GringosAbroad Ecuador

Higos con Queso (Figs with Cheese): Ecuadorian Dessert

Posted in: Ecuador Travel, Living in Ecuador

higo-queso-ecuador-dessertA 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.

Higos con Queso

  • 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?

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Meet the Author

Bryan Haines is co-editor of GringosAbroad - Ecuador's largest blog for expats and travelers. He is a travel blogger and content marketer. He is also co-founder of ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorial blog) and Storyteller Media (content marketing for travel brands). Work with GringosAbroad.

32 comments… add one
  • Carolyn Feb 10, 2014, 5:42 pm

    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 Feb 11, 2014, 6:59 am

      Yes, there are some courts at 12 de Abril y Unidad Nacional. Also, outside of town at some of the hosterias and haciendas (like Hacienda Uzhupud in Paute).

  • Shawn Smith Oct 7, 2013, 9:17 pm

    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.


    • Bryan Haines Oct 31, 2013, 6:54 am

      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. Oct 7, 2013, 7:49 am

    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 Oct 7, 2013, 7:59 am

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

  • Fred Aug 25, 2013, 7:17 am

    While staying in a private home in Cuenca for a week there were the jellied figs every morning with breakfast. I love them. When I return I will be sure to add cheese!

  • Kurt Carter Jul 29, 2013, 12:31 pm

    Just wanted to say Thank You for all the great posts, Bryan! You always give excellent and interesting information.

  • Anna Dowdy Jul 28, 2013, 1:57 pm

    We are living in Cuenca. I am interested in the Higos con Queso recipe…Have you ever tried to fix it at home? If so, does one just try to find preserved figs at the grocery? Or should I go out to a restaurant to find this dessert?

    • Bryan Haines Jul 29, 2013, 7:27 am

      We haven’t made it at home, but I expect you can find the figs at supermarket. Let us know how it goes…

    • Mike May 12, 2014, 11:40 pm

      I found them at SuperMaxi, in the dairy section. They’re great, and higos con queso make a great dessert.

      • Bryan Haines May 13, 2014, 6:06 am

        Thanks Mike – we’ve since found them as well. They come with panela and cinnamon.

  • Jean Cohen Jul 28, 2013, 1:31 pm

    Jakob, Thanks so much for your answer. I wouldn’t even think of cheese or meat – just everyday items that I always keep in the house. Nothing I can’t live without and I’m going to have to develop new eating habits. I’ve always had a habit of putting an item on my groc. list as soon as I open the previous one. Probably could last a few weeks or so with no shopping other than perishables. Living on a fixed income of S.S. and the price of food I just hate to toss it and don’t live near to a food bank/charity place. Also have lots of cooking spices which I hear are scarce over there.

  • Linda Mowbray Jul 27, 2013, 3:10 pm

    I always enjoy your articles and look forward to them Thanks

  • Jean Cohen Jul 27, 2013, 1:47 pm

    Hi Bryan
    I’m not real big on figs, but love most any kind of cheese. Moving to Cuenca by the end of the year and will have to try it. Are you allowed to bring in foods, like boxed mixes, spices, canned goods, condiments and all the normal things I have in my kitchen right now or do I have to get rid of them? I’m talking about shipping – not carrying in luggage. I am so confused about this move and what I can bring with me or ship by air freight or pallet.

    • Bryan Haines Jul 27, 2013, 4:55 pm

      In luggage you are allowed to bring food items. I’m sure that there are some limitations but I haven’t seen a list. I would suggest that you give that stuff away and just buy new here.

    • Jakob Jul 28, 2013, 9:29 am

      Usually, food is not worth the hassle of traveling with/shipping. If you need to bring in the occasional food item, the rule is that dry and canned food, sweets etc are not a problem. Meat, cheese etc SHOULD cause a problem if you haven’t declared it and customs discover it. The truth is that Ecuadorians don’t declare all kinds of food items that they should declare at the border and are usually not hassled. Occasionally, if customs has an I-take-my-job-seriously day, all that happens is that they throw your food into the garbage before they let you proceed. The reasoning is that certain food items can bring disease into the country.

