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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. While visiting your site I decided to return to my favorite fig recipe. In Colombia my mother used to make stuffed figs with arequipé or dulce de leche, which I continue to make every Christmas. Although I’m not able to get imported preserved figs from Colombia any more since the store owner who used to get them for me is no longer in business, this recipe has served me well. I must admit that it took me several tries to get the result as seen in the final picture above. My unsuccessful attempts weren’t due to the recipe but the quality and ripeness of the figs. My initial attempt using too ripe of a fig ended as fig sauce rather than fig preserves. The important key words in your recipe are “fresh ripe but firm figs”, which resulted in a successful outcome.

  2. I just made some with my walnut/big olive size green figs.

    I cut the stem and washed them in cold water until the white sap was gone.
    Poked with a fork each one, then boiled for hours in a mixture of water and sugar with a pinch of salt.
    When tender and sweet I added lemon zest and cloves.
    Transferred to a jar and let it cool.
    Seal it. Will save in the fridge, but I don’t think it will last long enough.

    Someone told me it was good with plain yogurt and boy it is amazing!

  3. This recipe is very close to the way I heard my mom makes it back in Ecuador. It is really good. Thank you! I just have a couple of suggestions from a person (me) who is not a great cook, but wants to give it a try.

    It would be nice if the recipe gave the equivalent of a pound of raspadura in mesuring cups too. I know weight is more accurate, but most people don’t own a scale. Also it would be nice if the recipe said approximately the time of cooking (15minutes, one hour?) and temperature on the stove (cook in medium heat or simmer) until the the sugar turns into syrup

    I hope I made sense. Thank you for writing down the Ecuadorian recipes. I am sure this is not an easy task. My figs are ready now. They taste great!

  4. Muchisimas gracias por todas las recetas! I studied abroad in Ecuador and my host mom made these all the time! Now I can make them myself here in the US :)

  5. I better leave your site now, as it’s making me hungry again even after just getting done with my dinner. Maybe I can have a little of that yummy custard my sis-in-law made after New Year. If anyone knows an Ecuadorian restaurant where I can try one or two of the recipes heres, I’ll greatly appreciate. Thanks so much!

  6. My husband and I first tried these 8 years ago when we bought them from an old lady in Ecuador. We didn’t think we would ever eat them again (we have searched and searched to find any that tasted that good) but I’ve just finished making them from your recipe and they taste exactly as they did then. Thank you so much! My husband is going to love them.

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