The subtle flavour of figs works well in both sweet and savoury dishes, says Melanie Johnson.
A glut of figs is a very welcome problem in my kitchen. I can’t get enough of their subtle flavour, which works so well in both sweet and savoury dishes.
Fig, walnut and maple-syrup cheesecake
For the base
- 75g lightly toasted walnuts
- 150g digestive biscuits
- 50g dried figs, very finely chopped
- 1tspn finely chopped fresh rosemary (optional)
- Pinch of sea salt
- 75g melted butter
- 75ml maple syrup
For the filling
- 500g cream cheese
- 1tspn vanilla-bean paste
- 75g icing sugar
- 250ml double cream
For the topping
- 6–8 quartered figs
- 25g lightly toasted and roughly chopped walnuts
- 30ml maple syrup
Line the base and sides of a 20cm spring-form cake tin with silicone paper, using butter to keep it in place.
To prepare the base, blitz the walnuts into large crumbs using a food processor (alternatively, bash them in a freezer bag). Add the digestives and repeat. In a large bowl, combine the crumbs with the dried figs, rosemary and sea salt, then pour the melted butter and maple syrup over them. Mix well, then spoon into the prepared cake tin, using the back of a spoon to push the mixture down into a smooth and level cake base.
To prepare the filling, mix together the cream cheese, vanilla-bean paste and icing sugar using an electric whisk. Add the double cream and mix again until fully combined. Pour onto the cheesecake base and smooth the surface with a spatula. Tap the tin firmly on a work surface to remove air bubbles, then leave the cake in the fridge to set overnight.
Once set, remove the cheesecake gently from the tin. Decorate the top with fresh fig quarters, sprinkle on the toasted walnut pieces, drizzle with maple syrup and enjoy.
More ways with figs
These are very simple, but make a delicious addition to a summer barbecue. Simply skewer Parma ham, halved figs and mozzarella. Cook for a few minutes on each side or until the cheese starts to melt and serve on a bed of dressed rocket.
On a baking sheet, drizzle halved figs with honey and bake in a moderate oven for 12 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together whipped cream and custard. Place two fig halves in the base of a ramekin, spoon in the cream and custard, then top with another two fig pieces. Drizzle with a little more honey and add a sprinkling of chopped white chocolate, pistachios and a few edible rose petals.
Roasted sweet-potato and fig salad
Cut 2 sweet potatoes into wedges (no need to peel), drizzle with olive oil and roast in a moderately hot oven until tender – about 20 minutes, depending on size. Remove to cool slightly. In a bowl, mix together 3 handfuls of rocket, 2 spring onions (chopped on the diagonal), 4 quartered figs, 1 diced red chilli and 100g of crumbled feta, then gently fold these through the sweet potato. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and serve.
The flavours in this recipe will make you feel as though you're in Provence.
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