Six years ago my mother was given a little fig sprig that her friend’s grandmother brought back from a fig tree in Italy. Today this fig tree is 12 feet tall and produces hundreds of figs each year.
The image many people have of a fig is a dried-up shriveled nugget of fiber that is consumed by the geriatric community to get things “moving”. My view of figs has completely changed since I have spent some quality time with the fig tree. When you cut open a fresh fig it is one of the most beautiful fruits out there (in my opinion). It is not brown and shriveled at all. To the contrary it has a vibrant red center full of little blobules (spellchecker says this is not a word, but I think it should be) surrounded by a pale green and aubergine skin.
It’s amazing how many people have never had a fresh fig before (I am sure the exorbitant price doesn’t help). If you are one of these people I suggest you remedy it immediately. I don’t want to get your hopes up but it is a very different experience than eating a dried fig (which I still like).
With dozens of ripe figs waiting to be picked each day it’s hard to keep up with eating them all (if you did it might get things “moving” a little faster than you’d like), so I decided to make ice cream. I also needed to make a dessert for my friend Scott’s housewarming party so this was the perfect solution. After my last disaster with a horrible ice cream recipe I thought it would be a good idea to get it from a reputable source. In my search I kept reading wonderful reviews about the fresh fig ice cream found in the book A Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz. Unfortunately it was sold out at every bookstore within 10 miles of me, so I drove out to the one store that had it (before some other ice cream lover could get it . . . sorry if that was you.
The recipe was easy and and the process was delicious. In fact, when I tasted the figgy jam part of the recipe I was in heaven. If you know me, you know I am a serious foodie and I get pretty excited about it (there is always something to look forward to!). This was a different level of excitement altogether. The best way I can describe it is like someone meeting their soul mate and never being able to live without them . . . but maybe not on such a dramatic scale. I now feel the need to have a fig tree wherever I live for the rest of my life (because buying fresh figs all the time is quite an investment). As if the figgy jam part wasn’t good enough the ice cream came out even better. I was nervous that it would be too hard (homemade ice cream has a way of doing that) but I think it came out a perfect consistency. Now I am not trying to toot my own horn here (I hope it isn’t coming off that way), I am tooting the figs’ horn and A Perfect Scoop‘s horn. Toot! Toot!
This was initially going to be two posts (since I am still behind by two) because after the ice cream I made a flourless chocolate-hazelnut cake (my friend Maya has a gluten allergy). Unfortunately I was in a bit of a rush to get it done and did not take enough time to get good photos of the process. The cake came out well though and I have included a photo below. I don’t think anyone else had the “soul mate” experience I had, but I think it was well received and I didn’t see any leftovers in anyone’s plate, so that’s always a good sign.