As I sit to write this, my mouth bites into the sweet velvety richness of a dried fig. I came home with an unseemly desire to feast upon the fabulous figs, inevitably pulling out Fig Heaven, a recipe cornucopia featuring the luscious fruit. Recently I have been treating myself to these newfound edible delights. Yup, figs. Ever since I was young I actually was always drawn to Fig Newtons if you recall (fruit and cake! Fruit. And. Cake!), and last year the aunty responsible for dressing me so exquisitely on my wedding introduced my mom and I to the succulence of fresh figs. So now, having found them in the grocery store, I couldn’t help but indulge… and truly, I feel nothing but pity for my former self that never dabbled in the fine art of fig feasting.
Thus I feel compelled to share a recipe I tried from this book, changed up to suit my palette a wee bit more, and to dispel any myths or trepidations one might feel for the rather under-appreciated fruit. Don’t let its curious exterior misguide you, nor allow the unfamiliar texture (nothing gross I promise! Like a velvety guava really) to overcome all sensibility—this truly is a remarkable piece of heaven. A breath of fresh air in a smog-filled arena of mundane vegetation. (tsk tsk, you know I love fruits, I’m just playin’.)
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- Two pinches of salt
- dash of cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons honey
- Orange zest (optional)
- Turkish figs
- Orange zest
- Orange juice/slices
- Basil leaves
So I actually mixed a few different ideas to create this dish (the crepe recipe was gleaned from Smitten Kitchen) and came up with these semi-sweet, semi-savory crepes, a perfect blend if you don’t want uber-sweetness (however tips abound for a shower of sugar if desired).
Let’s get the crepe mix out of the way: blend all the ingredients, store inside the fridge for at least half an hour and move on. Tricky Stuff, eh? To cook the crepes, warm a medium-sized skillet (I didn’t use a massive one because I wanted smaller crepes than one usually gets at a café.). Once warm, brush it lightly with melted butter or oil. Pour about ¼ up of batter into the man, swirling it around to evenly coat the pan and just let it cook for about 2 minutes (depending on the size of the pan, you might want to use more or less batter to make a thin delicate crepe). Once the bottom is a golden color and it has generally set, flip it over and cook for about 15 seconds and remove from the pan. Cover it with a paper towel and begin another crepe, always keeping the cooked ones covered so they retain moisture.
Now, on to the fun stuff. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Begin by quartering the figs two-thirds of the way down (see photos) so it still remains in one piece. Rub the outside with butter (might be good to do this first actually) and then within the fig sprinkle sugar and orange zest, fold in a basil leaf, and squeeze in a tiny bit of butter. Close the fig back together and delicately place in a pan so that it remains closed. Move on to the next fig and prepare as many as you like (think roughly 2 per crepe).
Once done, you can create orange-caramel syrup (which I passed on) by melting ½ cup sugar in a saucepan, then adding 1 cup heavy cream, cooking over medium heat until all the sugar dissolves and the mixture thickens. Add some orange zest and a drop of vanilla extract and set aside to cool to room temperature. I didn’t do this but for the sweeter tooth this would be delicious.
Instead I sprinkled the entire pan generously with sugar, tossed in orange wedges between the figs and added less than ¼ cup of water to the pan. (if you make the caramel sauce, then don’t add anything to the fig pan at this point).
Roast the figs uncovered at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, after which you cover it up for the remaining 5-8 minutes. Remove the pan and let them cool; you should find your perfectly moist figs swimming in a shallow sugary orange sea. This syrup will be used in the crepes, so don’t swipe too many tastes at it!
All that remains is assembly, as follows:
- Take one crepe
- Spread some mascarpone cheese around one third of the crepe
- Add a basil leaf and 1-2 figs
- Drizzle sugar syrup from pan (or orange caramel sauce if you cooked that/or some extra sugar/orwhipped crea,/or whatever you want/or just do what I did)
- Fold into a fancy triangle