Call It Anything, So Long As It’s Figs

It’s aston­ish­ing the num­ber of food books that include the word ‘fig’ in the title: A Plat­ter of Figs & Oth­er Recipes by the won­der­ful cook Dav­id Tanis, Roast Figs, Sug­ar Snow by Diana Henry, Realm of Fig and Quince, Girl & the Fig Cook­book, Fig Heav­en, Fab­ulous Figs and From the Lands of Figs and Olives.

Book titles are cru­cial of course. Just think what would have happened to a 20th cen­tury lit­er­ary clas­sic if F. Scott Fitzger­ald had stuck to his work­ing title for The Great Gatsby — the shock­ingly awful Trim­al­chio in West Egg. The worst fig title has to be the revolt­ingly-named Fish and Figs which neither makes me want to cook or even to eat.

But ter­rible names aside, what is it about the fig that drives writers and edit­ors to get it into the title some­how? The fig seems to com­bine great beauty, ancient her­it­age and sim­pli­city, as well as a cer­tain exot­ic mys­tery. I’ve just bought the most glor­i­ous-look­ing figs, partly for their looks alone. I could simply have eaten them on their own and they would have been deli­cious. But a while ago I was giv­en a jar of Earl Grey Tea Jelly, which is a sweet, per­fumed, slightly smoky, clear fruit jam. And its per­fect eleg­ance seemed the ideal part­ner for the figs.


Serves 4

  • 4 figs
  • 200ml soft, fruity red wine
  • 4 dessert spoons Early Grey tea jelly — essen­tially, it’s a sweet apple jelly, so you could try infus­ing a couple of Earl Grey teabags in a fruit jelly for the same effect.
  • 1 vanilla pod split down the middle
  • 8 small slices bri­oche, toasted
  • Home-made cream cheese — make my earli­er recipe, but omit the salt
  • Hand­ful chopped pista­chio nuts

Heat the Earl Grey tea jelly gently in a small fry­ing pan, with the red wine and vanilla pods. This would be the time to add the Earl Grey teabags if you’re using a simple apple jelly. When the liquid is hot and the jelly has melted, remove the teabags and add the halved figs to the pan, cut side up. Spoon the liquid over the figs and place under a mod­er­ate grill for ten to fif­teen minutes. Don’t allow the figs to burn and keep spoon­ing the liquid over them. This will both bake them and intensi­fy their fla­vours by grilling them at the same time.

Remove from the grill and with a slot­ted spoon take out the figs and put them on a serving plate. Put the fry­ing pan on the heat and reduce the liquid by half, to a deli­ciously rich red syr­up. Allow to cool, while you toast the bri­oche and spread with the home-made cream cheese. Sprinkle the bri­oche with the chopped nuts and dec­or­ate with the vanilla pods if you like. Spoon the reduced syr­up over the figs and the bri­oche.

On the sub­ject of ter­rible names, my recipe title isn’t too great either. It’s far too long for a start. So, on reflec­tion, I’m simply going to call it Figs. Heav­en. Always.… and leave it at that.

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22 thoughts on “Call It Anything, So Long As It’s Figs

  1. Per­fect! A won­der­ful recipe and as you may know I have a fig tree, so this recipe will be made, but with some of my home-made crab apple jelly in place of earl Grey Tea jelly.
    Beau­ti­ful pho­tos, I also have a book called Fish and Figs!

  2. Thanks so much, Kar­en. Do let me know how it tastes with crab apple jelly, won’t you? I’m very envi­ous of your fig tree. I’ve been try­ing to grow one for two years and it’s still only 30 cm high. The quinces, though, have pro­duced enough fruit to start a jam fact­ory.

  3. What a deli­cious sound­ing recipe, the Earl Grey Jelly sounds intriguing! Your pho­to­graphs are fant­ast­ic, mak­ing my mouth water.

  4. Lovely of you, A Trifle Rushed — thank you. The Earl Grey tea jelly is a really inter­est­ing ingredi­ent. It’s too sweet for my tastes to have with a scone or on toast, but fas­cin­at­ing to cook with…

  5. Oh this sounds won­der­ful. I’ve nev­er heard of Earl Grey Tea jelly, I must try and find some.

    As for figs — I’ve been grow­ing my fig tree (although in a con­tain­er and I must be doing some­thing ter­ribly wrong) for about 15 years and so far we’ve had a couple of figs three or four times!! I am doing some­thing wrong!

  6. Hi Jen­nifer and thank you. Inter­est­ing to hear that I’m not the only one strug­gling to grow a fig tree. Every­one keeps telling me how easy it is!

  7. The figs we get here in the Middle East are so dis­ap­point­ing — not juicy like the ones in your pic­ture. Iron­ic that the best fig I ever tasted was from a tree in Devon.
    Fin­ished read­ing The Great Gatsby last night (for book club) and nev­er knew the altern­at­ive title! Some­thing to raise at our dis­cus­sion. Your recipe might be just the thing to do with my lack lustre figs.

  8. HI Sally The altern­at­ive title is ter­rible, isn’t it… I hope your lack-lustre figs spring into life!

  9. They look deli­cious and I also have some lacklustre figs (from the lacklustre green­gro­cer, so I sup­pose I shouldn’t be sur­prised!).

  10. Hi Mary
    I have a rose-tin­ted fantasy that all green­gro­cers are spry, jaunty and aproned and that they sell immacu­late, dew-covered lettuces and per­fect pota­toes dus­ted with earth. Ah well.

  11. Figs are very attract­ive but sur­pris­ingly under­used. This recipe looks a very good way to use them. Your pho­tos make them look deli­cious.

  12. I can see that the title of figs heav­en would be rather appro­pri­ate. Now I actu­ally bought 4 (yes four exactly) figs yes­ter­day after­noon and have been think­ing of what to do with them.. I think you solved my dilemma (not for lack of recipes with figs ofcourse) as this just looks divine! Now only to fig­ure out how to infuse a fruit jelly with tea… Mmmm

  13. Hi Simone
    If you heat the wine to evap­or­ate the alco­hol and then add the tea, the hot liquid should release the fla­vour of the Earl Grey and dis­solve the fruit jelly at the same time. Let me know if it works…

  14. It must be 20 years since I read Great Gatsby, I’d for­got­ten that was the name of the island! Gor­geous figs, def­in­itely heav­enly!

  15. Hi Sarah
    I’m so glad to hear you like the look of the figs. It’s almost impossible to ima­gine The Great Gatsby with its oth­er name, isn’t it…

  16. Wow! Not to dis­miss you curi­ous, funny and inter­est­ing post — as a word fiend and a read­er I do find it inter­est­ing, but boy are those roas­ted figs amaz­ing! I nev­er ever eat or bake with figs, ever, and hus­band loves them. Me? Don’t know if I have ever even tasted one but I have wanted to bake or roast them for a dessert just to try and because they are so beau­ti­ful and this is it! Gor­geous!!! Fig heav­en, indeed!

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