Monday, September 24, 2007

Figs in Cherry Caramel

Figs In Cherry Caramel (01) by MeetaK

The wait is over and after a wonderful weekend away I now present and spoil you with a lovely dessert that will make mouths water. Provided you are a figs fan and provided you like desserts that are easy, sweet and fantastically delicate. I think that's pretty much covering many of my lovely readers.


Growing up in the Middle East, I ate figs like many eat apples. They were readily available and my mother used figs in various dishes she experimented with. I can remember our fruit bowl was almost always filled with fruits that many would call "exotic" but for us they were the norm and figs were a regular part of that norm.

Figs In Cherry Caramel (02) by MeetaK


Coming to Germany I was rather surprised that there are so many people - at least in my circle of friends - who stay clear of this luscious fruit. They are simply not sure what to do with it! Eat it for crying out loud is what I say. Then comes the never ending question - with or without the skin? I almost always have to roll my eyes. See I am the type of person who eats a fig - skin and all. That is part of the experience of biting into this fruit.


Figs

Figs (06) by MeetaK


The texture of figs combines a smoothness of their skin, chewiness of their flesh and the crunchiness of their seeds. I have often wondered why the "Apple" was the chosen fruit in the Garden of Eden when Eve could have used the sultry Fig. But that is another story. For me figs are reminiscent of ancient times, like the olive and symbolize lush sensuality in taste and texture.

There are several botanical types of fig but within these there are hundreds of commercial varieties. They form a wide spectrum of flavor, sweetness, size and color, ranging from purple to brown, green-gold, black or even white. In the Mediterranean regions, there are usually two crops, with the season stretching from June through to October and November. It is these second-crop figs that are usually dried.

Figs grow on the Ficus tree (Ficus carica), which is a member of the Mulberry family. They are unique in that they have an opening, called the "ostiole" or "eye," which is not connected to the tree, but which helps the fruit's development, aiding it in communication with the environment.

Figs dramatically range in color and subtly in texture depending upon the variety. There are more than one hundred and fifty different varieties of figs. Some of the most popular varieties are:
  • Black Mission: blackish-purple skin and pink colored flesh
  • Kadota: green skin and purplish flesh
  • Calimyrna: greenish-yellow skin and amber flesh
  • Brown Turkey: purple skin and red flesh
  • Adriatic: the variety most often used to make fig bars, which has a light green skin and pink-tan flesh
Figs are best eaten as ripe as possible, when they’re just on the point of bursting. Look for the telltale honey-like drop of moisture on the surface. Ripe figs, however, are highly perishable and will not keep for longer than three days in the fridge. Thin-skinned and easily bruised, they need careful handling and should be wrapped for travel in tissue.
My little secret tip: bring out their delicate scent and flavor by leaving them in the sun for an hour or so before serving.

Health Benefits
Figs have the highest overall mineral content of all common fruits. An excellent source of potassium, figs help to control blood pressure. Figs are also high in calcium, which protects bone density. Moreover, their potassium may reduce the amount of calcium lost as a result of high-salt diets. The fruit is also a source of iron, vitamin B6 and the trace mineral manganese.

Figs boast higher quantities of fiber than any other dried or fresh fruit. Insoluble fiber protects against colon and breast cancer, while soluble fiber helps lower blood cholesterol. Figs offer both types in one compact package. Since Americans on average eat less than half the minimum amount of dietary fiber thought to be necessary for good health, figs are a sweet and easy way to increase intake. Diets rich in fiber may also help manage weight. Additionally, figs’ fiber makes them a mild laxative.

As with many fruits and vegetables, figs are a good source of flavonoids and polyphenols, plant-based antioxidants that fight free radicals in the body. Studies show that dried figs have a phenol makeup ranging from 4 to 50 times higher than other fruits. Dried figs also contain Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids, which may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and improve immune function.

