Dried Fig compote with walnuts and sesame seeds

Today I was having a conversation (in my head) with Pierre Hermé, the internationally famous French pastry chef. “Monsieur Hermé, would you taste this humble fig compote, created by no less humble Lebanese countrywomen with their winter provisions, some dried figs, a handful of walnuts, a fistful of sesame seeds, a dash of anise, a smidgeon of miske (mastic) and tell me if you can top that! “

To which he replied, lifting his toque, “Non, Madame, je m’incline!” (I bow to you).

After all, Monsieur Hermé, you borrowed from our patrimoine (heritage), you created your famous macarons with our rose and pistachio flavors! You called your pastries Ispahan (if I am not mistaken where is that from, China?!!)

Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, this is what Monsieur Hermé would reply; the complex yet immensely satisfying medley of flavors created by humble Lebanese countrywomen ( and men) is it!

A  few things you need to know about this compote:

  1. You can make it in less than 30 minutes.
  2. It will last up to a year if preserved in a jar and sealed properly.
  3. It is the one of the best and  simplest desserts  you will ever experience.
  4. It is also “good for you”, very “healthy” and nutritious.

To sum it up, here is what you will do: You will cook cut-up figs in a simple anise-scented  sugar syrup along with some walnuts, until the figs are totally imbibed with the syrup; you will “finish” it off with a swirl of toasted sesame seeds and a dash of mastic (if you like that exotic flavor-I am under its spell!)

You will keep a jar of it close by when the urge for ” a little something sweet” tugs at you.


  • 1 pound of dried figs
  • 1 cup of walnuts
  • 3/4 cup of sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon of ground anise
  • 1/4 teaspoon of mastic pebbles (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cup of sugar, 1 1/2 cups of water
  • 1/2 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice

What you can do ahead of time:

  1. Cut up the figs in little pieces and discard the hard tips.
  2. Chop the walnuts in coarse bits.
  3. Place the sesame seeds on a baking sheet or in a skillet and toast gently for a few minutes till golden.
  4. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon and measure to get one half of a tablespoon.
  5. Place the mastic pebbles in a small mortar and crush with a pinch of sugar till powdery.

When you are ready:

  1. Place the sugar and water in a heavy-bottomed pan. As soon as the syrup boils, add the lemon juice and stir. If you find some froth at the top, remove it and discard it.
  2. Add the anise and the walnuts. Let them simmer for a minute, then add the cut up figs.
  3. Simmer the mixture gently for about 15 minutes or so, stirring frequently so as not to let it stick to the bottom of the pot. When the syrup has almost evaporated, add the sesame seeds.
  4. Stir for a few minutes until the mixture is very thick. Turn off the heat, add the ground mastic and stir vigorously to mix it well.
  5. Let the mixture cool. Pour into a sterilized jar and close tightly. It will keep for up to one year.

NOTE: To sterilize jars: Follow the directions.

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  1. Posted February 1, 2010 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    Dried fig compote…never had a opportunity to try this…sounds and looks yummie…great with a toast :-)

  2. Posted February 2, 2010 at 12:30 am | Permalink

    Thats a quick,easy and a delicious dessert, i love the step by step pics as well, very easy to understand how u made all this…thanks for sharing…

  3. Posted February 2, 2010 at 1:28 am | Permalink

    Hi. The compote is so healthy and so interesting. I have bookmarked, thanks for sharing.

  4. Posted February 2, 2010 at 2:32 am | Permalink

    This is my favorite. Every time I go to lebanon, I plucked jars of fig compote in my suitcase hehe
    I am sure that Pierre Herme would definitely die for it :)

  5. Posted February 2, 2010 at 2:37 am | Permalink

    Haha, lovely post. I wonder if you’d consider heresy to use this as filling for some pastry…

  6. Posted February 2, 2010 at 2:37 am | Permalink

    I was reading what I just wrote oh my god!! I just woke up excuse-moi :) from where did i get the word plucked hehe… maybe becoz i was thinking of my eyebrows hehe Anyway what i meant is:
    This is my favorite. Every time I go to lebanon, I tuck jars of fig compote in my suitcase :))))
    I am sure that Pierre Herme will definitely die for it :)

  7. Posted February 2, 2010 at 2:47 am | Permalink

    A delightful treat!



  8. Posted February 2, 2010 at 4:46 am | Permalink

    hmmm..so crunchy and delicious:) Awesome Combination!

  9. Joumana
    Posted February 2, 2010 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    Heck no! I have done it myself! One time I made cookies with a few anise seeds in the dough and rolled it up with the jam filling.

