Fresh figs are notoriously, problematically fragile. By lightly cooking them in a spiced syrup, you transform delicate fresh figs that last but a day or two into heartier, deeper flavored, longer-lasting treats.
Note that this is a particularly lovely way to make use of less-than-supremely-sweet figs, especially brown turkey figs, since they get cooked in a sweet syrup. Serve the figs and their syrup on their own - or, even better in my humble opinion, over ice cream to great effect. They're also lovely alongside plain, unsweetened yogurt (as breakfast or dessert), spooned onto oatmeal or other hot cereals, or even on pancakes or waffles (I've been known to chop them up a bit in that case). These syrup-cooked figs are also lovely as an accompaniment to meats that benefit from a sweet hit like pork, duck, or lamb.
For more yummy ways to use fresh figs, see 10 Easy Fig Recipes.
- 12 fresh figs
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cinnamon stick
- 2 to 3 whole cloves (optional)
- 2 to 3 whole black peppercorns (optional)
- 1 to 2 whole cardamom pods (optional)
- 2 allspice berries (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
- Bring the sugar and 1 cup water to a simmer in a medium saucepan (it should be large enough to hold all the figs). Stir as needed to dissolve the sugar. Add the half of a cinnamon stick and whatever other spices you choose to use (or all of them!) and simmer the syrup for about 10 minutes.
- Trim off and discard the stems from the figs; put the figs in the syrup. Simmer about 5 minutes. Don't cook them too long, or they will completely fall apart.
- Remove the figs from the syrup and let the figs and syrup cool separately for about 15 minutes (if you leave the figs in, they will soften and start to fall apart a bit, so if that sounds good, leave them in!).
- Once slightly cooled off, strain the syrup, discard the spices, and pour the syrup back over the figs.
Use the figs warm—they are truly luscious at this point—or store, covered and chilled, for up to about 2 weeks (they may well last longer, but the figs will get softer and softer over time, and they will start to fall apart a bit after that). I like to put the figs in a glass jar and pour the syrup over them to store in the fridge—that way I can see them and remember to use them sooner rather than later!