FIG, HONEY & MASCARPONE RING
Some of my closest and dearest friends are from far away places. Recently, friends from Mexico City moved to our small New England town and invited us to their home for dinner. We ate a wonderful poblano pasta dish and a gorgeous fresh fig mold for dessert. Graciously, our hostess shared her secret for a simple, seasonally fresh fruit recipe. Marcona almonds add a crunchy texture and the honey marries the fig and the mascarpone.
With a luscious combination of silky skin, crunchy seeds and velvety flesh, it is no wonder that this ancient fruit is an important ingredient in Middle Eastern, Italian, Spanish, and Greek cuisine. In the first Olympic games, competitors were fed fresh figs to increase their physical strength and speed. With its healing powers and succulent taste, go ahead and give this fig plate a place on the autumn gathering table when a variety of figs are abundant.
Nota bene: Any beautiful, fresh green leaves such as hydrangea, fig, or gaelic leaves may be used for presentation. Use something from the garden if available, otherwise, Whole Foods Market and most flower shops sell food safe greens.
40 fresh figs
1/2 cup mascarpone
1/2 cup Marcona almonds
4 tablespoons honey
Fresh greens for decorating plate
Maldon sea salt flakes
1. Slice each fig in half and remove the stem.
2. Place a fig in a 9-inch jelly roll tin, skin side down. Place another fig next to it, with the small, stem side pointing in the opposite direction. Continue alternating until the first layer is complete.
3. Make a second and third layer with the figs, alternating accordingly, and gently press down. Fill in any holes or spots with figs, so that you have a solid ring.
4. Press down one final time and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 8 hours and up to 24.
5. When ready to serve, remove the plastic, place a serving plate over the mold and flip over. The fig ring should come out easily onto the plate.
6. If using the gaelic leaves for decoration, poke the long stem under the fig tart and pull through.
7. Fill a dish that fits in the center hole with mascarpone cheese. Drizzle honey all around the fig ring and top of the mascarpone. Put some whole almonds over the mascarpone for decoration, and chop the rest and scatter over honeyed figs. Top with a light handed sprinkling of Maldon sea salt flakes.