Figs — in all shapes, colors and sizes — are ripening all over the South. And what memories these oh-so-delicious fruits bring to mind.

As a kid, I would crawl under the canopy of my grandmother’s enormous fig tree and pretend I was hidden away from the world. I also remember her blasting off a whole pack of Black Cat firecrackers to shoo the birds away so they could not eat her figs before they were ripe enough to pick. I watched the show from the window, fig preserves and biscuit in hand, of course.

If you don't have a tree, you can find figs at the local farmers markets. When picking or buying figs, look for ones that are plump and soft, but not wrinkled or mushy.

Gobble them up now, or pop the fresh figs into the freezer to enjoy later.

You can cook figs all year long thanks to whole preserved figs, fig preserves or dried figs. You can serve whole preserved figs and syrup on biscuits for breakfast or spread fig preserves on pork for dinner. Today's recipe uses them in a wonderful sauce (with a little bourbon thrown in) poured over double-cream brie, which has a fat content of 60% to 74%. Can you say yum?

For our other recipe, fresh figs are the tasty topping for a lemon mascarpone tart.

Figs are among the most ancient of edible fruits, and the fig tree tradition is continuing in our family with my mother, who has grown quite an impressive tree. While she has yet to employ the firecracker method against the birds, she keeps us supplied with fresh figs in the summer, and her jarred figs with lemon tide me over until the next season. 

Baked Brie with Fig and Bourbon Pecan Sauce

Recipe is by Teresa B. Day.

2 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoons bourbon

8-10 whole preserved or dried figs, halved

½ cup pecans, chopped coarsely

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

8 ounce double cream brie

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Melt butter and brown sugar in a small skillet or saucepan over medium heat.

3. At a simmer, add bourbon, figs and pecans.

4. Turn heat down to medium-low. Stir in vanilla.

5. Skim the white rind off the brie with a cheese plane, and place brie in a small, round baking dish.

6. Pour fig and bourbon mixture on top, mounding it if necessary.

7. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until softened. Serve warm with crackers.

Fresh Fig and Lemon Mascarpone Tart

Makes one tart. Recipe is by Teresa B. Day.

½ cup sour cream

1 cup mascarpone cheese, softened

½ cup confectioners’ sugar

1½ teaspoons lemon zest

1 tablespoon lemon juice

½ package Biscoff ginger cookies

⅛ teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 cup fresh figs, sliced

1 tablespoon honey

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a large tart pan.

2. In a mixer on low speed with a paddle attachment, mix sour cream, mascarpone, confectioner's sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice.

3. Chill covered while you make the crusts.

4. Grind cookies finely with a food processor then pulse in the salt and melted butter. The consistency should resemble damp sand; if not, add one more tablespoon of melted butter.

5. Press crumbs into pan to form crust. Bake for 8 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes.

6. Place crust on plate and fill with mascarpone mixture. 

7. Top with slices of fig and drizzle with honey. Serve or chill to serve later.


Teresa B. Day is a local food writer and author of the “I Eat BR” blog. Contact her at ieatbrla@gmail.com.