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Roasted Figs with Vanilla Crème Fraîche

Roasted Figs with Vanilla Crème Fraîche
Figs have two short seasons, one in summer and one in autumn, so act quickly when you see them in the market. For this easy dessert, choose perfect firm but ripe specimens as they must hold their shape in the oven.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 16 firm but ripe figs
  • 1 Tbs. vanilla extract, or to taste
  • 1 cup crème fraîche
  • 8 fresh mint sprigs

Directions:

In a small saucepan over high heat, combine the sugar and water. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the vanilla bean and boil for 3 minutes, then remove from the heat. Cover and let stand at room temperature for at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours. Remove the vanilla bean and discard. (The syrup can be stored in a tightly covered jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.)

Preheat an oven to 500°F.

Using a paring knife and starting from the stem end, cut each fig into quarters about three-fourths of the way through, leaving the bottom intact. Place the figs in a single layer in a shallow baking dish. Pour about 2/3 cup of the sugar syrup over and around the figs. Roast until the figs are tender yet still hold their shape, 6 to 7 minutes. Just before the figs are ready, in a small bowl, combine the vanilla and crème fraîche and stir to mix.

Remove the figs from the oven and transfer them to a platter. Fill the center of each fig with a dollop of the crème fraîche. Garnish with the mint sprigs and serve immediately.
Serves 8.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Brunch Entertaining, by Janeen Sarlin (Time-Life Books, 1999).