Figs take me back to when I was little girl. They take me back to summers at my grandfather's farm. We had two big fig trees. I remember spending a lot of time climbing up and down those trees. I remember my mom making slow cooked figs in a light syrup, and fig marmalade. It's still one of her favorite things to date. I also remember volunteering to get the figs from the tree, it was an adventure for a 7 years old!
And what comes to my mind more than anything is that I did not like figs at all. To be completely honest, I only started liking figs very recently. So for me, experimenting with this beautiful fruit is something rather novel.
I wanted to create a new dessert for the dinner parties I've been hosting, and figs came to mind as one of the possibilities. This is how this dessert came to life. After some adjustments, I think I found a nice balanced and flavorful summery dessert! And fairly easy to make!!
For the Honey Roasted Figs
Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
Cut the figs in quarters or eights depending on their size. Place them in a baking tray and sprinkle them over with the honey.
Roast for about 10 minutes.
Transfer onto a plastic container, and keep the cooking liquid!
Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius.
Line a baking tray with parchment paper or a silpad if you have one. I used a 40 x 30 cm baking tray.
Grind the walnuts until you obtain a thin powder. You can use a hand blender or a food processor. If you have neither, you can put the walnuts in a bag (even better if you have a plastic piping bag) and crush them using a rolling pin. If you have little chunks of walnuts, it's not a big deal. I used a hand blender, and wasn't able to grind them as finely as I would have liked, but all was good anyway :).
Melt the butter and let it cool down.
Beat the grinded walnuts, the powdered sugar, the flour and the eggs together, until they have grown in volume and thickened in consistency. You can either do it by hand using a whisk or a stand mixer using the whisk attachment (during 10 minutes approximately).
Mix in the butter to the batter. When incorporating the butter to the batter: add a little of the batter to the cooled down butter. Mix together and pour back into the batter. Mix until combined.
Beat the egg whites and towards the end add the sugar to stiffen the egg whites and turn your mixer to maximum speed. (In French this is called "serrer" the egg whites). You'll notice that it is when you add the sugar that the whites really grow in volume and become smoother. When you lift your whisk the whites should form a stiff peak.
Add 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter and mix them in. Fold in the remaining egg whites to the batter using a spatula. This should be done carefully!
Transfer the batter onto the baking tray and spread it evenly using an offset spatula. (If you don't have one, any spatula will do!)
The important thing when spreading the batter is to do it as quickly as possible! You don't want to go over and over the batter because you'll obtain a flat biscuit! It is the egg whites that make it airy, and too much manipulation of the batter will break them down resulting in a dense biscuit!
Bake for 7 minutes or until golden. Every oven is different so stay close and observe your biscuit.
Transfer onto a rack and cool down.
For the Mascarpone Cream
Note: You should prepare it when you are ready to assemble the dessert!
Make a Chantilly cream by whipping the cream, the powdered sugar and the vanilla bean together.
Add 1/3 of the Chantilly to the mascarpone and whisk until it has loosened. Fold in the rest of the cream.
Transfer the mascarpone cream onto a piping bag. Or not if you don't have one. :)
For the Finishing Touches
Flip the biscuit over a piece of parchment paper. Use the edge of the rack or a backing tray to help unmold the biscuit (i.e. remove the parchment paper it was baked on).
On a cutting board, portion the biscuit into rectangles (approximately 10cmx3cm) using a knife.
Pipe the mascarpone cream onto each biscuit (or spread it using a spatula or the back of spoon).
Top off with 4 pieces of figs. Drizzle some of the cooking liquid on top.
You can also make this into one big dessert! No need to portion the biscuit. Just cut off the edges to make it nicer!