Now, this is really dating myself, but, do you remember the Big Fig from the Fig Newton commercials that used to run during Saturday morning cartoons? Like lots of iconic advertising and other symbols of my childhood, what was once funny and entertaining, now seems slightly disturbing: a giant fig with legs, face, and arms singing about a cookie. It certainly didn't have an impact on my consumption of the cake-like treats one way or another. I've always liked them, but they weren't ever really on my all-time, top-5 snacking list.
As I've gotten older, I've discovered that I really like figs themselves, and their mention on a menu is enough to get me to try a dish. In season, they are lovely, squishy, sweet, and perfumey. Although I do enjoy them, I end up running into a problem of just what to do with the vat of figs that I inevitably buy at the grocery store. Like with many other kinds of produce that I have to purchase in a set quantity because that is just how it is just how it is sold, I tend to run out of ideas for how to finish it all before it spoils.
Watching a lone fig slowly start to deteriorate in the back of my fridge, a thought came to mind. I'd already eaten several of these purple beauties, working on my Gorgonzola-stuffed Fig Drizzled with Honey recipe (see below). Not that I was exactly sick of that combination of soft, fragrant fruit and pungent cheese with an extra dash of sweet, but I wanted to do something different.
The "lightbulb effect" occurred. I remembered the fig butter that one of my favorite brunch places Avra serves along with their sesame-seed crusted bread at the start of a meal. We usually devour it in minutes. Compound or flavored butters (ones mixed with various herbs and spices) are an interesting category of spreads which I've never really taken up in my culinary experiments. For the sake of the leftover figs, I was willing to give it a shot. Here are the results:
The sweet-creamy butter was the perfect thing to jazz up my Sunday brunch. I ate it spread liberally on whole grain toast that went with my spinach-shallot-goat's cheese omelet. Another way, that I'm sure it would be heavenly would be on toasted brioche bread or challah. I'm not sure if it is exactly the same recipe as that used in the restaurant, but the flavors were very close. Fig Newtons, step aside!
Gorgonzola-stuffed Fig Drizzled with Honey
Serving size: one fig per person
Prep time: 15 minutes
Gorgonzola cheese (not the hard, crumbly version)
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the stem off of the fig. Make two cross-wise slits two-thirds of the way down the fig. Place fig in center of small square of aluminum foil.
Push slice of gorgonzola into the opening of the fig. Enclose it in foil and place in oven. Cook for 8-10 minutes, until the cheese is almost melted. Remove fig from foil and pour any juices from the foil over the fruit. Drizzle with 1/4 teaspoon of honey.
Serving size: One ramekin
Prep time: 15 minutes, plus softening time
2 Figs, very ripe
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 Tablespoon heavy cream
2 teaspoons honey
1/8 teaspoon salt
Cut open figs and scrape out soft, pink insides. Put in bowl. Don't worry if you also scrape out some of the white part, but you don't want the outside skin.
Cut butter into small pieces and put in same bowl. Add rest of ingredients. With hand-held or standing mixer, blend ingredients until fully combined and fluffy.
Put butter into ramekin, cover with plastic and place in refrigerator for 10 minutes to harden. Serve with toasted bread.