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Figs Stuffed with Marzipan (Figues Sèches au Marzipan)

Figs Stuffed with Marzipan (Figues Sèches au Marzipan)
When people think of the foods associated with Provence, the olive surely comes first to mind. Second would likely be garlic, though some say it is the fig. Fig trees are nearly as dominant in the landscape as olive trees. The recipe for these little marzipan-stuffed delicacies from the papal city of Avignon includes two versions, a moister one for use as a dessert and a sweeter and stickier one for use as a sweetmeat to accompany coffee.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 3 orange zest slices
  • 18 to 20 dried figs, moister if for dessert
      and drier if for a sweetmeat
  • 4 Tbs. Cognac or Armagnac
  • 1 package (6.5 oz.) marzipan paste

Directions:

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the water, sugar, cloves and orange zest. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the figs and 3 Tbs. of the Cognac. Reduce the heat to very low and simmer gently for 2 hours to plump the figs. Let cool for 30 to 45 minutes.

Remove the figs from the cooking liquid, reserving the liquid. Using a small knife, make a slit at the center of each fig. Using a small spoon or your fingers, press 1 scant tsp. of marzipan into each fig, smoothing the surface of the marzipan. Pinch the slit closed but leave a little marzipan visible. Return the figs to the liquid in the saucepan. Stir in the remaining 1 Tbs. Cognac, mixing well, and then stir the figs to coat them with the liquid. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the figs to a bowl.

To serve the figs as a dessert, boil the liquid in the pan, stirring often, until it is a good sauce consistency, then pour over the figs. To serve the figs as a sweetmeat, reduce the liquid to a thick syrup, stirring constantly. Transfer the figs and syrup to a bowl or jar, cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks. Remove from the refrigerator at least 1 hour before serving.
Serves 6 as a dessert, 10 as a sweetmeat.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Savoring Series, Savoring Provence, by Diane Holuigue (Time-Life Books, 2002).