The figs at the grocery store had intrigued me for weeks. Although fresh figs are no longer in season, the dried figs resting side-by-side in a snug little wheel promised to impart the essence of a warm, spiced Middle-Eastern desert breeze to my cold Chicago apartment. So, in what might have been an ill-advised decision, I made an entirely fig-themed dinner.
The Chicken with Balsamic-Fig Sauce was fine. I tried to convince myself throughout the meal that I didn’t mind—and even appreciated—the gritty texture of the fig seeds in the sauce. But on the whole, I found this recipe a little strange and unappetizing.
And for dessert—Spiced Figs in Red Wine. I chopped three dried figs in half and dumped them in a saucepan with a cup of red wine, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract, a dash of cinnamon, a sprig of rosemary, a spring of thyme, three peppercorns, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of honey, and 1/3 cup sugar and brought the mixture to a boil. I left it to simmer for 35 minutes, as directed. It smelled wonderful—much like I would imagine the inside of a desert caravan would smell as it trundled across the desert on a hot night.
I will pause here to say that Cooking Light should in no way be held responsible for the utter failure of this dessert. I assume all responsibility for the recipe’s disastrous consequences because I made two very silly mistakes: Cooking Light tells us to let the spiced fig syrup cool and then chill for an hour. I thought this dessert might be nice warm—and I didn’t want to wait for my dessert. So when the 35 minutes were up, I strained the solids and filled two ramekins with vanilla frozen yogurt. Then I poured the steaming wine mixture over the yogurt and placed three chunks of fig on top of each.
Upon further reflection, I should have let the syrup cool. And I should have followed the instructions to scoop the yogurt over the syrup, instead of pouring the syrup over the yogurt. Before I even reached the living room to present this dish to F, the frozen yogurt had melted into a lukewarm, pinkish soup garnished with half-submerged fig chunks. The figs, balancing between the hot liquid and the cold yogurt, had hardened. My glorious, Middle-Eastern desert dessert was overwhelmingly winy, spicy, and gritty—and barely edible.
F politely declared himself full after two bites. But I had made this elegant, delectable dessert and by God, I was going to finish it.And I ate it all.