Figs have a very sentimental meaning for me. My grandparents’ farm had an enormous fig tree right by their door step that only gave fruit for a very short time every year, but it was a time we anxiously waited for. For that short time, which lasted about a month, we had more figs than we knew what to do with. I remember they were so sweet that my mom would have to ration them so we didn’t overdose in sugar. Green light skin with a rich red brownish flesh. Perfection.
And although we are a million days away from the cool temperatures of fall, I had to indulge in some figs to celebrate the beginning of September. In fact, I had a whole pint of figs for lunch a couple of days ago, skin and all, just like I used to eat them as a kid.
I brought home all the kinds I could find black mission, brown turkey and sierra figs. The brown turkey turned out to be the ripest and juiciest.
I wanted something rich and nutty to go with them, so I made an unconventional financier batter with the addition of hazelnut, buckwheat flour and some lemon zest to balance the richness. The buckwheat almost gives it a chocolate note to the cake, which I thought was perfect topped with the fresh figs and chopped hazelnuts.
For the few figs I had left, I made a gratin with a light champagne sabayon. I know there is no alcohol allowed during pregnancy, but I had to take a bit. A small bite, but oh so worth it!
And if you are still curious about me, you can read another interview with Nicole Hill Gerulat of “A Little Sussy” as part of her “Friday Features” (one of my favorite weekly columns). You can read it here.
Fig, Hazelnut and Buckwheat Financiers
Makes 4 mini loaves
120 grams egg whites
125 grams sugar
Zest of half a lemon
55 grams hazelnut flour, toasted and cooled
55 grams buckwheat flour
150 grams brown butter, cooled
Fresh figs, quartered
Hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
Place the butter in a small saucepan and cook it until the milk solids start to caramelize on the bottom. It will smell like roasted nuts. Remove from heat and strain it though a fine sieve. Let it cool but do not refrigerate it.
Toast the hazelnut flour at 350F for about 5 minutes and let it cool.
In a bowl, whisk together the egg whites, sugar and lemon zest. Add the buckwheat flour, toasted hazelnut flour and whisk. Add the cooled brown butter and whisk.
Refrigerate the mixture for about 4 hours. Place the batter in a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip and pipe the batter into greased molds. Bake at 350F for about 22 minutes.
Place the figs on top and sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts.
Fig and Champagne Sabayon Gratin
1 pint fresh figs, halved
6 egg yolks
100 grams sugar
150 ml champagne
200 grams heavy cream, soft peak
Maple sugar to caramelize
To make the sabayon, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and champagne together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Place the bowl over a double boiler. Cook the sabayon while constantly whisking until it thickens. Transfer to bowl to the mixer and whip until cool. Refrigerate for about 2 hours.
Fold the soft peak heavy cream into the sabayon base.
Place the halved figs in a heatproof dish. Spoon the sabayon on top and sprinkle with maple sugar. Caramelize with blow torch or under broiler.