Fig Semifreddo, a Magic Dessert.

I have a backlog of good recipes to share with you, dear reader, as I’ve been rather quiet on that front for a while. Thanks to a flurry of small luncheons and dinner parties, I was compelled to lift my game and search out dishes that might even excite my own jaded appetite. In sharing them with you, I also benefit by adding them to a safe place for the future, my recipe file. Most of these new recipes involve seasonal fruits, especially figs.

The fig season has given us one month of sweet eating. Every day I take an old hand-woven basket down to the orchard and carefully select a few ripe specimens. They continue to ripen on the bench for another day, but the window of opportunity passes quickly. Other than scoffing them down with some soft gorgonzola dolce and toasted walnuts, I’ve been hunting and collecting the best fig recipes for desserts, jams and sweet/savoury salads. 

We have two varieties in our garden- the commonly grown Brown Turkey fig and the green-skinned White Adriatic fig, sometimes called the strawberry jam fig, in reference to its sweet jelly like red flesh, excellent flavour and flesh quality. Both have their place, although I have a preference for the Adriatics. The leaves make great serving platters, or are useful for covering up various body parts or embarrassments. They are easy to grow, don’t need pollinating or pruning, but prefer a non windy site and plenty of water in late Spring and Summer. If you have room, I recommend that you plant one, if only for the thrill of making figgy desserts.

Fig semifreddo with poached figs and amaretti biscuit.

I’ve only recently discovered the joys of making semifreddo since the demise of my ancient ice cream maker. I might just stick with this faster and easier concoction in the future. The following recipe is a beauty, especially for those who are blessed with a productive fig tree as well as lots of home laid eggs.

Semifreddo di Fichi /Fig Semifreddo

Ingredients

350 g fresh figs
125 g brown sugar
7 egg yolks
100 g caster sugar
350 ml whipping cream
3 tsp fresh lemon juice

Method

  • Wash the figs, remove the stems (keep the skin on) and finely dice. Place them in a non-stick pan on a high heat, stirring constantly. After a few minutes add the brown sugar. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and allow the figs and brown sugar to caramelise for around 20 minutes until you have a jam-like consistency.
  • Stir in the lemon juice and remove the pan from the heat to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, add the 50 ml of cream and gently work it into the jam.
  • In a stand mixer with whisk attachment, whip the egg yolks on high for 10-15 minutes until they triple in volume. Add the caster sugar slowly, ensuring it is well mixed with the eggs. The mixture should be quite thick.
  • In a clean bowl, whip the rest of the cream to soft peaks. Then slowly fold the cream into the egg mixture, being careful not to lose the volume.
  • Gently fold the fig jam into the cream.
  • Place a large sheet of cling wrap over a plastic or metal container. I used a bread loaf tin, measuring 24cm L by 11 cm W and 10 cm D. Pour the cream into the container, filling to the top, leaving the cling wrap to hang outside each side. Cover well with tin foil and place in the freezer for at least 12 hours. You can make this dessert a day or so ahead.
  • About 10-15 minutes before serving, take the tin out of the freezer and flip it upside down onto a long tray before slicing it.

Adapted from a recipe found on Mondo Mulia

Make a compote of lightly poached figs. Remove the figs after a few minutes of poaching then reduce the sauce then strain it. Serve with the semifreddo.

Poaching liquid for figs.

  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons brown or granulated sugar
  • ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeded (optional)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 8 or so figs

Further reading on figs here and here.

33 thoughts on “Fig Semifreddo, a Magic Dessert.”

  1. Eating with my eyes too. I have three fig trees that produce nothing. Zero. I have tested the soil, adjusted the water, fed them, not fed them, potted them, planted them out, you name it. I have seen them growing and producing fruit in the most deprived of circumstances here in Alice, so I know it can be done, but not by me. I can grow them, but I cannot get the trees to produce fruit. Please enjoy some for me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Ardys that is so sad to hear. Maybe they are dud specimens, grown from saplings not root stock? I am enjoying this year’s abundant crop, thanks to abundant Spring and early summer rains. Needless to say, we are back to drought conditions here and the rainfall has been pitiful for the last 7 weeks- less than 10 mm- a record of sorts. Scary.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My very green fingered friend made cuttings from her prolific fig tree grown in very similar conditions here in Alice, but mine just won’t flourish. Not meant to be! Gosh your lack of rainfall sounds like our normal amounts, that would be scary for you. x

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, it is, given the bush and abundant growth from last Spring. Last week’s fires in Tathra and in Western Victoria ( Terang) were a result of this drought. And well predicted through expert warnings and so on. Rain is coming on Saturday, fingers crossed.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. We have several fig trees at Casa Debbio, a couple of old ones that were growing wild when we bought the property, and a dozen new ones we have planted. So far we have only had figs one year from the old trees…I live in hope.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh to have such a fig producing tree would be a blessing. Figs are a bit of a rarity around here, but I’m going to tuck this away until we get those lovely black figs from Spain and Italy at our market a bit later in the year.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your fig photos are making me drool! I don’t think my fig tree will make it through this winter. Technically it is spring, but we had hail today. It was kind of a dud tree anyways. I will have to eat my share of figs when I am in Puglia, and find myself a new tree! Looking forward to your recipes! Ciao, Cristina

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh this looks sensational Francesca. Thank you for pointing out the two different varieties. I recently purchases some White Adriatic figs and they were firm, sweet and perfect! But, I was unsure what variety they were. Have you ever made semifreddo with mulberries? This is something I plan on experimenting with in mulberry season.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We have a big mulberry tree but they seem dry and not so appetising. Am still waiting for them to behave. I’m about to pick a flush of quince- and so may hunt around for a quince recipe- perhaps made into jam first like in this recipe. The fruit season is amazing this year Jane.

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  6. Don’t hate me for saying this, but I’m not fond of fresh figs. However, I do love dried figs, and have even made a semifreddo using them and other dried fruits. It’s such a lovely dessert to make ahead for company!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are many like you Mimi, who don’t like fresh figs. In this dessert they are jammed first so you would just get a sweet fruity taste. Yes, fried are ok, but for me, not in the same street.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Uncooked eggs are not a problem for me. I have my own hens and the eggs are always fresh. Many dishes use uncooked eggs, such as Aioli, a type of mayonaisse, and others. It’s good to know where your eggs come from first and know that they are fresh and are free range.

      Liked by 1 person

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