When fresh figs are ripe and rich with honeyed flavor, spend just a few minutes in the kitchen to prepare for the holiday season ahead. Use inexpensive brandy. After a month, the liquid transforms to a syrupy, sweet sip, sensational with a cookie or a bit of cheese. There's a bonus, too. The figs will be infused with the citrusy, herbal brandy, ready to slice thin and serve over ice cream or match slim wedges with creamy blue cheese.—Cathy Barrow
This recipe is from columnist and cookbook author Cathy Barrow, and was originally published in the Chicago Tribune.
The figs in brandy need to sit for at least 30 days in a dark cupboard. The fig brandy can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 year; the brandied figs can be refrigerated for up to 1 month.
Brown Turkey, Black Mission and other fig varietals are suitable for the accompanying recipe. Look for firm, fresh fruit with no signs of bruising or mold.
- 9 to 12 plump, ripe fresh figs (stems trimmed), preferably organic
- 1 lemon, seeded and thinly sliced, preferably organic
- 3 fresh thyme sprigs
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups brandy
Step 1: Pierce 9 to 12 fresh figs (4 or 5 times each) with a sharp knife. Place the figs in a wide-mouth quart glass jar with a tight-fitting lid, alternately layering in lemon slices (from 1 lemon) and 3 sprigs fresh thyme. Pack firmly and fill the jar, being careful not to split open any of the figs; sliced or broken fruit will make the brandy murky.
Step 2: Pour 1 1/2 to 2 cups brandy over the figs to fill the jar. Seal and place the jar in a dark cupboard and make a note on the calendar: Fig Brandy Ready in 30 days.
Step 3: After 30 days, pour the brandy through a fine-mesh strainer into a jar or gift bottle. The brandy will keep for 1 year. Serve chilled in small glasses.
Step 4: Discard the lemon slices and thyme. Store the brandied figs in a covered container in the refrigerator. The figs will keep for a month.