Blue Cheese with fig preserves and candied pecans is a fantastic appetizer for holiday entertaining! Soft blue cheese (I highly recommend Cambozola cheese) with sweet fig jam all topped with crunchy candied pecans, oh it’s just so drool worthy!
Serve it up with some crackers or toasts and you have the perfect fancy appetizer! Great for a New Year’s Eve appetizer!
Just 3 main ingredients, in this recipe. Three starring roles working together for the most impressive and delicious appetizer ever! Ok, maybe that’s a really tall order, but let me tell you why I think that!
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This past summer I went to a celebration of life party for a wonderful man, a friend, who passed away 2 years ago.
The party was a small catered event with the freshest and most amazing selection. As some friends and I were standing around nibbling on the appetizers and reminiscing about our departed friend, I had several people come up to me and tell me that I needed to recreate this appetizer and share it on Life Currents.
As the party progressed, the appetizer disappeared, but I had several reminders to make this appetizer.
So, I knew I had to take on the challenge. As a way to make several requests come true, and as a tribute to my friend, Ken. I also talked about my friend, Ken in my post on how to cook Dungeness Crab.
Spoiler alert, after I made my test run at the recipe, I knew I had nailed it! I brought it to my husband (the tasting and testing department of Life Currents), and he said tasting it brought him right back to that party, and it tasted exactly like the one they served.
Blue cheese is one of my favorite cheeses. And, I’ve been on a huge blue cheese kick this year! I order it on my pizza. It’s in my salads. I love it in appetizers.
And Cambozola is my favorite blue cheese.
It’s a mild, creamy cow’s milk cheese that has the flavor of a blue cheese with the texture of a Camembert or brie. It’s often referred to as “blue brie”, and it’s a great place to start learning about the flavors of blue cheese.
I get this Cambozola Triple Cream Soft Ripened Blue Cheese at Trader Joe’s. It’s a really nice creamy blue cheese that isn’t too harsh.
Now, the appetizer at the catered party was the whole round of blue cheese. Besides being extremely expensive or most home cooks to buy a whole round, unless you’re throwing a large party, that’s a lot of cheese to eat!
So, my recipe just has a wedge of Cambozola, which seems to be approximately 1/10 of a whole round of cheese. Most of the wedges I see at the store are .3 to .4 of a pound.
The fig preserves at the party had a really nice orange flavor in them, so I knew my fig preserves had to have orange in them.
The fig jam recipe I’ve shared with you makes a lovely lightly sweet fig jam that’s made with dried figs and fresh oranges. It’s easy to make, and rich with fig flavor from the dried figs.
Dried fig preserves
I wanted to make sure the fig jam was made with dried figs for a couple of reasons.
First, it’s December, and fresh figs are not readily available. With dried figs you can make this jam any time of year, and not just during the short fig season of June through October.
Using dried figs also cuts down on the cooking time for the preserves. Since they are already concentrated, and their water has been dried out, these take no time at all to turn into jam.
Dried figs are shelf stable, so you can keep a nice supply of them in your pantry and ready to go if you want to make more of this jam.
What type of figs should I use?
There are many varieties of figs and they can all be dried.
The most common varieties of figs that you’ll find at the store are Black Mission, Calimyrna, and Smyrna or Turkish figs.
Really, any variety of dried fig can be used here. For the ones in the pictures of the homemade jam, I used Mission Figs, which have a beautiful dark color with a nicely balanced jammy fruity slightly acidic flavor.
Can I buy a jar of fig preserves instead of making it for this recipe?
Yes, I tested this appetizer with both the homemade jam and a jar of store-bought jam.
The homemade jam was more complex and not quite as sweet. The orange gave it a really nice flavor.
And, the homemade jam was more budget friendly.
Those things being said, both the appetizers made with store bought and the homemade fig preserves were delicious!
The store-bought jam you see in the pictures is Dalmatia Fig Orange Spread, and I found it in the deli section of my grocery store. Right above the fancy cheese display. My store stocks crackers, jams, and some salami on top of the cheese display.
