Fresh figs are just so ridiculously good. I ate my first fresh fig when I was 20 and studying abroad. My roommate and I had a few friends stay with us and they cooked us dinner as a thank you. That day they’d gone to an open market and bought a bunch of fresh figs and prosciutto. For dinner they wrapped the figs and some fresh mozzarella in prosciutto drizzled it with olive oil. I will never forget that first incredible bite of the juicy fig and salty meat. At the time, I actually had never even seen a fresh fig and had no idea that the version I was familiar with from home was actually the dried version. That first taste of a fresh fig was a realization I will never forget. Now whenever I see fresh figs, I still regard them with a little bit of wonder and awe.
Jam, cheese and nuts are pretty much the best happy hour snacking treat I can think of, and that is where I got the idea for this fig bite. I wanted the cheese to be special but simple, and so we decided to make some homemade ricotta. I thought the addition of orange to the ricotta would be a nice tangy complement to the mellow cheese. The chopped toasted hazelnuts add a little texture, crunch and salt to the bite. This little fig is awesome with a glass of wine and a fall happy hour.
1 pint of black mission figs
½ cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
½ cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp butter
2 oranges, zested
Small bunch of thyme, chopped
For the Ricotta:
7 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
4 tbsp lemon juice
1 ½ tsp salt
- In a large, non-reactive pot, bring milk, cream, lemon juice and salt to a simmer. Do not let the milk come to a hard boil.
- Once the milk hits 175-200 degrees, curds will start to form.
- Using a mesh strainer, skim the curds out of the pot and into a colander lined with cheesecloth.
- Allow curds to drain out any excess liquid. The longer you allow the curds to drain, the drier and firmer your ricotta will be. My curds were quite moist when I removed them from the liquid, so I let them drain for about 45 minutes before transferring them to a bowl.
- When curds have drained for desired amount of time, transfer to a bowl and cover. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before using.
For the Balsamic Glaze:
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp heavy cream
- Reduce the balsamic vinegar until it is nearly a glaze.
- Add cream and whisky in to combine.
- Whisk in butter until sauce has emulsified. Coat figs in the glaze.
For the Orange Honey Glaze:
2 tbsp honey
1/8 c fresh orange juice
1 orange, zested
2 tbsp butter
- In a small sauce pot, caramelize the honey. When it starts to brown, add the orange juice and zest.
- Stir in the juice and zest and let cook for 30 seconds. Add the butter and melt, swirling the pot until it is completely dissolved.
- Drizzle warm over the top of the fig and cheese. Top with chopped toasted hazelnuts
© 2010 Jonathan Meter and Jessica Hertle