Figs, what a find. A small tray of baby beauties waiting for a deserved dessert. And there was I thinking figs were a ghost of autumn past when they’re the tasty bite of winter present. Amaretti left over, forgotten in the cupboard among the extra festive purchases, and a dash of an aged balsamico make the diminutive fruits into melting moments.
The fig trees are almost bare right now revealing silvery bones of twiggy branches. But fig is the hardiest of Mediterranean fruit trees, clinging to cliffs, sprouting out of rubble walls, flourishing despite the lack of soil on our windswept Maltese terrain. Even in early January, they are tossing up between budding for a very early spring or shedding the last of autumn’s leaves. The fig is rarely bare. I love its structure in every season.
After the rich, opulent desserts of the festive season, it’s time to return to simple pleasures. The boxed baby figs are succulently ripe, unlike the few wild ones I spotted on the local trees. They need only a hint of wintry flavours – the zest of lemon perhaps, cinnamon or nutmeg if you fancy, and some crumbled Amaretti. A short 10-minute roast is enough to warm them through and crisp the tops. No cream, no extras to ruin their sweet, slightly musty flesh. They are enough for a small sweet treat alongside a strong espresso after a weekday supper.
- 6 figs, nice and ripe
- 2 tbsp ground almonds
- 1 tbsp crumbled Amaretti, plus more to sprinkle on top
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp honey
- Pre-heat oven to 180°C.
- Wash and pat dry the figs.
- Slice the figs lengthways then scoop out the flesh with a teaspoon, making sure you don’t damage the skin shell. Chop or mash up the flesh and place in a bowl.
- Add the ground almonds, tablespoon of crumbled Amaretti, honey and balsamic vinegar and mix together well.
- Fill the fig skins with the mashed flesh mix and then place them on a baking tray.
- Sprinkle over more crumbled Amaretti biscuits and the chopped zest of a lemon. If you wish, a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg too.
- Roast for 10 minutes until the tops are golden and slightly crisp.
- Serve warm. Ideal alongside after dinner coffees as a small treat.
- This dessert can be made earlier in day and served after reheating (cover with foil) at a lower oven temperature for around 10 minutes.
All images © Liz Ayling 2013
The green Damask background is a luxurious wallpaper by Thibault. The range is available in Malta from Camilleri Paris Mode whom we’d like to thank for the kind loan of the sumptuous samples book for our recent photo shoots.