Fig Cakes with Sweet Ricotta

  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 1 hr 15 min (includes cooling time)
  • Active: 40 min
  • Yield: 18 servings
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2 sticks (1 cups) unsalted butter

3 large eggs plus 2 yolks 

14 ounces granulated sugar 

13 ounces all-purpose flour 

1/4 ounce baking powder 

3/4 cup sour cream 

1/4 cup milk 

1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped from the pods 

Nonstick cooking spray 

9 fresh figs, cut into 1/3-inch rounds, plus additional quartered for garnish, optional 

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar 

Sweet Ricotta:

1 cup fresh ricotta

1 1/2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar, plus more for garnish 

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 

Pinch fine salt 


Special equipment:
a piping bag; eighteen 2 3/4-by-1 1/4-by-1 1/4-inch mini rectangular cake molds
  1. For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place the butter into a pot and cook, stirring, until it browns. Remove from the heat and let cool, but not to the point that it solidifies, about 5 minutes.
  3. Whip the eggs and egg yolks together with the granulated sugar until thick and fluffy. Sift the flour and baking powder together in a bowl, then fold into the whipped egg mixture. Add the butter and mix until incorporated. Add the sour cream, milk and vanilla seeds and mix until it comes together. Transfer to a piping bag.
  4. Spray eighteen 2 3/4-by-1 1/4-by-1 1/4-inch mini rectangular cake molds with cooking spray. Arrange the sliced figs in the molds (overlapping is okay). Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon brown sugar on top of each. Fill the molds with the cake batter about three-quarters of the way full. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the edges comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before removing from the molds.
  5. For the sweet ricotta: Meanwhile, put the ricotta in a large fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl and let drain for 30 minutes. Discard the liquid. Stir in the confectioners' sugar, vanilla and salt until smooth. Reserve until ready to serve.
  6. Serve the cakes with a dusting of confectioners' sugar and dollops of sweet ricotta. Garnish with quartered figs if using. 

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