Selecting and Storing
As fresh figs are one of the most perishable fruits, they should be purchased only a day or two prior to eating. Look for figs that have a rich, deep color and are plump and tender, but not mushy. They should have firm stems and be free of bruises. Hold the fig close to your nose and smell them. Their aroma can also give you clues into their freshness and taste. They should have a mildly sweet fragrance and should not smell sour, which is an indication that they may be spoiled.

Keep ripe figs should in the refrigerator where they will stay fresh for about two days. Since they have a delicate nature and can easily bruise, they should stored either arranged on a paper towel-lined plate or shallow container. They should be covered or wrapped in order to ensure that they do not dry out, get crushed or pick up odors from other foods. If you have purchased slightly under-ripe figs, you should keep them on a plate, at room temperature, away from direct sunlight. Dried figs will stay fresh for several months and can either be kept in a cool, dark place or stored in the refrigerator. They should be well wrapped so that they are not over exposed to air that may cause them to become hard or dry.

Before eating or cooking figs, wash them under cool water and then gently remove the stem. Gently wipe dry.

Figs are best eaten fresh and pure. However, they are so versatile and can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. I love adding figs to a fresh salad, stuffing them with goats cheese or simply drizzled with honey and natural yogurt.

If you are looking for more great ideas, check out this month's Sugar High Friday over at lovely Ivonne's, who brilliantly chose The Beautiful Fig as her theme. Ivonne I'm sending you a huge hug and a large bowl of my Figs in Cherry Caramel. Something tells me you might like this one. I also recommend this dessert to all those of you who have not played around with figs before. The sweet and aromatic combination of figs with the cherry caramel is incredibly delicate. A taste I know you will love.


Ingredients

Figs In Cherry Caramel (04) by MeetaK


8 fresh figs - washed, wiped dry and cut into quarters
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 l cherry juice
100 ml red wine
100g cantuccini/biscotti - coarsely chopped


Method

Figs In Cherry Caramel (03) by MeetaK


In a saucepan melt the sugar on medium heat until it caramelizes into a wonderful amber color. Pour in the cherry juice. The sugar will crystalize but stirring it on the heat will re-melt it again. Reduce the entire mixture to about a quarter - this takes about 5-8 minutes.

Add the wine and gently heat through. Add the figs to the sauce and allow to simmer for 1-2 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Once cool, spoon the figs with the cherry caramel sauce into bowls and generously sprinkle with cantuccini.


Verdict

Figs In Cherry Caramel (05) by MeetaK


A dessert for a perfect end to a wonderful dinner for two. Sensual, sultry and seductive - how can your partner refuse you, your dessert and anything else you request ;-)


Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,



All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2007 Meeta Albrecht unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

34 comments :

  1. Looks great! I love figs in any form, so this works for me:)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Eating figs like many eat apples ... what a glorious image! Your posts are always such a treat, Meeta, and I was particularly impressed by the section on the health benefits of the fig. Such an important little flower!

    Your pictures, as usual, are stunning!

    Thanks so much for taking part in SHF #35!

    ReplyDelete
  3. The photo is great, but I love your dishes! Where did they come from?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Your photographs are absolutely luscious, as always. Wish I had some of those lovely figs right now!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Meeta, a fantastic dessert! You have come up with a wonderful way of making dessert with fresh figs!

    ReplyDelete
  6. How I miss our fig tree. We are "lucky" to both enjoy them like apples and be supplied by great friends but I know I always appreciate a good recipe to enjoy them even more. Great entry!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Figs are obviously on everyone's mind these days. I just wrote a post on figs and prosciutto. Yes, I'm a fig fan, and this photo makes me salivate for this dish!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Lovely... as always, you make me drool Meeta :-)

    ReplyDelete
  9. i am not a fig fan but ur pics sure are delicious :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Wonderful as always!!! I am not a fig fan... but I am so much in love with ur pics :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. You are killing me Meeta. Most of the fruits I buy, gets eaten as such, before I could cook with them :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. Wow, what gorgeous pics... Just my type of dessert.. (easy that is...) :)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Great post on figs, use, selection etc., as always Meeta! And what a lovely dessert not concealing the flavours of figs themselves (i was actually praying that it shdn't be some baked dessert!). One question tho'... can I omit the wine if i wish or is there anything to substitute with?

