If your only experience with figs is the artificial flavor of a certain cookie, let me reassure you that fresh figs taste nothing like that sugary filling.
My wish is that your first taste of a fresh fig is as perfect as mine: my husband and I were tasting wines at a small, family run business that specialized in ports. The owner, enthusiastic about his stock, gave us samples of everything. Then, in a spurt of pure, genuine host geniality, he brought out a box of figs, freshly picked from his tree earlier that morning. With a sharp knife, he cut them in half, smeared them with bleu cheese, and passed them around. Sweet but not sugary due to a slightly vegetal undertone-- I was in love at first bite.
Up in the northern part of the U.S., figs are in season during the late summer and fall months (late spring through early summer for the southern half.) Since the color of figs varies by type (colors range from purple-black to spring green, to golden yellow), choose figs by their texture-- they should be soft but not mushy. Store them in a cool refrigerator and they'll last for 3-5 days, but how could you resist not devouring them on the spot? With these recipes in your back pocket, I doubt you'll have any willpower to resist.
Fig and Mascarpone Stuffed French Toast
Trim and quarter 1 pint of figs (I used Black Mission.)
Toss the figs in a medium bowl with 2 tablespoons dry Marsala wine, 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, then set aside.
Heat a griddle or large pan over medium high heat.
In a shallow baking dish, whisk together 3 large eggs, 2 cups of whole milk, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, a pinch of salt, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
Spread about 1 tablespoon of mascarpone cheese on each of 8 slices of brioche bread.
Top 4 of the slices with a heaping tablespoon of the fig mixture then sandwich them with the remaining slices. Soak the sandwiches on both sides in the egg mixture.
Add a tablespoon of butter to the heated pan or griddle and reduce heat to medium low. When the butter has melted, add 2 of the sandwiches and toast until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining sandwiches.
Cut each sandwich into quarters on the diagonal and serve warm, topped with remaining fig mixture, a sprinkle of toasted hazelnuts, and drizzle with honey.
Make a brown sugar simple syrup by boiling together equal parts light brown sugar and water then set aside to cool.
Cut 1 fresh fig into pieces then add to a cocktail shaker with 3 oz of your favorite bourbon and 1/2 oz brown sugar simple syrup.
Muddle then add ice and shake. Add two dashes of bitters to a martini glass then strain the contents of the shaker into the glass. Cheers!
Makes 1 cocktail.