Chocolate & Cognac Fig Cake with Chocolate Glaze

Chocolate & Cognac Fig Cake with Chocolate Glaze

Figs are a lovely early autumn treat, and here they’re featured in a luscious dark chocolate cake.  This decadent cake is moist and rich and for true chocolate lovers!  It combines the richness of dark chocolate, the warmth of cognac and the natural sweetness of figs…soooo good!  

This delicious cake can be made any time of the year as it uses dried figs, but it’s especially fun this time of year, when the leaves are beginning to change and the first scents of fall are upon us.  Chocolate & cognac fig cake is a beautiful cake and perfect for special occasions, or when you need a little chocolate indulgence in your life (always!).  It’s sure to impress! 

The origin of this recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks, Baking From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan.  Dorie makes this with prunes, but they have never been one of my favorite ingredients so I opted for figs over prunes.  I love the chewy-seedy texture of figs and their nutty, not-too-sweet flavor.  They go beautifully with the dark chocolate and cognac in this adaptation of Dorie’s recipe.  

Cognac, Armanac, Oh my! What is the difference between Cognac, Brandy & Armanac?

Cognac is a type of French brandy distilled from wine.  Cognac earns its designation in a specific part of France, much like that of champagne. To be considered a cognac, the brandy must be twice distilled in copper barrels, aged at least two years, and be produced in any of the French designated growing regions.  Similarly, armagnac is a brandy one of four certified French regions but it’s only distilled once.  It’s known for its flavor, combining notes of dried fruit, chocolate and caramel.  Armagnac is the oldest brandy to be distilled, but is lesser known as it’s produced in smaller quantities than cognac. 

Tips for making the best chocolate fig cake

Use the right pan! This fig cake recipe calls for an 8-inch pan, either a regular cake pan or a springform pan.  If you only have a 9-inch pan you’ll need to reduce the baking time. 

Perfectly whipped egg whites – Egg whites provide the lift in this cake recipe as there are no chemical leaveners like baking soda or baking powder, so make sure to fold the egg whites in when incorporating them to keep the cake batter light and airy.  

No nut butter – Don’t over-process your pecans or walnuts when grinding them in a food processor.  You don’t want to turn them into nut butter! 

Just right baking time – Check the cake at 28 minutes exactly and remove it from the oven when the edges are beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan.  A toothpick inserted into the center should come away with steaks, not completely clean.  If the toothpick or skewer is still really wet, you can bake it for another 3-5 minutes. 

chocolate cognac fig cake

Ingredients You’ll Need for the chocolate fig cake:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Pecans (or walnuts) – The nuts add flavor but you won’t really detect them because they’re ground in this recipe.  Bob’s red mill makes many nut flour varieties, which will also work here if you don’t want to process the nuts at home.
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Water – Some for the fig mixture and some for the chocolate/butter portion of the cake batter
  • Unsalted butter – Some for the cake, some for the glaze and a little more to grease the cake pan
  • Large eggs – The whites will be whipped and the yolks incorporated with the sugar.  These will add volume to the cake!
  • Cognac – Enhances the chocolate flavor of the cake and is delicious with the dried figs!  Brandy, Scotch whisky or Armagnac are all great options.
  • Dried figs – Remove the stems and chop into small pieces.
  • Bittersweet chocolate (coarsely chopped) – 7 ounces for the cake and an additional 3 for the glaze! 
  • Confectioners’ sugar – Also known as powdered sugar – A little will be added to the chocolate glaze.
ingredients for chocolate and cognac fig cake
ingredients for chocolate glaze

How to make Chocolate & Cognac Fig Cake with Chocolate Glaze

1. Get ready

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 375°F (175°C). Butter the bottom and sides of an 8-inch round cake pan or springform pan.  Line bottom of the pan with a round of parchment paper and then butter the bottom one more time.  Dust the bottom of the pan with flour and shake out the excess, being sure to coat the sides as well.  Place the prepared pan on a baking sheet and set aside while you make the cake batter.

