I’m always really excited when I find a fig tree – like something in me forgets that I live in England now, and I’ve yet to pick a ripe fig from a tree – even here in the very South of England.
Fortunately a South African friend of mine invited me round to her house last year, and out of her cupboard she brought a jar of green fig preserve, reminding me how, back home, we used to deal with the figs before the birds could get to them.
This is one of many recipes – in reading up on it, I realise that it’s also something the Turkish do, so who knows how it made it’s way into the South African diet – to me it’s definitely a South African staple, so here’s the recipe, should you too have access to a big fig tree that never bears fruit. You’ll never look back.
Two things: it’s a bit fiddly to get the figs to the point of ready, but well worth the effort. Also, I don’t tend to add the spices in the boil. I add them to jars when they’re ready to be bottled up – this means I might have a fig and cardamom, a fig and cinnamon or a fig and clove, slightly different flavours, which keeps it fun and exciting.
Sometimes the figs we find are really big – too big to fit into gifting or ‘single portion’ (aka, enough for one meal) jars. If that’s the case, halve or quarter the figs before adding them to the sugar syrup. It doesn’t look as pretty in the jar, but in reality, when you pull them out to eat on your crackers you would rarely eat a whole one on a single cracker anyway.
Spices (cloves, cinnamon stick or cardamom all work well)
Juice of 1 lemon
Bring a pot of water to boil - just enough to cover the figs. Add the figs and boil for ten minutes. Empty out and refill the pot, bringing the figs to boil and boiling for another ten minutes. This is important, as it's what makes them lose the bitter/unripe taste.
Drain and leave to cool.
Once cool enough to touch, squeeze the figs - there may may be some white liquid that drains out. If there's still a lot of white juice, boil again for ten more minutes, then squeeze again. It seems fiddly, but is well worth it!
In a clean pot, bring the 1.250ml water to boil and add sugar. Once the sugar is dissolved, add the squeezed figs. They will resume their original shape during this process, unless of course, you've cut them.
Add the spices of choice* and boil figs in the sugar syrup for about 25 minutes. Add the lemon juice and boil 5 minutes more.
Pour into sterilised jars, making sure the syrup covers the figs. *I tend to leave out the spices in the previous step and add different spices into the jars at this point so that I have different spice varieties. Close while hot to create a vacuum seal.
Keep in a cool dark place, and transfer to the fridge once opened as it's actually best cold, served with goats cheese and parma ham - or just goats cheese if you're veggie.
I love the unusual white chocolate and rosemary flavour combination. I actually don’t like white chocolate at all, so recommending this is high praise. I have loads of rosemary from my summer on the allotment, so I’m glad for something extra to use it on too.
The sugar in this recipe is flexible. I normally make it with 45g brown sugar, but you can make it super sweet with as much as 90g. If you don’t want to use icing sugar for sprinkling on the tray, you can get away with using more cornmeal, but I prefer the end result with icing sugar.
Keep an eye on the biscotti in the oven as different ovens run differently, but if you want the biscotti really crispy, return it to the oven for the second time. If you want it more chewy, don’t return it to the oven the second time.
Issue 2 of the Disney Cakes and Sweets magazine brought with it some childhood memories for me. I remember making coconut ice as a child. I remember it including boiled sugar, however, which this recipe doesn’t, but maybe I’m confusing it with fudge?
If you take away the serious sugar overdose in this recipe, coconut ice is a brilliant treat to get kids involved in. I haven’t made it in years – not since I joined the Nestle Boycot – but my husband found some Farmlea condensed milk recently and it’s reopened a world of sweet pleasures that were off limits unless I wanted to make my own condensed milk!
Anyway, traditionally coconut ice is pink and white, but I can’t seem to find a reason why. We decided to make ours red (which failed and look more pink than it should) and green to be all Christmassy. In future I’d rather do red and white and green and white. I think it would look better. Anyway, whichever colours you choose, here’s the recipe for you.
The original recipe says to stir all the ingredients together with a wooden spoon. If you're not using a Thermomix®, you're going to have to get in there with both hands. The kids love it. It's sticky and messy and tasty fun.
Pour condensed milk into a large mixing bowl and sift in the icing sugar.
Add the coconut and vanilla essence or extract and mix together until well combined.
If you're having a white layer, spoon half the mix into your baking tray and flatten out pressing down tightly. If you're having two coloured layers, split them into two bowls and add the required colours to each bowl.
Mix well and add to pan, flattening till all the first layer is covered, and it's all flattened.
Place pan in the fridge for six hours or overnight to set.
Once set, turn out and cut the coconut ice into squares.
If you use the brownie pan, cut it while still in the pan. This will make huge slices though, so use a knife to cut again.
For the Thermomix®:
Make your icing sugar first, if you're making your own.
Add all but the colouring and mix on speed 2 for 30 seconds.
Split the mixture into two, put one layer in the pan, then add the food colouring to one.
Layer the next into the pan and leave to set in the fridge for at least 6 hours.
Cut the set coconut ice into squares and enjoy.
Issue 2 also has recipes for a Winnie the Pooh Cake, cream-tea scones, fudge, florentines, 101 Dalmatians cake pops and Winnie the Pooh and friends silicone molds
I’m all about the healthy. We experiment with raw food, drink water kefir, and cook from scratch. I even make my own butter. But to be great 80% of the time, we allow ourselves a break 20% of the time. For the next while, we’ll share recipes from the Disney Cakes and Sweets magazine series. They are not healthy. The name kind of gives it away. But that’s okay. Sometimes we adjust the recipes a little to fit in better with our style, and sometimes I use a Thermomix® instead of following the directions. As part of a balanced diet, we hope you ‘ll join us. We’ll have fun! (If you prefer completely raw, healthy, but still delicious snacks, have a look at Bliss Balls For Beginners)
This recipe features in A Very Thermie Christmas, where you can find it and 50 other recipes perfect for a Thermomix® assisted Christmas. Read more about it here.