A fig dessert you can enjoy any time of year
At this time of year, I have trouble thinking about anything but figs. Such a unique fruit, figs are among my favorite aphrodisiacs. And when I think of figs, I can’t help but thing of the queen of this aphrodisiac fruit, Sondra Bernstein.
Sondra is the proprietor of the acclaimed The Girl and the Fig restaurant in Sonoma, California. She’s also known as the woman to call when you want to know anything about cooking with figs, especially a great fig dessert. So, of course, any time I’m looking to be inspired by a new fig recipe, I call Sondra. And this time, she offered me a fig crisp recipe that’s not only tempting during fig season. Because it uses dried figs, it’s a fig recipe that works all year round.
An easy fruit crisp recipe
The recipe is a fairly straightforward crisp, achievable for even beginning bakers. And I love that the pastry includes the aphrodisiacs of vanilla and walnuts. However where most crisp recipes just call for topping your filling with the pastry, this recipe has you create layers. The end result is something like a fig square or fig bar.
Instead of whole fruit used in many fruit crisp recipes, this calls for a rich, dried fig jam. Best of all, the fruit filling incorporates the aphrodisiac herb of thyme. That addition of thyme elevates the flavor with the complexity of something vaguely savory and herbal. Rather than just giving the taste buds the sweetness they crave, it challenges the palate and mind with the excitement of a new flavor sensation. It is truly an experience for the sensualist.
If you’re making the fig crisp while figs are still in season, Sondra recommends topping the warm crisp with slices of fresh fig for an added layer of texture and that bright, true fig flavor. And if you’re a fan of making homemade ice creams, you might even consider making a fresh fig ice cream to put on top.
For more figasmic recipes, check out Sondra’s cookbook, Plats du Jour; the girl & the fig’s Journey Through the Seasons in Wine Country
This sensual fig crisp recipe by Sondra Bernstein of The Girl and The Fig celebrates layers of aphrodisiac ingredients. The crisp is perfect year-round but in summer, try topping it with halved fresh figs.
- 2 cups walnut halves
- 6 tbsp plus 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 4 1/2 cups flour
- 3/4 lbs butter thinly sliced, 3 sticks
- 3 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 egg yolks
- 2 1/2 lbs dried figs
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 zest lemons grated
- 1 bunch thyme tied with twine
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- In a heavy bottom pot, combine the figs, sugar, lemon zest, thyme and lemon juice and pour in enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes.
Reduce the heat and simmer until the figs are tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the thyme and allow the mixture to cool slightly.
Puree the mixture in a food processor until smooth and set aside until the pastry is ready.
- Preheat the oven to 350’F.
- In a food processor, grind the walnuts (until medium fine) with the 6 tablespoons of sugar and set aside.
- In an electric mixer, mix the ¾ cup sugar, the brown sugar, salt, baking powder and flour until well combined. Add the butter and mix until the mixture clumps. Add the vanilla and egg yolks to the mixture and mix for 40 seconds.
Pack two-thirds of the dough into the bottom of an un-greased pan. Smooth the jam on top then add the last third of the dough in an even layer.
Bake until dough is light brown about 25-30 minutes. Cool before serving.
Fig crisp photo by MJ Wickham
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