    ReplyDelete
  14. That looks incredible. I have difficulty finding good figs where I live. They are expensive and often not up to the mark. This dessert is just a divine way to enjoy them.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Looks delicious. I'm a huge fig fan as well and have one additional tip (a.k.a. lesson learned the hard way) for people new to figs: wash them *really* well. Its not just about getting pesticides and junk off, but also about getting the tree's own sap off. The sap from the fig tree is latexy and surprisingly irritating (your lips will burn) and can ruin otherwise delicious figs.

    ReplyDelete
  16. oh my goodness your entry for SHF is SPECTACULAR, Meeta!! and thank you for providing all the information regarding the health benefits of figs - I used dried figs for my SHF #35 entry, and they're a wonderful source of calcium and fiber; among other nutrients!! as always, the photographs of your latest culinary creation are out-of-this-world!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Great post Meeta, it sounds and looks delicious! I'm going to try out your 'how can your partner refuse you, your dessert and anything else you request' - let you know how I get on okay... hehehe!

    ReplyDelete
  18. What a wonderful tribute to the fig Meeta...you've certainly convinced me to eat more of them! I love your dessert - it looks so rich and tempting!

    ReplyDelete
  19. This looks divine! I tried my first fig not long ago and I fell so in love, I bought a baby fig tree. :) Hopefully it will bear some fruit next year so I can make this!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Beautiful Meeta it was worth the wait, I have yet to taste a fresh fig though I have found some perfectly ripe ones recently. I'll go the "like an apple" route first then move on to the caramel.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I love thee figs. Those look wonderful. Great info on the health benefits of figs, I knew I felt better after I've eaten a couple.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hi there you have a great blog,lovely recipes. Feel free to visit my blog too :)

    Jeena xx

    click here for food recipes

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hi folks - thanks to everyone for your kind comments. They've really motivated me.

    Latha, you can leave the red wine out if you do not want to use it. The red wine simply gives the dessert a full bodied taste.

    Hugs to all!

    ReplyDelete
  24. You are so lucky to have grown up with figs! I only tasted my first fresh fig last year! It is truly an amazing fruit :) Brilliant entry...and thanks for all the fig info! :)

    ReplyDelete
  25. You know what I really love about your desserts, Meeta? They are mouth-watering to view, sound positively scrumptious, yet seem eminently do-able. Thank you! Thank you! -Your fig-loving friend.:)

    ReplyDelete
  26. Figs are the most exotic and sensual fruit of all! Congrats on winning.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Meeta,

    Your photos are amazing!! While searching the web for some free photos of figs for my own blog this week (Husband has my camera for the week), I ran across your blog. I provided a link to your post because your photos and the information you've compiled are so great! I look forward to trying this recipe myself!

    ReplyDelete
  28. My mother has a fig tree right by her front door... I have the hardest time waiting until they are fully ripe before I eat them. We pick them in the morning... and its so hard not to touch them until the end of the day, or the next morning. But this recipe looks well worth waiting for :)

    ReplyDelete
  29. Meeta, I have linked this beautiful photo onto a post of mine about figs - I've acknowledged you and linked you. If it's not OK for me to use, let me know and I'll take it down straight away!!

    I love your blog by the way, I'm definitely going to put it into my blog favourites list!

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for visiting What's For Lunch, Honey? and taking time to browse through my recipes, listen to my ramblings and enjoy my photographs. I appreciate all your comments, feedback and input. I will answer your questions to my best knowledge and respond to your comments as soon as possible.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy your stay here and that I was able to make this an experience for your senses.

Hugs
Meeta