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Higos con Queso (Figs with Cheese) Recipe: Ecuadorian Dessert

A few months ago I discovered a new dessert in Cuenca: Higos con queso. Despite having lived here for four years, I tried this sweet dessert for the first time just a few months ago. Since then, I’ve had it many times. The recipe is pretty simple.

In this post, you’ll learn about higos in Ecuador – how to prepare them at home, what to expect at a restaurant and empanadas with figs and cheese.


Higos con Queso Recipe

  • Preserved figs (higos) in a sugar sauce
  • Locally made cheese (often unsalted)

The figs are rich and sweet. The cheese makes a strong contrast. The figs don’t go to mush like some preserved fruit and the seeds bring back memories of fig newtons…

Where to Find Figs With Cheese

Because it is a traditional dessert, you can find it at many restaurants in Ecuador – especially the ones that cater to visitors. We’ve had it at Ingapirca, Paute, and Hacienda Uzhupud.

These photos were taken at Hacienda Uzhupud near Paute.

Have you had higos con queso? What did you think?


How to Have Figs at Home: Dulce de Higos

Over the past few months, we’ve been talking about figs in Ecuador.

There are higos con queso (figs with cheese), fig empanadas and even fig chocolate bars.

A few months ago we found preserved figs at Supermaxi. They come in a small 550g container and are amazing.
I didn’t realize that they were mass-produced. I naively thought that each restaurant was making its own.

Preserved and Spiced Figs

The figs shown in the photo are preserved in panela (unrefined cane sugar) and canela (cinnamon). The panela has a great flavor of its own and the cinnamon adds a nice spice.


How We Prepare Figs At Home

Here’s how we enjoy figs at home.

We often eat preserved figs with a bowl of fruit or on the side with some pancakes.

But my favorite way is to serve a couple of figs with a dollop of unsweetened, homemade yogurt. The sweet fig and tart yogurt offer great contrast. It is very similar to figs and cheese – but with a tart twist.

Dena has been making yogurt at home for many years. We use the Yogourmet Electric Yogurt Maker. By letting it work for a full 24 hours it actually makes the yogurt completely lactose-free.

We never saw figs like this in Canada. Well, not in whole form. We grew up on Fig Newtons – but that was the extent of my fig consumption. Here in Ecuador, we have lots of options for fresh and preserved figs.

Do you like figs? What’s your favorite way to prepare them?

Fig and Cheese Empanadas in Cuenca

Cheese empanadas are the most common kind in Ecuador.

But you can get empanadas made with plantain, morocho or wheat. They can be stuffed with soft cheese, meat or fruit. They are almost always sprinkled with a crusting of white sugar.

A few months ago I discovered a treasure at a bakery on Don Bosco, Cuenca.

Although Appetito Bakery is one of the larger bakeries in the city, I didn’t expect to find anything unique. I love Cuenca’s bakeries, but most of them don’t stray very far from the basics.

Learn more about sweets in Ecuador in our post about 16 Ecuador desserts.

Fig & Cheese Empanadas in Cuenca

empanada-cuenca-ecuadorI was pretty excited to see something different in this bakery.

Since moving to Ecuador I’ve come to love figs. The traditional higos con queso is an amazing dessert. And there are even fig chocolate bars.

As you can see in the picture with Dena, the fig empanada is about half bread and the other half is stuffed with a preserved fig and a piece of cheese. I’m not sure how this sounds to you – but it is amazing.

The fig is preserved in sugar and cinnamon. The contrast of the sweet fig against the cheese is outstanding.
While we’ve visited a hundred bakeries in Cuenca, this is the only place we’ve seen the fig empanada so far.

Soft fresh empanada stuffed with fig and cheese

To try one yourself, just order an “empanada de higo”. They are just twenty cents each.

Betcha can’t eat just one…

Display of the fig empanadas: Just $0.20 each

What is your favorite type of empanada?

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Saturday 29th of July 2023

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Tuesday 2nd of November 2021

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Monday 10th of February 2014

This isn't food related, but just wondering if there are any tennis courts in Cuenca. If not are there any courts in other areas of Ecuador?

Bryan Haines

Tuesday 11th of February 2014

Yes, there are some courts at 12 de Abril y Unidad Nacional. Also, outside of town at some of the hosterias and haciendas.

Shawn Smith

Monday 7th of October 2013

Hi Bryan, 1. When expats come to Ecuador, do they first come on a tourist visa and then apply for residency while they are in Ecuador? 2. What type of visa one should have when entering Ecuador with the intention of becoming an expat? 3. I checked the Ecuadorian Embassy website. It appears that regardless of the reason one enters Ecuador, he or she must have a roundtrip ticket. Since regular airline tickets are non-refundable, half the ticket fare will be lost? Am I reading it correctly? How do others do? Thanks for this blog. This is the most informative blog among the websites on Cuenca. Shawn

Bryan Haines

Thursday 31st of October 2013

Hi Shawn, thanks so much! Some expats apply for residency from abroad. Others arrive with a t-3 tourist stamp in their visa. For legal questions, it is best to confirm with an immigration lawyer to see what is being enforced right now. I've heard that the airfare rule isn't enforced. When we arrived four years ago, we had a one way ticket. Others buy a refundable / changeable ticket.

Alba G.

Monday 7th of October 2013

I haven't had this dessert, but I plan to do so on our upcoming trip to Cuenca area. I expect it's similar to the Cuban dessert of Guava with cream cheese. The Guava is canned & labeled Guaca Skins--very sweet, but tempered by the cream cheese. It's super simple & exquisite. Guava is also known as "guayaba", not sure if they have this fruit in Ecuador.

Bryan Haines

Monday 7th of October 2013

We have guayaba here - it is common as a drink and a fruit sauce (jam).