01 October 2009
RECIPE: Baked Figs with Honey, Orange Flower, Walnuts and thyme
Ladies and gentlemen rejoice because fig season is upon us.
I love fresh figs and I'm sure many of you must have heard me moan* about the quality and price of figs in the UK, not a patch on the green jammy figs I gorge myself on if I'm lucky to find myself in Italy in fig season. But finding them on offer in the supermarket for 15p it is difficult to refuse. And yeah, they are flown in from somewhere that actually had some sun this summer. Some people rob banks, steal cars or poke people in the eye. I buy imported fruit once in a while - call the foodie cops for I have sinned.
Baking figs like these, which have been picked a tad early to aid them in transportation, is a good way of releasing their jamminess and caramel chewiness which in my book, equals happiness.
This is an easy and super quick pud, based on a recipe by Tamasin Day-Lewis. The thyme works so well with the figs and the flavour walnuts release when they are warmed in sweet syrup is like an early taste of Christmas.
Knob of butter
1 tbsp orange flower essence
(optional) 1 tbsp of Amaretto liqueur, or a thick, treacle-like sherry like Pedro Ximenez
Handful of shelled and lightly crushed walnuts (try to avoid the rancid pre-shelled pieces from the bakery aisle)
Few sprigs of fresh thyme
Crème fraîche or mascarpone to serve
Preheat the oven to 190°C.
In a small saucepan, gently heat the honey, butter, orange flower and booze (if using) until melted an runny.
Cut a deep cross on the top of each fig and place in an ovenproof dish. Press down on each quarter to part the fig and stuff with the walnuts. Pour over the honey liquid and roast for 15 minutes.
Turn off the oven and strip the leaves from the thyme twigs, sprinkling a few leaves on each fig. Baste the figs with the liquid in the dish, which should have turned a beautiful purply-rose colour. Pop back in the turned off oven for 10 minutes.
Serve with a nice dollop of crème fraîche or mascarpone cheese, both work perfectly with the sweetness of the figs.