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Top Pick Of The Week

October 23, 2007
Updated October 2010

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Cute pumpkin bonbons are actually chocolate-wrapped calabacita figs. Photo courtesy John & Kira’s.

WHAT IT IS: Ganache-stuffed calabacita figs, dipped in Valrhona chocolate.
WHY IT’S DIFFERENT: Miniature figs from Spain are filled with a heavenly whiskey-clove ganache.
WHY WE LOVE IT: A simply spectacular confection, available only in the fall when the figs are harvested.
WHERE TO BUY IT: JohnAndKiras.com.
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The Great Pumpkin:
John & Kira’s Chocolate Fig Confections

CAPSULE REPORT: Halloween is a week away. While there may be some NIBBLE readers who hanker for the miniature candy bars of youth, we have a much better recommendation. One of the delights we look forward to each fall is a box of “drunken figs” from John & Kira’s, one of our favorite artisan chocolatiers.

Using thin-skinned, sweet calabacita figs from Spain, the Drunken Figs shown are filled with a delectable whiskey clove ganache, then dipped in 64% cacao Valrhona chocolate.

We flip for these little figgies. Putting one at each place setting at Halloween or Thanksgiving, serving them with after-dinner coffee or bringing a box to your host(ess) is certain to delight. And don’t forget to send a box to that bewitching someone special. Read the full review below.

  • Read reviews of more of our favorite gourmet chocolate in THE NIBBLE online magazine.
  • See the Table of Contents of the October issue of THE NIBBLE, plus the prior issues archive and our most popular articles.
  • All of the Top Pick Of The Week newsletters are permanently archived on TheNibble.com, in chronological order and by product category.
THE NIBBLE does not sell the foods we review
or receive fees from manufacturers for recommending them.

Our recommendations are based purely on our opinion, after tasting thousands of products each year, that they represent the best in their respective categories.

 

More Great Chocolate

The Essence Of Chocolate Chocolate Obsession Chocolate and Vanilla
Essence of Chocolate: Recipes for Baking and Cooking with Fine Chocolate, by John Scharffenberger and Robert Steinberg. America’s preeminent maker of gourmet baking chocolate launches its first cookbook, with more than 100 recipes for classics as well as Chocolate Chunk Challah, a homemade version of Oreos and savory dishes made with chocolate like Tortilla Soup and Chile-Marinated Flank Steak. Click here for more information. Chocolate Obsession: Confections and Treats to Create and Savor, by Michael Recchiuti and Fran Gage. The top chocolatier makes it possible for amateurs to achieve his artistry in dipped chocolates, truffles and molded chocolates. With his recipes for Earl Grey tea, burnt caramel and tarragon with grapefruit ganaches, plus some delicious baked goods (Recchiuti is also a pâtissier), this book provides many hours of happiness. Click here for more information. Chocolate and Vanilla, by Gale Gand. James Beard Award-winner Gand, host of the Food Network’s Sweet Dreams and co-owner and Executive Pastry Chef at Chicago’s Tru, dazzles as usual. Recipes are both delicious and visually arresting. Those who are chocoholics may discover their inner vanilla-holic in this book, which gives equal attention to the spice that Gand considers even sexier than chocolate. Click here for more information.

The Great Pumpkin: John & Kira’s Drunken Chocolate Figs

INDEX OF REVIEW

This is Page 1 of a two-page review. Click on the black links to visit other pages.

MORE TO DISCOVER

Overview: Calabacita Figs

We adore the fruit-filled bonbons from John & Kira’s. They were a Top Pick Of The Week last year. John Doyle and Kira Baker-Doyle are perfectionists, seeking the finest seasonal fruits, herbs and nuts from small, dedicated family farmers. They then blend the fresh ingredients into chocolate ganache and enrobe the dark, milk and white chocolate ganaches—bergamot, coffee whiskey, ginger, honey lavender, lemongrass, mint, pistachio, star anise, strawberry and raspberry—with semisweet Valrhona chocolate (64% cacao—read our full review of these delightful chocolates).

Sometimes, John and Kira get to fill fruit with ganache, rather than the other way around. Specifically, they use calabacita figs from Ecoficus, an organically-farmed, family-run enterprise in the remote valleys of the Extremadura region of Spain (highlighted on the map at the right). These particular figs are more formally known as the Calabacita de Álmoharin, after the village in which they are grown. The cultivar was brought from eastern Asia more than 600 years ago by Arabs or Sephardic Jews, both of whom settled in the area. (NOTE: Calabacita is also a word used in Latin America for zucchini.)
  Extremadura, Spain
Map of Iberia, highlighting the Extremadura region of Spain, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Not well-known in the U.S., except by a few gourmets who have discovered imports available in specialty shops, the calabacita fig is one of the smaller fig varieties, honey-colored with a fine texture and small seeds. Noted for its beautiful flavor, extremely thin, soft skin and sweet, almost candy-like taste, these specialty Spanish figs have long inspired confectioners to dip them in chocolate (called bombóns de higo, fig bonbons). If you’ve had the Rabitos chocolate-covered figs from Spain, they’re very good, but are a large-production product that can’t hold a candle to John & Kira’s artisan confections.

John and Kira are so excited about their calabacitas, they actually receive photos of the precious fruits as they mature throughout the summer on the Los Llanillos farm. The photo at the left was taken in early August.  Smile!

The first batch of dried figs arrived at John & Kira’s in Philadelphia in September. They were promptly dipped in dark chocolate, to be enjoyed for a few months until pumpkin season arrived, and their white-chocolate dipped siblings joined them in production. While they look a somewhat orange on the vine, it takes a bit of chocolatier magic to turn them into their full pumpkin glory.

  Calabacita Figs
Calabacita figs.

 

Continue To Page 2: The Fig Bonbons

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