2. Make the cake batter

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and ground pecans (or walnuts).  

Heat the 1/4 cup of water over medium heat and cook the finely chopped dried figs until the water has almost been incorporated into a jammy mixture, being careful not to burn the fruit.  Remove the pan from the heat and pour in the cognac.  Stand back and light the cognac with a flame (this will burn off the alcohol content in the cognac).  Once the flame dies out, transfer the fig/cognac/water “jam” to bowl to let cool (this jam can be made up to 1 day ahead – just keep it covered).  

In a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water, melt butter and chopped chocolate with the remaining 3 tablespoons of water (or you can do this step in the microwave).  Remove from heat as soon as they’re melted and stir to combine.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and the sugar until thick and lightened in color for about 2 minutes.  Using a rubber spatula, stir in the chocolate/butter mixture into the egg mixture, then add the flour mixture and, finally, the fig/cognac “jam”.

fig mixture
whip egg yolks and sugar

Using another large bowl, or the bowl of an electric mixer or stand mixer, whisk the egg whites until shiny and firm, forming glossy peaks.  Stir about 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, and then gently fold in the remaining egg whites, being careful not to deflate the batter.  Pour batter into the prepared pan and smooth with the rubber spatula.

stir in flour, salt and nut mixture
fold in egg whites
pour cake batter into prepared pan

3. Bake the cake

Bake the cake for 28-33 minutes in the preheated oven, or until puffed in the center and beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan.  A thin knife of a skewer inserted into the center of the cake should come out streaky.  Transfer the cake to a cooling rack to cool for about 10 minutes.  Then, carefully run a knife around the sides of the cake pan (or remove the side if using a springform pan), invert, pull off the paper and let it cool right side up until it’s room temperature.  Let the cake cool completely before you glaze it.

remove baked fig and chocolate and cognac cake from oven

4. Make the chocolate glaze

Melt the chopped dark chocolate and the butter in a heatproof bowl over a pot of gently simmering water or microwave in 30 second intervals until just melted. Use a whisk to combine and continue whisking until smooth and glossy, adding the powdered sugar a little at a time while you whisk. 

5. Glaze and serve the cake 

If the cake has a dome in the center, use a long serrated knife and a gently sawing motion to even out the top. Place a piece of parchment paper or wax paper underneath the wire rack to catch the drips from the glaze. Using a large spoon and an offset spatula or knife, pour and smooth the glaze over the top of the cake, working your way from the center out and spreading the glaze to the outside of the cake, allowing some to drizzle down the sides. Let the glaze set at room temperature before serving.  Or, if you want to speed up the process, you can place the cake in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes before slicing and serving. 

spread chocolate glaze onto chocolate fig cake
spread chocolate glaze onto chocolate fig cake
spread chocolate glaze onto chocolate fig cake

How to Serve Serve Chocolate & Cognac Fig Cake with Chocolate Glaze

Slice into small pieces (it’s a rich one!) and serve alongside a little fresh whipped cream and fresh fruit, if you like.  Some chopped fresh figs would make a real statement!  Serve it for dessert or an indulgent afternoon snack (treat!) with some tea.  Soooo delicious! 

​How to Store the Cake

This cake gets better after a day, or even two, so feel free to make this one ahead!  The texture of the figs and the chocolate cake just gets better, and the chocolate, fig and cognac flavors intensify.  If you have extra cake, you can store at room temperature (or in the refrigerator, if you like cold cake) for up to 5 days.  Just make sure to cover it well.

Mixing things up:

Chocolate Cognac Almond Cake – Substitute almond flour for the ground pecans and add 3/4 teaspoon of almond extract to the chocolate/butter/egg mixture in the cake batter.

