depending on if you're serving to adults or kids. I used a bag of nuts I had in my pantry that had pecans and pepitas and walnuts, the recipe called for pecans but you can use whatever you want, it's a very adaptable and forgiving recipe! Same goes for the dried fruit...I happened to have dried cherries and Craisins on hand and some dried dates so I used them with the dried Mission Figs and they worked beautifully!
The scent of Christmas will be in the air as you roll these into little balls...about the size of a tennis ball or maybe a bit smaller. Roll the balls into sesame seeds and that's it! They are ready to be wrapped (in parchment paper so the balls can dry out/firm up a bit) and gifted to your worthy friends! Add a Christmas ribbon, a sprig of holly and a cute tag so they'll know to slice into the ball and not bite into it...although I suppose they could, but it would be ever so much nicer and civilized if they didn't!
Since I was giving this batch of Figgy Pudding Balls to friends the day I made them, I needed to attach a little tag telling them to let the ball sit on their counter to firm up a bit before they cut into it. Although it's not really necessary...if you cut into it the day it's made or the next day, it's a bit sticky, but still very delicious.
Figgy Pudding Balls - Adapted From Karon Grieve at Larder Love
3 cups pecans or mixed nuts, chopped into small pieces
3 packages (7 oz. each) dried figs, cut off hard end and discard
1 package (8 oz.) pitted dates, chopped
1 package (6 oz.) dried cherries, chopped
1 package (6 oz.) pomegranate flavored Craisins
1/2 cup honey
1 Tablespoon brandy or brandy flavoring
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1/2 cup sesame seeds
Toast nuts in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, just until aromatic and beginning to brown slightly. Remove and set aside to cool, then chop in small pieces. Working in batches, put figs, dates, cherries and Craisins into food processor and process until part paste, part small bits. (My food processor would only work when I did this in small batches, the figs and dates are pretty sticky so go slowly so you don't burn up your motor!) When all fruits are processed, stir in nuts, honey, brandy, cloves, and mix well. Form into balls, think small tennis ball/large golf ball. Spread sesame seeds onto plate, roll balls into sesame seeds to coat, then flatten slightly.
At this point Karon advised to set balls on baking sheet and cover with clean tea towel and to set aside and let dry out for a week. You can do that or you can wrap balls in parchment paper, tie with string and attach a tag letting your friends know to allow to dry for a few days. These will keep for up to 2 months in the fridge. Serve sliced with cheese and crackers. Makes 21 balls.