Figs taste like summer in the South. They are sweet and soft and sticky. It's impossible to pick them off the tree without making a mess. A few are always hidden on the ground, either overly ripe, or pecked at by birds. You drag that sticky sweet everywhere you go on the bottom of your flip flops until the dog licks them clean.
How do they taste? Simple and sweet, like a pear or a peach or a strawberry. Not salty or tart. Nothing overly complex or sophisticated.
They pair well with cheese -- something about mixing sweet and salty. You can put them on cereal, in a salad, or dip them in chocolate. Lots of people make fig preserves and fig jam.
At Mary's Cakes & Pastries, we make fig blondies.
Blondies also taste like summer. Sweet like brown sugar, chewy like a tanned brownie, with a hint of salted caramel, they are the perfect vehicle to showcase fresh figs.
We dry our fresh figs slightly to remove some of the moisture, which helps them maintain their shape in the batter. We use a dehydrator, but you can also dry them in the sun or in the oven. If you have never done this before, check out this quick tutorial.
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 cup butter or margarine
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 2 tsp. orange zest
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 1/2 cup mini white chocolate chips
- 4 cups fresh figs, halved and dried (makes 1 1/2 to 2 cups of dried figs).
- Caramel icing (see below)
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease and line a 9x14 inch baking pan.
Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter or margarine and brown sugar in an electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs, vanilla, and orange zest and continue mixing until thoroughly combined.
Add dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in nuts, white chocolate chips, and dried figs.
Spoon batter into pan and smooth out.
Bake at 325 for 25 minutes or until firm, but not dry. Remove from oven. Ice while still slightly warm and sprinkle remaining chopped pecans over caramel icing.
Cool thoroughly and cut into squares.
1 cup butter
1 cup heavy cream
2 lbs. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
Melt butter in a heavy saucepan. Add sugar and heavy cream. Bring to a rolling boil. Remove from heat and pour hot icing into the metal bowl of an electric mixer fitter with a whip. Beat at medium speed until cool. If icing become s grainy, add a small amount (1 tsp. at a time) of water. Icing should have consistency of a very thick sauce at room temperature. If icing is made ahead of time and becomes hard, soften over low heat or in the microwave before using.