A Very Figgy, Quick Fig Jam

by Caterina Borg, Good Food Gourmet on October 8, 2012

Anyone who knows me knows that I love all kinds of fruit… and I especially love figs. My favorites are the Mission figs, but I will eat just about any kind. Growing up at home, my dad would always buy me the imported dried figs from Greece that are packed in tight rings on a string and are sold in the international grocery stores. We always had them on the dessert table at home and each time a new pack was opened, they rarely lasted the day…

On my last trip to Australia in the the 90’s, my aunt gave me a going away gift to enjoy on the long trip back to the USA…I thought it was something she had cooked or baked for me, but when I opened the container I grinned from ear to ear. Lovingly nestled together were four of the largest figs I had ever seen. The figs were from a tree in her backyard whose fruit I had enjoyed while I was there…but these ones were as big as my fist. The skin was thin and just beginning to burst open with sweetness. I still remember how delicious they were…plump, juicy with a lovely delicate scent. The house and the tree are long gone, but I will always remember those simple pleasures I enjoyed from that year’s bounty.

When I’m lucky enough to get fresh figs, and even more lucky to have any left over after I feast on them, I like to make jam. I’m not talking about something you would have to bottle for an entire season…that’s too much trouble for me…I mean a quick jam that can be enjoyed over a few days until it’s gone.

This is so delicious over ice cream, on fresh baked bread or swirled into cake batter and then baked. It’s very easy to make and comes together very quickly. In addition to the figs, sugar and a little bit of cinnamon, I like to use a good brandy and a little bit of a very good quality unsweetened chocolate. By using the chocolate, my intention is not to add a chocolatey flavor to the jam, but rather a depth of flavor that creates a truly incomparable product. In commercial baking, unsweetened chocolate is called chocolate liquor, and when you use a high quality unsweetened chocolate, it really tastes as though you have added good liquor!

If you’re a fig lover like me, this is something you must try…

Fig Jam (makes about 1 cup)

1 ½ cups mission figs (about 10, rinsed and quartered)

1 cup brandy (you can use orange juice, water or a combination of them all)

½ cup sugar

1 tablespoon light corn syrup (prevents crystallization)

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon high quality unsweetened chocolate

Add the brandy, sugar, corn syrup, cinnamon and figs to a small pot.

Heat on high until the mixture comes to a rolling boil, then turn down to a low to moderate heat and cook it all together until the figs have completely broken down and the mixture has thickened, about 30 minutes.

At this point strain the jam into a small bowl and remove as much liquid as you can.Using a wooden spoon, stir the pulp that remains in the strainer until you create a thick paste.

As more and more liquid is removed with the wooden spoon the pulp will become more and more of a paste. Essentially we have taken the little bit of pulp that remained and processed it with the wooden spoon, ensuring that the jam will not be too lumpy or chunky. Now you can either throw out the pulp or add it back to the jam to add a little more body. If you would rather use a hand held bermixer to smooth out the jam, you can definitely do that too. While the jam is still warm, add in the chocolate and stir until it has melted. Allow it to cool completely, then cover, refrigerate and enjoy on just about anything!

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