Balsamic Glazed Fig with Orange Honey Ricotta and Toasted Hazelnuts

by BiteSizedJessica on September 15, 2010

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.

INGREDIENTS:
(Makes 12)

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

Process:

    1. 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.
    2. Once the milk hits 175-200 degrees, curds will start to form.
    3. Using a mesh strainer, skim the curds out of the pot and into a colander lined with cheesecloth.
    4. 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.
    5. 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

Process:

    1. Reduce the balsamic vinegar until it is nearly a glaze.
    2. Add cream and whisky in to combine.
    3. 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

Process:

    1. In a small sauce pot, caramelize the honey. When it starts to brown, add the orange juice and zest.
    2. 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.
    3. Drizzle warm over the top of the fig and cheese. Top with chopped toasted hazelnuts

© 2010 Jonathan Meter and Jessica Hertle

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

stanley September 15, 2010 at 10:28 am

great pictures and food!

Dorothy September 15, 2010 at 11:56 am

This bite looks scrumptious. And the photography is once again amazing. I can’t wait for the coffee table book 🙂

Jon September 15, 2010 at 11:38 pm

I admire your photography. What sort of light are you using?

BiteSizedJonathan September 16, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Thanks so much Jon. The kitchen in our apartment doesn’t get much light so i usually use one light with a softbox for most of the process shots.

For the bite shots I sometimes also the softbox, sometimes I use a spot grid instead if I want harder light. For most of the bites it’s just one light with some reflectors to shape it around the product, on a couple of them i’ve brought in a second light, but i try and keep it simple.

hungry dog September 16, 2010 at 2:09 pm

This does indeed look like a delicious snack–I have eaten/made something similar before though never quite from scratch like this! Homemade ricotta–impressive. Your photos really are beautiful.

heidi September 22, 2010 at 5:59 am

I have a favorite dish at a local restaurant.
It is figs and sausage in a balsamic sauce.
Your “bite” took that to a new level.

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