Figs are a sweet and versatile ingredient for desserts and have numerous health benefits. They are an excellent source of calcium and fiber, and also contain valuable minerals such as iron, magnesium and potassium. Ripe figs are a source of antioxidants, which are valuable weapons against heart disease, cancer and the visible signs of aging. Here are some delicious desserts containing figs.
1. Fresh Figs
Figs are difficult to transport because they bruise easily, so any figs you buy at the supermarket or from a farmer's market are likely to be fresh, ripe and delicious enough to eat as they are. Simply wash the fig thoroughly, then slice it in half and scoop out the flesh, or eat whole. The skin can be quite thick on some fig varieties, but all fig skins are edible. Figs make an excellent addition to a fruit and cheese platter, and can be served plain, drizzled with lemon juice or honey, or even sprinkled with cracked pepper.
2. Grilled Figs
Figs make an easy, quick dessert to serve with a barbecue or summer function. Slice the fresh figs in half and baste with olive oil. If you want, sprinkle them with some brown sugar (or salt, if you prefer to add your figs to a salad). Grill each side for a few minutes at medium heat, until the color at the center deepens. Figs are delicate, so be careful not to squash them. The heat of the grill will caramelize the sugars in the fig, leaving you with a warm, delicious and healthy accompaniment for ice cream or frozen yogurt.
3. Fig Ice Cream
Fresh or dried figs can be used to create an ice cream flavor with nutritional benefits. If you are using dried figs, you should soak them in water for at least 15 minutes first. Cut off the stems of all the figs. Then, either cook the figs with sugar to create a syrup, or peel and puree the (fresh) figs. If you prefer, add some lemon juice to enhance the sweetness of the fruit. Add the fig mixture to a standard vanilla ice cream (or gelato, or frozen yogurt) recipe and freeze in an ice cream maker according to directions.
4. Poached Figs
Figs make a delicious dessert when poached in wine. They can be used fresh or dried and cooked in any kind of red wine you might have on hand, although a dry red wine is best. Use sweet, whole spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg or cloves, along with honey or sugar. Add lemon zest if you wish. Combine all the ingredients and simmer for around 15 minutes for fresh figs, or 30 minutes for dried figs. Once the figs are done, continue boiling the syrup until it is as thick as you prefer, then strain out the spices and pour it over the figs. This can be served along with other poached fruits or with ice cream.
Figs are a delicious and nutritious ingredient and make for simple but luxurious desserts. Take advantage of the short fig season in late summer to try different fig recipes, or use dried figs to enjoy this tasty fruit all year round.