Tipsy (or not) Figgy Cake with Salted Ginger Quinoa Wafers by Stephanie von Hirschberg

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Tipsy (or not) Figgy Cake with Salted Ginger Quinoa Wafers
Serves 8-10

Ingredients

FOR THE FIG CONFIT
1 pound dried Mission figs, coarsely chopped
7 cups water
2 tablespoons granulated or confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ lb fresh ginger root
2 cups sugar
1 ½ cup water

FOR THE CAKE
½ pound dried Mission figs, coarsely chopped
1 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 cup sugar
8 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut up
2 eggs
2 cups All Purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
½-1 cup brandy (optional)

FOR THE GINGER QUINOA WAFERS
About ¼ cup washed and rinsed (if necessary) Traditional Quinoa (pale) grains
6 ounces (2 3-ounce packets) Gin-Gin Hard Candy
About ½ -1 teaspoons salt
About 2 teaspoons ground ginger

FOR THE CREAM TOPPING
14-16 ounces whole milk Greek yogurt
¾ cup heavy cream
3-5 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar, to taste
1-2 teaspoons lemon juice, to taste
pinch of salt

DIRECTIONS: MAKE THE FIG CONFIT FIRST
1.Combine the chopped figs and water in a pot and boil, uncovered for about 1 hour.
2.Peel and slice the ginger root into coins, about 1/8 inch wide.
3.Combine the ginger coins, water and sugar in a pot and boil, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Then cover and let steep for about 1 hour.
4.Remove the ginger coins from the syrup (they can be used in another dish. Add the ginger syrup to the fig mixture. Add the vanilla. Heat the mixture until it starts to steam but doesn’t boil.
5.Pour the warm mixture into a food processor, add the butter, and blend until smooth. Return the mixture to the pot and set aside. You will need to reheat it slightly later on, for serving (this step is optional).

MAKE THE CAKE
1.Preheat oven to 350F and grease a 9X13 inch metal pan.
2.Combine ½ the chopped figs, boiling water, and bicarbonate of soda in a bowl.
3.Cream the sugar and butter. Then add well-beaten eggs.
4.In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Then slowly combine them into the creamed mixture. The mixture will be dense and heavy.
5.Add soaked and dry chopped figs and the apple sauce. If using an electric mixture, remove the attachment.
6.Add chopped walnuts by hand.
7.Spread the mixture into the pan and bake for 30 minutes until the top is golden brown, the sides pull away from the pan and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out dry.

MEANWHILE: MAKE THE GINGER QUINOA WAFERS
1.Place a sheet of parchment paper in a shallow baking pan. Spread the quinoa grains (if they were rinsed, dry them first on a dish towel) on the parchment and toast for about 3 minutes until golden, checking them every few seconds to make sure they don’t burn. You can use a toaster oven set at 375 F or your oven broiler, set on low, with the grains set directly under the heat, about 4 inches below.) The grains will start to crackle and pop as they toast.
2.Set the toasted grains, salt container and container of ground ginger out where you can quickly grab them.
3.Melt the Gin-Gin candy, working in two batches: Spread the candy from one of the Gin-Gin packets (18 pieces of candy) on parchment paper in a shallow pan about ½ to 1 inch apart so that some of the candy will melt together. Pop the candies under the heat (in 375F toaster oven or low broiler, 4 inches away, as above) and melt until they bubble, spread out and turn slightly golden. This will happen over 1-2 minutes. Keep an eye on them!
4. Remove pan from the oven and while the candy is still bubbling, quickly, and liberally, sprinkle it with ginger powder, salt and most of the toasted quinoa (reserve about 1 teaspoon quinoa for decorating the cake). Set aside to cool. Repeat the process with the second packet of Gin-Gins.

MAKE THE CREAM TOPPING:
1.With a large spoon, combine the Greek yogurt, heavy cream (unwhipped), confectioner’s sugar, lemon juice and salt.

ASSEMBLY:
1.As soon as the cake is done, using a chopstick or similar implement, poke 20-30 holes into the cake. If you want to use the brandy, spread it over the warm cake now. If not, take about ½ cup of the room-temperature fig confit and spread it over the top while the cake is still warm. Sprinkle the cake with the reserved toasted quinoa. Crack the cooled wafers into pieces and use about half to decorate the cake. Reserve the remainder for decorating individual servings.

TO SERVE:
Heat the fig confit (optional). Drizzle generously over and around each piece of cake, insert a few wafer shards into each serving, and add a dollop of the cream.

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