Chocolate-Dipped Almond-Stuffed Figs/Higos Rellenos de Almendras en Chocolate

Guest recipe by Anya von Bremzen
Author of The New Spanish Table

3/4 cup brandy
16 soft plump dried Calimyrna figs
16 lightly toasted blanched almonds, preferably marcona
10 ounces best-quality bittersweet chocolate (at least 70 percent cacao), finely chopped or coarsely ground in a food processor
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, chopped

1. Place the brandy in a small microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high power until very hot, 1 minute. Place the figs in a bowl that will hold them snugly. Pour the hot brandy over the figs and let soak for about 30 minutes, stirring several times. Drain the figs thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels. (If you'd like, the brandy can be reused in baking or to plump dried fruit.)

2. Using the tip of a small, sharp knife, make a deep incision in the bottom of a fig and push an almond inside. Repeat with the remaining figs and almonds. (Calimyrna dried figs often come tightly pressed together in round packages. If this is the case, once the figs are stuffed, pat and squeeze them lightly between your fingers to restore their round shape.)

3. Place the chocolate in a small stainless-steel mixing bowl set over a pot of simmering water or in the top of a small double boiler (over simmering water) over low heat and stir until it melts completely, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the butter and stir until the chocolate mixture is glossy, then remove from the heat. The melted chocolate mixture needs to be at least 1 1/2 inches deep to cover the figs. If the level in the mixing bowl or double boiler is too shallow, scrape about half of it into a 1-cup measure, replenishing it as needed.

4. Line a small baking sheet or a large plate with aluminum foil or use a Silpat pan liner, if you have one. Holding a fig by the stem, dip it in the chocolate mixture, turning to coat it completely and letting the excess drip off. If the stem is not long enough to hold, you can skewer the fig on a toothpick. Place the chocolate-dipped fig on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining figs.

5. Refrigerate the figs until the chocolate is completely set, about 2 hours. After an hour, use a thin spatula or knife to gently separate the figs from the aluminum foil or pan liner so they don't stick. Makes 16 figs.