Caramelized Figs (Fichi Caramellati)
Source: Joyce Goldstein
This recipe was demonstrated for CUESA's Market to Table program on September 21, 2012.
Here's a simple baked fig dessert based on a recipe from Donatella Pavoncello. Pears can be prepared the same way: peel, halve, and core, then poach in syrup or wine with strips of lemon zest or vanilla bean. They will take longer to cook than the figs.
2 pounds ripe figs
Lemon zest strips, 1 inch long and ¼ inch wide
2 cups sugar
Rum, as needed (optional)
1. Arrange the whole figs in a deep, wide saucepan. Cut a small slit at the top of each fig and insert a lemon zest strip into each slit. Sprinkle the sugar over the figs and add water, or part water and part rum, to a depth of ¼ inch in the pan.
2. Put a vanilla bean in the center of the pan.
3. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the sugar caramelizes, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve warm.
Note: Another version of this dish calls for making a medium-thick sugar syrup. Allow it to cool a bit, and then pour it over the uncooked figs. A few drops of rum are added. The dish is then tightly sealed for a few hours so the figs absorb the syrup.