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Dulce de higos or fig preserves in syrup

This is my recipe for Ecuadorian dulce de higos, also known as higos pasados, which are fig preserves cooked in spiced syrup of panela/piloncillo or brown cane sugar and spices.

Figs preserved in spiced panela or piloncillo syrup

En español

These caramelized figs are a very typical dessert in Ecuadorian households. This type of sweet fruit preserve is one of those desserts that you could easily be served both in the home of humble farmer – who lives in a house with no electricity – ;  or at a fancy dinner of a wealthy businessperson in one of main cities.

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Spiced fig preserves in panela syrup with queso fresco

Personally I would choose the figs served in a humble home o from a small local vendor, from my experience those are usually the best. These caramelized figs are usually served with a slice of fresh cheese, queso fresco or quesillo, to help balance the sweetness. 

Anyone familiar with traditional South American desserts knows that we prefer to keep them simple, especially since the main meal tends to be very filling. Desserts were not necessarily an expected component at the end of each meal and when we did have dessert it always felt like a special event.

A typical dessert in Ecuador might be a perfectly ripe fruit, such as a slice of papaya with a drizzle of lime juice or a piece of babaco with a little bit of honey, or maybe a refreshing helado de paila, a fluffy bizcochuelo, a crunchy cocada or a sweet fig preserve served with a piece a quesillo or queso.

It is also frequent to eat sweets in larger quantity with afternoon coffee rather than for dessert, after a large meal sometimes you want just a little something sweet that adds that finishing touch and doesn’t leave you feeling like you had too much.

Dulce de higos or figs in syrup

The fig preserves are made through a 3 day process: first they soaked in water for a day, next they are boiled in water, then left to soak another day, then drain and finally boiled in the syrup made with the panela and spices. It is very important to let the figs soak enough, this helps keep them tender.

I’ve tried to take shortcuts before and ended up with very dry and rubbery figs. The spices are optional and the figs taste just as good without them, so it’s just a matter of preference, I personally love adding the spices, but since my husband had this annoying dislike for cinnamon I sometimes make them without any spices.

Spiced fig preserves

These figs are very sweet, you can reduce the amount of panela if you would like them to be a little bit less sweet; also because they are so sweet they are much better eaten with cheese or even with bread than alone.

Dulce de higos are usually served with generous slice of fresh cheese called quesillo, you can use fresh mozzarella instead of quesillo, some other good options include queso fresco, farmer’s cheese or curds; you can choose your favorite cheese or also try these fig preserves with a few different types of cheese.

Figs preserved in spiced panela or piloncillo syrup

Dulce de higos or fig preserves in syrup

Dulce de higos or fig preserves in spiced syrup are made by cooking ripe figs in a syrup of panela/piloncillo or brown cane sugar and spices.
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Course: Dessert, Sweets
Cuisine: Ecuadorian, Latin American
Keyword: Caramelized figs, Dulce de higos, Figs, Panela, Piloncillo, Preserves
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Soaking time: 2 days
Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 20 figs


  • 20 fresh ripe but firm figs washed
  • Pinch of baking soda
  • 1 ¾ lb panela or hard brown cane sugar
  • Cinnamon sticks cloves and other spices – optional
  • Water

To serve:

  • Slices of quesillo cheese or queso fresco


  • Make a crosswise cut on the thin side of each fig.
  • Place the figs in a bowl, cover them with water and let them soak for 24 hours.
  • Rinse the figs, place them in a saucepan, and cover them with water, about 8 cups.
  • Add the baking soda and bring the water to a boil over medium heat, cook for about 15-20 minutes or until soft.
  • Remove from the heat and let the figs soak in the water they cooked in for another 24 hours.
  • Drain all the water from figs and gently squeeze each fig to remove as much water as possible.
  • Place the panela or hard brown cane sugar and the spices in a large saucepan, cover with about 6 cups of water and cook on low heat until the panela is completely dissolved.
  • Add the figs and simmer until the panela syrup begins to thicken, at least a couple of hours, stir occasionally.
  • Serve either warm or cold with a slice of quesillo, fresh mozzarella, queso fresco, farmer’s cheese or the cheese of your preference.
Dulce de higos or fig preserves in syrup

Step by step preparation photos for Ecuadorian dulce de higos or fig preserves in syrup

Higos pasados or figs in panela syrup
Dulce de higos con queso

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  1. Dear Laylita,

    Your are wonderful..supreme. I live in Bali and have some lovely flower shops here, we are opening a small wine bar in the shop and I came across your site while looking for ideas for empanadas. We have a limited kitchen and thought those could be great as a snack with the wine………..I was wondering about those lovely figs in syrup…….we can’t get fresh figs here..can dried turkish figs work at all….we have the most wonderful dark palm sugar here which looks just like your sugar cane cones……..but dried figs….let me know what you think.

    My best!

  2. We recently rented the home we are living in and suddenly became blessed with an overabundance of figs. I had never canned before in my life. I have canned now 5 quarts and the figs keep on coming. Our new neighbor is from Equador and she took some green figs from the tree ( they are black mission type) and made what appears to be this recipe and they were amazing! Thank you for this recipe, I just hopes it works as well for me.

  3. Thanks for posting this recipe. I had tried to make this before, without success.This time around everyone who tried the figs loved them. I did add a little vanilla and rum flavor, to experiment. It came out exquisite.


  4. I have been secretly stalking your website on and off for several months. I spent a semester in Cuenca with a host mother who was an amazing cook. I had all but forgotten about dulce de higos until I saw it on the kitchn.com. I have also been obsesssed with pan de yuca and will some day try to recreate both of these. Thanks also for having the directions, as my host mother was very vague with her instructions.
    Thank you!

  5. A friend of mine gave me some fresh figs from her mother’s backyard and I tried this recipe. All I have to say is UMM UMM good!!! Even my 12 year old nephew loved it. Thank you.

  6. OMG! I wish I’d read this post 60 minutes ago. I had a box of figs I wanted to use and although I made a wonderful compote with other fruits, your photos and the recipe look scrumptious! I might be back at the store tomorrow for another box of figs! :)

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