This dessert represents my version of an Indian dish known as shrikhand: sweetened yogurt, seasoned with saffron, rosewater, and cardamom. I think that roasted figs partner brilliantly with the yogurt and make a simple but elegant, seasonal dessert. This yogurt dish also pairs well with tropical fruits, such as mango, papaya, and pineapple. —Donna
fresh, firm but ripe, black Mission figs
light brown sugar
liqueur, such as Cointreau or whisky (or fruit juice, if preferred)
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Choose a baking dish that will allow the figs to bake in one layer. Rinse and stem the figs and slice each one in half. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, honey, liqueur (or juice), and salt. Arrange the figs, cut side down, in the baking dish and pour the honey mixture over the top. Add the citrus zest strips. Place in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender but not mushy. Set aside to cool a bit.
In the meantime, add the saffron threads to the heavy cream and infuse (in the refrigerator) for 30 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk the yogurt to loosen the texture. Whip the saffron-infused cream to very soft peaks. Fold the cream into the yogurt. Add the cardamom and rosewater, starting with the smaller amounts, then adjust to your taste. Add the sugar, again, adjusting to taste.
Divide the yogurt mixture amongst four serving bowls. Top with 4 or 5 fig halves and a portion of the sweet, rose-colored cooking syrup. Top with chopped pistachios, if using.