  10. Posted February 2, 2010 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Wow, there is nothing humble about this compote!
    And if you’ve read my blog, you would’ve noticed I’ve mentioned marrying Monsieur Pierre.
    But Jourmana, if you can produce such a wonderful-looking compote, with minimal ingredients, I say, to heck with Hermé, I want to marry you!

  11. Posted February 2, 2010 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    So, I am not the only one who has these imaginary conversations? Good to know! I have no doubt that the conversation would go as you imagined it, as this is a beautiful recipe. Je m’incline aussi, madame!

  12. Posted February 2, 2010 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    what a delicious and wonderful compote. love the combination of figs and walnuts.

  13. Posted February 2, 2010 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Hello my friend
    Great Posting… I made lots this summer . Some I used dried chopped figs, and some I used fresh which comes from California tasteless, as its picked before its ready, for shipping,and best used in cooking and baking…even I experiment fresh figs jam with rhubarb.
    Still my favourit is the dried figs, my recipe is similar to yours, but I add the toasted nuts at the end to keep them crunchy….

  14. Posted February 2, 2010 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Oh back to Mr,Hermes….
    Yes this is 1000% true story and the Louzieh is our recipe, and it became the famous fresh cookies.
    AMAL from Amour Des Saveurs did a posting about that in her blog , Also I found some information online
    which confirms that.

  15. Posted February 2, 2010 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    simply love it…figs are my fav. I can munch on them all the time…will def. try this one….btw do u have any good recipe for fig cake….

  16. Posted February 2, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Oh WOW! That looks soooo good and full of great flavors!

  17. Posted February 2, 2010 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    Oh yes, this is definitely something I would adore! I love how the flavor of the figs is highlighted so well in this gorgeous dish!

  18. Posted February 2, 2010 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    Hi Joumana

    Great recipe and what an amazing dessert. Figs are so emblamatic of Lebanon, and the addition of walnuts and sesame seeds complete the picture. Mom used to put almonds in there as well. You should show us how to make figs in syrup next. I’m sure everyone would love it.


  19. Posted February 2, 2010 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    That…looks…SO good. I love figs, and I love it in a combination with crunchy things! I would want this spread on a good, crusty bread, with brie!

  20. Posted February 3, 2010 at 5:34 am | Permalink

    I love old recipes like these, from a time when natural sweeteners like dried fruits, honey and other natural means were used. I’m a big fan of sesame and mastixa.

  21. Posted February 3, 2010 at 6:00 am | Permalink

    I love figs SO much, Definitely one of my favorite dried (and fresh) fruits. I am totally bookmarking this. It needs to be eaten over some vanilla bean ice cream!

  22. Posted February 3, 2010 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Very good recipe and I love the way you structured it. Would this go well with cheese? I love serving quince jam and walnuts with a platter of cheese whenever I have friends over for dinner, but I think I will give your compote a try for our next dinner party. We had a “Syrian Supper” evening with dishes of Syrian Foodie in London (Kano) as part of our London Cooking Club, it was such a success and the food was sensational.

    Luiz @ The London Foodie

  23. Joumana
    Posted February 3, 2010 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    That is a fantastic idea! I have not seen it done that way before, but it sounds great to me! I guess you will give the type of cheese chosen a lot of thought, once you taste the fig compote. I think it would go with a Manchego, but whatever!

  24. Posted February 3, 2010 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Yum! I must try this dessert! Thanks for sharing! And yum, this sounds like it would be perfect with Manchego.

  25. Posted February 4, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    Doesn’t that look amazing!! We only have a few family recipes from Lebanon and, sadly, this is not one of them. Will have to try it out!

  26. Posted February 4, 2010 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    I have all the stuffs ready except mastic.Looks like i am going to try this one very soon!!

  27. Posted February 4, 2010 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    I like the fact that it takes less than 30 minutes to make!

  28. Posted March 31, 2010 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    This is it, I’m so excited! I just bought 3 more jars yesterday when I was in the city, when I run out again I will give this a try. Thank you for sharing!!

  29. Posted July 3, 2010 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    I’m a lover of figs, and this recipe looks exceptional and will become a staple in my pantry after I bottle up a batch.

  30. abeer
    Posted June 14, 2011 at 2:52 am | Permalink

    i ve recently become a huge dreid -fig person, but i bought ones tht dont taste tht nice so decided to try doing something with t, so tried last night, and t z delicious, i jst added a bit of ground cinnamon to the syrup, but noticed tht the end product z very very thick, z t supposed to be so?or i over dried the mixture?

  31. Joumana
    Posted June 15, 2011 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    @abeer: it is supposed to be thick, you eat it from a spoon.

One Trackback

  1. By Fig rolls on April 8, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    [...] For a traditional fig jam recipe with walnuts, sesame seeds and anise, click here. [...]

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