I just learned to love figs and this season I ate a ton of them. But, when I went back to the store to experiment with this dessert, there were no more fresh figs...I was bummed to say the least. So, I bought a package of Dried Mission Figs, Poached them in a wonderful Ruby Port and made a dried fig puree to add to this classic Creme Brulee. The Poached Figs by themselves would be fabulous over warm brie, a cheese platter or served warm over vanilla ice cream. Happy Eating! —jonewman
In a heavy medium saucepan, combine the port, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, cinnamon stick, vanilla bean (split and scraped for seeds and the pod), the orange peel and the fresh cracked pepper (about 10-12 cranks). Bring this to a boil. Boil without figs for 10 minutes.
While the sauce is on the stove, remove the stems from the dried figs and cut figs in half. After the sauce has boiled for 10 minutes, add the fig halves and continue to boil for an additional 10 minutes. Then remove for heat and let cool. The figs will be poached and the sauce will have reduced.
Remove the orange peel, cinnamon stick and vanilla pod from the sauce. Reserve half of the figs for garnish. With the other half of the figs and with all of the reduced sauce, put into a blender and blend until mostly smooth.
Vanilla Creme Brulee
Set oven to 325 degrees. Also, put a pot of water onto the stove and start to warm it up, but not to a boil.
In a medium saucepan, add heavy cream, the scrapped vanilla and the vanilla pod. Slowly bring to a boil on medium-high heat. Let boil for two minutes then remove from heat. Place cover on the saucepan and let sit for 20 minutes.
In a bowl, whisk briskly the ½ cup of granulated sugar with the egg yolks. Whisk until they turn light in color (like a pale yellow).
Remove the vanilla pod from the cream. Whisking briskly, temper the eggs with a cup of cream that is slowly poured in. Mix until combined. Slowly add in another cup of cream to this mixture, whisk constantly. Finally take the tempered egg mixture and slowly add it to the rest of the heavy cream whisking constantly.
In 12-14 (6 ounce) ramekins take the fig puree and place a tablespoon to 1 ½ tablespoons of the puree at the bottom of the ramekins. Next in a roasting pan add the hot water to the bottom. Place the ramekins with the fig puree into the roasting pan after the water has been put in.
Finally add the custard to the ramekins evenly. Bake for 45 minutes at 325. Then check on them. You may need to bake for up to an additional 30 minutes…it depends on your ramekin. You will know they are done when they are set along the edges but slightly wiggle in the middle.
Take out of the oven and let them cool out of the roasting pan, in the fridge for at least two hours. Can be made the day ahead.
Take ramekins out of the fridge and allow them to warm up at room temperature for 20-30 minutes. Next put 1 teaspoon of raw sugar on top of the custard. Use a torch to melt the sugar and form the brulee top. Finally put a few of the poached fig halves that were reserved on top for decoration. Serve Immediately.