Hardy varieties of figs are still available this time of year, but they may not be as sweet or full-bodied as the ones available in early autumn. We found a basket of organic figs from California last week and, craving their sweetness, brought them home to pair with cheese for a favorite appetizer.
Their flavor was pale and insipid, however, and so we turned to this simple recipe, which brings richer flavor to fresh figs. With the sweetness of caramelized honey and the piney tang of rosemary, plus a little cracked pepper, these winter figs still made a delicious appetizer.
1 pint fresh figs 1/3 cup honey 4 large sprigs fresh rosemary Fresh cracked black pepper
Heat the oven to 375ºF. Wash and stem the figs. Slice in half and arrange cut side up in a baking dish. Drizzle the honey over top and cut the sprigs in half and tuck between the figs. Grind fresh pepper over everything.
Roast for about 15 minutes, or until the honey is just being to get dark and caramelized. The figs should not be too soft - you need to be able to pick them up with your fingers.
Let cool for about 10 minutes before serving. Arrange on a plate with soft cheese (mild chévre and St. Andre both work well) and crackers. Drizzle the juices and honey left in the baking dish over the figs and cheese. Make open-faced sandwiches on the crackers with cheese, then a fig.