Figs with Wild Thyme Honey in Red Wine and Lapsang Souchong Custard

The flavors of wild California, Provence, and refined China are in this dessert, so an orange-flower water or green Chartreuse custard sauce would also work well.

The figs taste even better if made the day before.

Ingredients

  • 16 whole dried figs
  • 1 (750 ml) bottle red wine, fruity Zinfandel type
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup wild thyme honey, or other good honey, like leatherwood
  • 2 tablespoons Lapsang Souchong tea leaves
  • 1 recipe custard
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon rose water

Method

Put the figs and red wine in a nonreactive saucepan, and soak for 1 hour. Add the thyme, sugar, and honey, and simmer until the figs are tender, about 1 hour. Strain, reserving the figs, and boil down the cooking liquid until it is reduced to cup. Stem the figs and put them back in the reduced wine sauce and let them cool.

Put the tea leaves in a bowl and pour ¼ cup boiling water over them. Steep for 5 minutes. Add the custard to the bowl, stir, and let marinate 1 hour. Strain the custard and discard the tea leaves.

To serve, whip the cream and fold it into the custard. Put the figs on plates. Pour the wine syrup over the figs, sprinkle the figs with the rose water, and then spoon some Lapsang Souchang custard cream on top of the figs.

Variation

Poach the dried figs in sweet wine like a Muscat, and serve with Roquefort cheese mashed with a quarter of its volume of double cream or fresh ricotta. Or use fresh figs, cover them in cardamom-flavored honey (1 teaspoon ground cardamom to 1 cup honey) and bake them for 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Serve at room temperature with a cold, sweetened black-pepper sabayon.

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