Tag Archives: Figs

Chocolate Dipped Figs and Pop Up Suppers

Every once in a while it’s good to push your professional self a little and get out of your comfort zone (you can translate that as – terrify the living daylights out of yourself, hopefully glide through the process and then feel on top of the world because you’ve achieved something).

I’m feeling both apprehensive and excited about cooking for my first pop up at The Bertinet Kitchen in Bath tomorrow. It’s odd because I used to do lots of catering but it’s been a while and nowadays I’m more used to teaching and doing demo’s than “cheffing”. I’d be just a little more relaxed if I wasn’t following in the footsteps of the über talented Nathan Outlaw (oh yes, Mr 2 stars) and Monsieur Bertinet himself, who’ve cooked up the pop up feast for the last 2 weeks. I’ll give you an update in a few days time (that’s assuming I don’t cremate the food and totally cock-up and then I’ll obviously go underground)

Anyhow, today I decided I’d get a couple of jobs done, one being these chocolate figs – they really are spectacularly tasty so I thought I’d share the recipe. There’s nothing new about these – they’re an Italian classic. I learned to make them decades ago when I was working in a cookery school in Umbria with Ursula Ferrigno. They follow in the tradition of the Italian biscuits called brutti ma buoni (ugly but good); they’re not much to look at, but you just taste one.

Chocolate dipped figsChocolate Figs with Almonds –  Begin a day in advance

12 soft, dried figs
100 ml brandy
12 whole blanched almonds (ideally plenty so that you can eat the rest with a glass of fino sherry)
100 g dark (at least 70% cocoa solids) chocolate
Zest of 1 orange

Slice the tough little stalk off each dried fig and soak for as long as you have in the brandy, preferably overnight. (A quick zap in the microwave or warming through in a pan will help things along if you’ve forgotten)

Roast the almonds in a hot oven for anything between 5 and ten minutes until they smell nutty and heavenly. Watch them like a hawk, giving them a shake in their roasting tray from time to time.

Melt the chocolate – in a bowl over a pan of hot water or as I do on the very lowest microwave setting.

Now get a production line going.
Take a fig (you can drink the left over brandy later or use it for cookin)  -Push an almond into the fig – Dab the fig in the orange zest – Dip the fig in the warm chocolate- Place on a sheet of greaseproof paper to firm up – Sample with a cup of espresso.

And just one tip when cooking for large numbers or performing any repetitive kitchen tasks – it’s time to crank up the music.  E.L.O or Earth Wind and Fire make the jobs fly by.


Roasted Figs with Pomegranate Molasses

Sacha's fresh figsToday’s recipe comes from the magical Mr Ottolenghi via a fabulous blog called Milli’s kitchen. The fruit fairy (our lovely neighbour who drops in random boxes of fruit on a Sunday morning – I know I’m blessed!) had left me a beautiful tray of figs this weekend and I immediately thought of Milli’s post. Blogging has transformed the way that people pass on recipes, I’m still amazed by everyone’s generosity (as long as they credit the original source). When I first started cooking professionally I worked for an Italian family on their very chi-chi yacht and was sent to learn a few family favorites from their home cook. It was like extracting blood from a stone, the old bag was not going to part with any of her crowd-pleasers (she probably even sabotaged the recipes she gave me) and I think this was often the way in the past. I know everyone loves to be nostalgic about recipes being handed down through the generations. I have to say it depends on your heritage; I’d rather be cooking Mr Ottolenghi’s fantastical figs than my mother’s (sorry Mum) rather hefty cheese and potato pie.

Roasted Figs with Pomegranate Molasses and Orange Zest

I have been terribly lazy today, quite literally lifting this recipe from Milli’s blog, it did seem a bit of a waste of time to re-type the whole thing.  Sometimes the “Chinese Whisper” effect can enhance a dish, with each cook adding or adjusting but this is SO delicious that I wanted to leave it as is. Oh, and that makes me think of my joke of the moment (not mine at all, some fab comic’s at The Edinburgh Festival) “There’s a rumour that Cadbury’s are developing a new Oriental chocolate bar…….could be a Chinese Wispa” boom, boom! Well, it appealed to my very childish sense of humour.

Figs with Pomegranate molasses

3 tbsp of pomegranate molasses
1 tbsp of lemon juice
3 tbsp dark muscovado sugar
4 thyme sprigs
skin of 1 orange, in strips
8 fresh figs, cut lengthways
100g mascarpone
100g yogurt
icing sugar
pinch of salt

Put together in a large mixing bowl the pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, 2 thyme sprigs, 1 tablespoon of water, the orange skin strips and a pinch of salt. Mix well to dissolve the sugar and then stir in the figs. Set aside to marinate for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk together in a small bowl the mascarpone, yoghurt and icing sugar until smooth. Keep chilled.
Remove the figs from the bowl (keeping the marinade) and arrange them snugly inside a small baking tray, roughly 20x20cm, the cut side facing up. Sprinkle the figs with the remaining sugar and put under a hot grill, clearing about 15cm from the grill. Grill for 10 minutes, or until the sugar has caramelised and the figs softened.
Meanwhile, pour the marinating liquids into a small saucepan, bring to the boil and then simmer for 2-4 minutes or until the sauce is reduced by half and has a consistency of runny honey.
Transfer the hot figs to serving plates and spoon over any leftover syrup from the baking tray, then drizzle over the sauce reduction and sprinkle with picked thyme leaves. Place a spoonful of the yoghurt cream on the side or on the figs and sprinkle over the remaining orange zest. Serve at once.

And, before you groan about hard-to-track-down ingredients I’ll give you plenty more ideas for using the pomegranate molasses in the next few weeks (and it’s readily available in what Imi always refers to as the “orange supermarket” yes the one with the S)

Just one more thing….food blogs aren’t only about sharing recipes. I came across Milli’s blog after seeing her Pug cake yes, you read it right and finished up, by way of admiring an avocado tree on another post, finding out about her parent’s amazing B&B near Malaga. Now I’m going to tell you more, oh yes so much more, about Rancho del Ingles in another post. In fact I would LOVE to run some cooking courses there, so watch this space. For now I’ll leave you with a few pictures; just a little taster.