Saturday, December 24, 2011

Fig Butter

If you like apple butter, you will love fig butter.  Fig butter ups the ante with its spices, red wine, and port.  I first tried it when I undertook these delicious scones, which are really more like a fancy version of cinnamon rolls minus the yeast.  But this time I skipped the scones altogether, doubled the batch of fig butter, and spooned it into jars for Christmas gifts.  It's wonderful on toast and pancakes, and you can just as easily add some to baked goods, such as muffins or your favorite quick bread.

Fig Butter
Adapted from Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole Grain Flours by Kim Boyce


1/2c sugar
2 whole cloves
1 star anise
1c red wine
1/2c port
12oz. dried figs, stems removed
1/4t cinnamon
4oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened


1.  To poach the figs, measure 1/4c water and the sugar into a small heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir the mixture together with a wooden spoon, incorporating the sugar without splashing it up the sides.  Add the cloves and star anise.

2.  Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, until the syrup is amber-colored.

3.  Add the red wine, port, figs, and cinnamon, standing back a bit, as the syrup is hot. Don't panic when the syrup hardens; this is the normal reaction when liquids are added to hot sugar.  Continue cooking the mixture over medium heat for 2 minutes, until the sugar and wine blend.

4.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The figs will burble quietly as they are jostled together by the heat.  They are ready when the wine has reduced by half.  Remove the pan from the stove and cool to room temperature. [I let mine sit overnight.]

5.  Fish our the star anise and cloves.  Pour the cooled figs, with their liquid, into a food processor and puree until smooth, about 1 minute.  Add the softened butter to the fig paste and process until smooth.  The fig butter can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

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