Freshly picked, beautifully ripe, crimson-hued figs. Is there anything better?
Regular readers may remember that I went fig picking at Kate’s house last year. Kate is a fellow food blogger and a cousin of my sister in law. There is exactly 0.03 degrees of separation in Adelaide – sometimes it’s delightful and sometimes it’s a horror movie. This is one of the former occasions.
Kate invited us to pick figs again this year and after three aborted attempts due to torrential rain, no ripe figs due to the rain and a dodgy knee, we finally made it last Thursday afternoon.
The kids quickly put the plastic gloves on and began searching for figs. The old tree is dotted with fat, plump figs hanging low enough for the kids to reach them on their tippy toes.
After the kids find all the low hanging fruit they get bored and run off to play. Kate then uses a ladder to reach the fruit further up the tree.
We leave with around two kilograms of beautiful purple and green figs. Thank you, Kate!
Fig and Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Balsamic Glaze
If you are lucky enough to get your hands on figs that are this ripe, sweet and fresh, the less done to them, the better. So the next day I decide that I will make two dishes using uncooked figs leaving some of the figs to use in a cake that I’ll bake in a couple of days time.
I think about using the figs to decorate a multi-layered chocolate cake, a classic sponge cake or pavlova before deciding to use them on a cheese cake – the first cheese cake on this blog, actually.
Cheese cakes are really simple and there’s no baking involved with this one either. You simply blitz some biscuits to make the base, beat some cream cheese with vanilla, lemon, sugar, cream and gelatine and refrigerate. Easy, right?
In this recipe the balsamic glaze is key for me; I love how the acidic tang of the glaze contrasts with the rich honey tones of the figs so beautifully. However, my kids didn’t like the balsamic glaze so if you have little ones eating this you could substitute a strongly-flavoured honey (or rice malt syrup, treacle or maple syrup) for the glaze. Or you could try a mixture of both, actually.
If your budget stretches to whole vanilla bean pods then by all means use them as the mellow flavour will really shine through. Alternatively, use a top quality vanilla bean paste or essence (I buy organic ones from Foodland that are actually cheaper than the regular ones from Coles).
So tell me, how do you like to eat figs?
PS Thanks to Ms E, who agreed to be my hand model in exchange for the first slice of cake. Isn’t she great at pointing? “The fig cake is… right here.”
Fig Cheesecake with Balsamic Glaze
- 250 grams chocolate biscuits
- 80 grams butter or margarine
- 500 grams cream cheese
- 3/4 cup caster sugar
- 1 cup cream
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 3 teaspoons gelatine powder dissolved in 1/4 cup boiling water
- Seeds from 1 vanilla bean pod or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract or essence
- 8-10 ripe figs
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar glaze
- Spray a 20cm springform cake tin with baking oil or grease with margarine/butter. Line the bottom with a disc of baking paper.
- Blitz the biscuits in a food processor until they are sand-like and place into a medium bowl.
- Heat up the butter in a small saucepan (or in the microwave) and then mix into biscuit crumbs with a spoon until thoroughly combined.
- Press the biscuit mixture firmly into the base of the cake tin evenly and then refrigerate.
- With a stand or hand mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar for 2-3 minutes until smooth, then add cream, lemon juice, gelatine mixture and vanilla.
- Beat for another minute or so until completely combined and then turn out into the cake tin, using an offset spatula (or the back of a spoon) to smooth and spread the mixture evenly.
- Refrigerate the cake for three hours or overnight.
- Once cake is ready, gently turn out onto serving plate or cake stand.
- Wash and gently dry figs (once you wash them they will start to spoil so don’t wash them too soon) and slice or leave whole as desired.
- Arrange the figs over the cake — I prefer a more natural, non-symmetrical design — and dribble balsamic glaze (or alternative) over the top.
More Fig Recipes and Other Desserts
- Grilled Figs with Vanilla Ice Cream and Strawberry Sauce
- Duck with Plum Sauce and Figs
- Sponge Cake with Berries and Cherries
- Rosewater, Cardamon and Pistachio Bundt Cake
- Floating Islands
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