Grilled Fig Sundaes with Balsamic Fudge
Balsamic vinegar is transformed into a fudgy sauce for this sundae that brings savory flavors over to the sweet side.
Use a good-quality balsamic for the sauce: you should enjoy its taste, even though it may be difficult to imagine how it can make such an intensely flavorful dessert sauce. Fini, Giusti, and Lucini are good brands. If a local producer brings balsamic vinegar to your farmers’ market, ask for a sample, and if it’s tasty, use it here!
If you have some extra vecchio (25-year-old or older) aceto balsamico tradizionale on hand, you can save a step by substituting it for the balsamic fudge. For the wine in the balsamic fudge sauce, use either a sweet wine, such as port, Maury, Banyuls, or black muscat, or a young, fruity table wine without much oak or tannin, such as a Gamay or Pinot Noir.
Makes 4 servings
- For the Sauce
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons sweet or dry red wine
- 1 to 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- For the Figs
- 8 branches fresh rosemary, about 6 inches long
- 16 to 20 small to medium fresh figs
- Extra virgin olive oil, for brushing
- Best-quality sea salt, such as gray salt or fleur de sel
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pint premium vanilla ice cream
- 1. To make the sauce, combine the vinegar, wine, and sugar, (1 tablespoon if you are using a sweet wine, or 2 tablespoons if using a dry wine) in a small, nonreactive saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Reduce the heat to a bare simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thick and reduced by about half, 12 to 15 minutes. Set aside to cool (the sauce will thicken as it cools).
- 2. Heat a gas, charcoal, or stove-top grill to medium heat.
- 3. To prepare the figs, pinch your fingers near one end of a rosemary branch and, leaving a small tuft of needles at the top of the branch, pull down along the branch toward the opposite end to remove the needles. Repeat with remaining branches.
- 4. Soak the stripped branches in water to cover for at least 20 minutes to help prevent them from catching fire on the grill. Chop enough of the removed rosemary needles medium-fine to yield about 4 teaspoons, and set aside to use as a garnish (reserve any remaining needles for another use).
- 5. When the grill is hot and the branches are well soaked, trim the stems from the figs, cut the figs in half through the stem end, and line up five small or four larger fig halves, cut side down, on a flat surface. Thread a rosemary branch through the backs of the figs to secure them on the branch. Brush the figs lightly with olive oil on all sides, and sprinkle the cut sides very lightly with salt and pepper.
- 6. Grill the figs, turning once or twice, until they are warm, soft, and beginning to brown in spots, six to eight minutes.
- 7. Scoop the ice cream into four bowls. Drizzle the cooled sauce over the ice cream, and sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Criss-cross two fig skewers over each bowl and sprinkle with the chopped rosemary. Invite guests to push the figs from the skewers over the ice cream. If you have not used all the sauce, serve the remainder in a small pitcher at the table.
Reprinted with permission from Farmers Market Cookbook by Jennie Schacht, Chronicle Books © 2010. Photos by Leo Gong
Grilled Fig Sundaes with Balsamic Fudge was published in the Summer 2010 issue of Edible San Francisco Magazine. © 2010 Edible San Francisco