So, if you’re in a big hurry, maybe because of a last-minute invitation to a party, go with the store-bought fig jam.
But, if you want more flavor and some cost savings, make the homemade jam, it really is so good! Your guests will ask you for the recipe; I just know it!
For the candied pecans, I decided I wanted to make my favorite Crisp Pecans recipe (check out that post if you need any tips or tricks on that recipe).
It’s not as sugary as so many candied pecans that I see out there. And, I think that the recipe is basically fool-proof.
Yes, you can absolutely go with a store-bought candied pecan for these, just know that they will probably be much sweeter than this recipe.
Pro tips for making this blue cheese appetizer
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Zest the orange first, then juice it. It’ll make it so much easier to go in that order. I like to use a zester like this one. For the strips of orange peel on top I use a zester like this. And, I like these tools for juicing citrus.
The fig jam will need to be blended after cooking for a bit. I love how easy it is to use an immersion blender here. If you don’t have one, I highly recommend that you get one. They’re super useful. You can also blend the jam in food processor with just a few pulses.
Let the cheese sit out and come to room temperature for the best flavor. I don’t recommend letting your blue cheese sit out for longer than 4 hours.
Can I make this ahead?
Yes! This is a great make ahead appetizer! Buy the blue cheese and store it tightly wrapped in the fridge. It should remain edible for three to four weeks. There may also be a best by date on the package.
You can make the fig jam and keep in the fridge as well. It keeps, refrigerated, for up to 2 weeks or freeze for 2-3 months.
If the jam is too thick and it won’t spread easily, just add a couple tablespoons of water at a time, stirring well after each addition, until it’s the desired consistency.
The crisp pecans can be made ahead. Keep them in a ziptop bag on the counter for a week or two.
Assemble the appetizer just before serving. And place some crackers alongside of it.
How long will this keep?
Keep any leftovers in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator. It should last another week, though the fig jam might start to color the blue cheese a bit. That won’t affect the flavor though.
Be sure to always give your blue cheese the sniff test before eating any leftovers. If it smells “off” ~ when in doubt, throw it out.
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Blue Cheese with fig preserves and candied pecans Recipe
Blue Cheese with fig preserves and candied pecans
- Immersion Blender
- 12 ounces dried figs stems removed
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups water
- zest of 1 orange
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 cups water
- 1 pound pecans
Assemble the appetizer:
- Cambozola cheese
Make fig jam:
- Chop each fig into quarters, or if it’s very large, 6 pieces.
- Combine chopped figs, sugar, water, orange zest, and orange juice in a large saucepan, and cook over medium-high heat.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a steady, simmer, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Using an immersion blender or a food processor, blend the jam until any large pieces are gone but the jam still has a bit of texture.
- Continue to cook the jam for another 5-10 minutes, or until it has thickened, keep in mind that the jam will continue to thicken as it cools.
- Refrigerate jam for up to 2 weeks or freeze for 2-3 months.
Make candied pecans:
- In a large heavy saucepan over high heat, bring the sugar, salt, and water to a boil.
- Add in the pecans.
- Return to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, uncovered for 15 minutes. Drain the pecans well, and spread in a single layer on a parchment paper or Silpat lined baking sheet and let dry for about 1 hour, tossing occasionally.
- Preheat the oven to 300° F. Place the baking sheet with the pecans in the oven, and roast stirring occasionally, until crisp and golden brown, about 45 minutes. Let cool completely.
- Store candied pecans in a tightly covered container at room temperature for about a week.
Assemble the appetizer:
- Unwrap the blue cheese and place it on a serving platter. Top the cheese with a good amount of the fig jam. Sprinkle the top with candied pecans. There will be more fig preserves and more candied pecans than you will need for one wedge of cheese.
- Garnish with orange zest if desired. Also, you can drizzle honey over the top if you want.
- Serve with crackers or toasts for a wonderful fancy appetizer.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations, and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary based on brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes, and more.