Like many people, I’m partial to eating ice cream all year round but serving it with fresh berries in winter doesn’t appeal much.
I’m also very fond of dried fruits, in particular figs. Figs have always tasted a bit Christmassy to me, probably because as a child growing up, Christmas was the only time we had those sticky, sugared, dried figs that came arranged snugly in an oblong box.
They were an absolute luxury to my 6 year old mind and today, I’m immediately drawn to any recipe containing figs, dried or fresh.
This simple compote is an old recipe and one of my favorites; the magical combination of flavors come together to create something that tastes much greater that the sum of it’s parts. Wintery and Christmassy-tasting, it makes the perfect topping for good vanilla ice cream and cheesecake, or it could be used as a filling for some little flaky pastry thing.
Anyway, this only takes a few minutes to make but do allow it to macerate in the fridge overnight so that the flavors really develop.
This compote keeps well for several days, covered in the fridge. Leave in the lemon zest, cinnamon stick and chunks of ginger until you’re ready to serve and bring it to room temperature first.
COMPOTE OF DRIED FIGS with LEMON ZEST & FRESH GINGER
(Enough for 4-6 people as a topping for ice cream)
9 oz (250g) of dried calimyrna or smyrna figs
One stick of cinnamon
2 long strips of pared lemon zest (no white pith) plus 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
A chunk of fresh ginger about 1 inch (2.5cm) long, peeled and quartered
1 oz (25g) of sugar
10 fl oz (275ml) of water
Snip off and discard the stalks then halve the figs. Put them in a small saucepan with the cinnamon stick, ginger, lemon zest, lemon juice and the water.
Bring slowly to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 5-6 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the figs to a bowl, leaving the cinnamon, ginger and zest in the water then add the sugar, stirring well until the sugar dissolves. Bring it to a rapid boil and continue to boil until the liquid becomes syrupy and has reduced by about half.
Pour everything over the figs in the bowl and allow it to cool, then cover and chill in the fridge overnight, or up to 4 days.
Bring the compote to room temperature and remove the zest and spices just before serving.