Monday, September 24, 2007
Rosemary-Threaded Figs with Cashew Cream
We threw a tapas-and-games party on Saturday night and needed a not-too-rich dessert to round out a decadent spread. We made our household gazpacho and three tapas (tortilla espanola, marinated semisoft cheeses with garlic & rosemary and soft cheeses with honey) from Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America, plus a guest brought gorgonzola-stuffed dates wrapped in bacon. So we created this fall incarnation of a dessert we love to make with whatever fruit is in season. (We've also made a summer version with grilled peaches and a blueberry reduction, and a Christmas version with grilled pears and an apple cider reduction).
For the cashew cream:
1 cup raw cashews
4 cups water
2 tablespoons agave nectar (or maple syrup or honey)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the threaded figs:
18-20 fresh black or purple figs
6 branches fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons butter or Earth Balance
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon each cinnamon, allspice and cardamom
For the delicious dessert assembly:
Soak the cashews in 4 cups of water for as long as you can--at least 3 hours, but they'll get softer (and achieve a creamier texture) if you soak them for longer. You can also soak the rosemary branches if you want--they only need about 20 minutes. This will keep them from burning in the oven, but I forgot to do this once and it wasn't catastrophic.
When you're ready, remove cashews from water with a slotted spoon and place in the food processor with 1/2 cup of the soaking water, agave/maple syrup/honey, cinnamon and vanilla extract. Blend until smooth--you can add more water as necessary, but you want this to have the consistency of a pudding rather than a sauce.
Preheat the oven** to broil. Thread 3-4 figs onto each rosemary branch. Melt butter and honey in the microwave for about a minute and mix in cinnamon, cardamom and allspice. Brush figs with butter-honey mixture and place in the broiler on a foil-lined cookie sheet:
Broil about 3-4 minutes on each side, brushing with more butter-honey marinade mixture halfway through. Serve figs with a dollop of cashew cream. If you're serving more people than you have rosemary branches, you can snip branches between figs with kitchen scissors to create individual servings.
**We used the broiler because we don't have a grill, but these would be delicious grilled.