Chocolate-Orange & Cognac Fig Cake – Add 1 tablespoon of orange zest and substitute 3 T of freshly squeezed orange juice for the water in the butter/chocolate step. 

chocolate and cognac fig cake on a cake stand

More Chocolate Recipes to Love

chocolate & cognac fig cake
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Chocolate & Cognac Fig Cake with Chocolate Glaze

This decadent cake is moist and rich and for true chocolate lovers!  It combines the richness of dark chocolate, the warmth of cognac and the natural sweetness of figs.
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time28 minutes
Total Time58 minutes
Course: Dessert
Keyword: chocoalte fig cake, chocolate cognac cake, chocolate cognac fig cake, fig cake
Servings: 12

Ingredients

FOR THE CAKE

  • 2/3 cup finely ground pecans (or walnuts)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose four
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 8 dried figs, chopped into small pieces 6 ounces
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup Cognac, Armagnac, brandy or Scotch whisky
  • 7 ounces bittersweet chocolate chopped
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 large eggs separated
  • 2/3 cup sugar

FOR THE GLAZE

  • 3 ounces dark chocolate coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

Instructions

  • GET READY
    Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 375°F (175°C). Butter the bottom and sides of an 8-inch round cake pan or springform pan.  Line bottom of the pan with a round of parchment paper and then butter the bottom one more time.  Dust the bottom of the pan with flour and shake out the excess, being sure to coat the sides as well.  Place the prepared pan on a baking sheet and set aside while you make the cake batter.
  • MAKE THE CAKE BATTER
    In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and ground pecans (or walnuts).  
    Heat the 1/4 cup of water over medium heat and cook the finely chopped dried figs until the water has almost been incorporated into a jammy mixture, being careful not to burn the fruit.  Remove the pan from the heat and pour in the cognac.  Stand back and light the cognac with a flame (this will burn off the alcohol content in the cognac).  Once the flame dies out, transfer the fig/cognac/water “jam” to bowl to let cool (this jam can be made up to 1 day ahead – just keep it covered).  
    In a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water, melt butter and chopped chocolate with the remaining 3 tablespoons of water (or you can do this step in the microwave).  Remove from heat as soon as they’re melted and stir to combine.  Set aside.
    In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and the sugar until thick and lightened in color for about 2 minutes.  Using a rubber spatula, stir in the chocolate/butter mixture into the egg mixture, then add the flour mixture and, finally, the fig/cognac “jam”.
    Using another large bowl, or the bowl of an electric mixer or stand mixer, whisk the egg whites until shiny and firm, forming glossy peaks.  Stir about 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, and then gently fold in the remaining egg whites, being careful not to deflate the batter.  Pour batter into the prepared pan and smooth with the rubber spatula.
  • BAKE THE CAKE
    Bake the cake for 28-33 minutes in the preheated oven, or until puffed in the center and beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan.  A thin knife of a skewer inserted into the center of the cake should come out streaky.  Transfer the cake to a cooling rack to cool for about 10 minutes.  Then, carefully run a knife around the sides of the cake pan (or remove the side if using a springform pan), invert, pull off the paper and let it cool right side up until it’s room temperature.  Let the cake cool completely before you glaze it.
  • MAKE THE CHOCOLATE GLAZE
    Melt the chopped dark chocolate and the butter in a heatproof bowl over a pot of gently simmering water or microwave in 30 second intervals until just melted. Use a whisk to combine and continue whisking until smooth and glossy, adding the powdered sugar a little at a time while you whisk. 
  • GLAZE AND SERVE THE CAKE 
    if the cake has a dome in the center, use a long serrated knife and a gently sawing motion to even out the top. Place a piece of parchment paper or wax paper underneath the wire rack to catch the drips from the glaze. Using a large spoon and an offset spatula or knife, pour and smooth the glaze over the top of the cake, working your way from the center out and working the glaze to the outside of the cake, allowing some of the glaze to drizzle down the sides. Let the glaze set at room temperature before serving.  Or, if you want to speed up the process, you can place the cake in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes before slicing and serving.

Notes

Recipe based on Dorie Greenspan’s “Chocolate Armagnac Cake – The Cake That Got Me Fired” from Baking From My Home To Yours



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