  • jim brogan Jul 25, 2013, 9:21 pm

    hello from philippines. havent tried that food but sounds delicious. hey may I ask a few things about Ecuador? like how is the weather year round and is it hard to live there as far as immigration rules. do u have to pay every to or three months or can I get permanent status easily. Im not rich and take home about 2800 a month. Is that enough to live on? just a few questions. thanks for your time.
    jim brogan

    • Jakob Jul 26, 2013, 12:09 pm

      Jim… With 2800 a month you will be rich in Ecuador. It roughly corresponds to the salary of a university professor with a PhD. The government assumes that a family of 4 needs $600 a month to live on. Minimum wage is slightly over $300, just for comparison. I know plenty of people who survive on $300 a month if they have no shelter cost, but the question is whether that is the lifestyle you want. There is no “one” climate, Ecuador has many micro-climates and is very diverse in that respect. The one common denominator is that climate tends to be relatively stable in any given place due to the country’s location on the equator. The micro-climates are mainly caused by altitude differences and ocean currents.

  • Ken Jul 25, 2013, 2:00 pm

    Being a cheesehead from Wisconsin it sounds good! We’re planning to move to Quenca in 11 months. I’ll be sure to try it.

  • Turns East Jul 25, 2013, 12:24 pm

    Sounds good, but unfortunately I cannot eat dairy (ie., cheese / milk / most chocolate / ice cream / yogurt / most packaged foods in grocery store have dairy in them — taco seasoning mix, etc.) Just taking advantage of an educational moment. I also cannot have gluten. Can you imagine?! Thanks.

  • Fran Yates Jul 25, 2013, 10:50 am

    We have a huge fig bush or tree that is daily producing huge figs, which we steamed, mash a little and then add Splenda… I am sure adding a portion of good cheese to the dish , would be wonderful.
    Fran Yates

  • Gerald & Laurie Brokate Jul 25, 2013, 10:23 am

    We have explored many areas in Ecuador over a 10 week period and planning a move there next March. We will look for this as my wife really has a sweet tooth.

  • Jakob Jul 25, 2013, 10:11 am

    That’s sierra food. It’s rather hard to find it on the coast. On the coast Maduro con Queso is popular, but I do not consider it a sweet dish.

    • Bryan Haines Jul 25, 2013, 10:29 am

      I’ve tried maduro con queso – I didn’t realize it was specific to the coast. Now that I think of it, we’ve only had higos con queso in Azuay and Cañar Provinces.

      • Jakob Jul 25, 2013, 6:24 pm

        It’s the climate. The food is highly regional because of it. For instance, my favourite fruit is Araza (from the Amazon) and until around 2009 I actually had to travel to the oriente to get it. When I first saw it in Guayaquil not so long ago it was almost a celebration. I have often wondered how logistics work in Ecuador, but until very, very recently the regions did not seem to exchange a lot of food.

  • Joyce Denton Jul 25, 2013, 9:44 am

    Higos con queso is reminiscent of another very popular Latin dessert: membrillo con queso. In Uruguay, where I am from though I live in Mexico, is is known as a “Martín Fierro”. Other countries have other names. These solidified sliced cooked fruit jellies are known in Mexico under the general term “ate”, the dessert is ate con queso. May be made of quince (membrillo) guava (guayaba) tejocote (don’t know!) and other fruits of this type. Perfect way to end a heavy meal, the cheese is usually a yellow cheese (MOnterrey Jack or similar) but I love it with fresh farmers cheese, and think that the lightness and creaminess and blandness of fresh white cheese would offset the figs marvelously! Thanks for sharing, I have followed your blog for three years now.

    • Bryan Haines Jul 25, 2013, 9:49 am

      I haven’t had it with jellies but it sounds nice. I’m going to watch for it. These figs are whole and preserved in a sugar sauce.

      Thanks for reading!

  • Eric Jul 25, 2013, 9:43 am

    Hello Brian
    the next time my wife and i go out to eat, i will request for desert a big bowel of higos con queso . and watch the look on the waitresses face .That should be interesting.

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