It is 104 degrees out and while my house is air conditioned, my brain is not. So even though I am in the cool indoors, my brain remembers just a little while ago when I wasn’t, and it has forbidden me to light the oven or the stove. I have learned that obeying my brain keeps peace in the body-mind continuum; I will therefore move as little as possible until the temperature drops below 90F.
This exquisite dish, made from just five ingredients, requires appropriately little effort. Yet it’s a powerful anti-weather device: when that first shock of sweet musky fig and cream hits your mouth, all the salty sluggishness of the overbearing air flies off; sly black pepper kicks in with just enough firepower to keep the demon heat at bay a little longer.
Balsamic Macerated Figs with Black Pepper Mascarpone
Serve these as an appetizer or dessert: either way, you’ll love the intriguing combination of sour, sweet and spicy .
6 fresh ripe figs
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup mascarpone at room temperature
1 teaspoon heavy cream
1/8-1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1. Cut each fig in six wedges, leaving it intact at the bottom so the fig opens like a star-shaped flower. Place the open figs on a plate and brush the cut surfaces with the balsamic. Let sit at least 15 minutes.
2. Combine the mascarpone, cream and black pepper in a bowl. Taste and adjust the black pepper as needed.
3. Carefully transfer the figs to a serving platter. Brush the juices that have leached out of the fruit back on the figs.
4. Place a dollop of the mascarpone mixture in the center of each fig and serve.
Makes 6-8 servings