Here’s a simple baked fig dessert based on a recipe from Donatella Pavoncello’s Dal 1880 ad oggi: la cucina ebraica della mia famiglia. Pears can be prepared the same way: peel, halve, and core, then poach in syrup or wine with strips of lemon zest or vanilla bean. They will take longer to cook than the figs.
Arrange whole figs in a deep, wide saucepan. Cut a small slit at the top of each fig and insert a lemon zest strip into each slit. Sprinkle the sugar over the figs. Add water, or part water and part rum, to a depth of ¼inch in the pan. Put a vanilla bean in the center of the pan.