Figs, not as you know them
I never really liked figs until a friend made me a fig pizza with caramelised onion and goat’s cheese. I couldn’t get enough of it!
The combination of figs with caramel and soft cheese is impossible for me to resist. Here’s a dessert version of a similar flavour combination. If fresh figs are not in season, this recipe also works well with ripe pears.
Vincotto figs with caramelised walnuts and marscapone
prep time: 20 minutes
cooking time: about 20 minutes + cooling
makes: 4 serves
110g (½ cup) caster sugar
125ml (½ cup) water
50ml vincotto (see Note)
8 ripe figs
220g (1 cup) caster sugar
180ml (¾ cup) water
60g (⅔ cup) walnuts
180g (¾ cup) mascarpone
1 tbs icing sugar, sifted
1 For the vincotto figs, combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until the sugar has
dissolved. Stir in the vincotto and increase the heat to bring to a simmer. Cook, without stirring, for 5–8 minutes, or until it is
a syrupy consistency.
2 To prepare the figs, cut each one into quarters, without going
right through the base. Pinch each fig at its base to help it open up. Place snugly into a deep, heatproof dish and pour the syrup over the figs. Leave figs to sit in the syrup while you prepare the walnuts.
3 For the caramelised walnuts, combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat and bring to a simmer. Cook, without stirring, for 10–15 minutes, or until it becomes a medium brown colour.
4 Meanwhile, toast the walnuts in a dry frying pan over medium-low heat until they have taken on a little colour and become fragrant. Line a baking tray with baking paper. When the syrup has reached its desired colour, add the walnuts to the syrup then spoon them out individually onto the baking paper. Leave for about 10 minutes, until they cool and harden.
5 For the sweet mascarpone, place the ingredients into a bowl and stir until thoroughly combined.
6 To serve, place two fi gs onto each serving plate. Top each with a dollop of sweet mascarpone and drizzle with the vincotto syrup. Scatter walnuts on and around the figs.
Each component can be prepared ahead of time and assembled just before serving. Vincotto (also known as vino cotto) is a condiment made from grape must. It can be likened to caramelised balsamic vinegar (but it is not actually a vinegar), so use this if you cannot get vincotto.
These caramelised walnuts can be used in so many dishes, both sweet and savoury. Try them on ice cream sundaes, with chocolate cakes or on cheese platters.
This is an extract from Kate Bracks' book, The Sweet Life: basics and beyond, Random house, $49.95. Re-published with permission.