I went to the grocery store a couple days ago for a bit of lettuce. When I saw these, I stopped in my tracks!
I hadn’t tried fresh figs until a couple years ago. You can only get them fresh a few months out of the year, which adds to their appeal. They are a rare treat and a delicate fruit. They bruise easily and don’t last long, but that only makes them seem more precious. They are a great source of fiber, and a good source of potassium, manganese, and calcium. But I would eat them even if they weren’t!
There is something so seductive about figs. Its not surprising they have been the subject of so many myths. Figs trees are in many depictions of the Garden of Eden, and the leaves were what Adam and Eve were said to have used to cover themselves. Romans held the fig tree to be sacred because the she-wolf who suckled Romulous and Remus did so under a fig tree. Figs are associated with Dionysus, the God of wine, and Priapus, a satyr who symbolizes sexual desire. Even the bodhi tree which Buddha is said to have achieved enlightenment under is a type of fig tree.
As luscious, sweet and juicy as these gems are on their own, I felt like the first figs of the year deserved a little special presentation. Enter the Honeyed Fig and Chevre Cheesecake Bites with Walnut Crust…
These combine two of my favorite things: Figs and goat cheese, which incidentally are a lovely combination! I made them in muffin tins because mini things are just cuter and it also helps with portion control! They are even gluten free, utilizing a simple crust of walnuts and dates. I tried to drizzle them with honey before baking, but I’m going to recommend not doing that because it made them very sticky and difficult to get out of the muffin tins!
Honeyed Fig and Chevre Cheesecake with Walnut Crust
makes 6 muffin sized servings
*heaping 1/2 cup walnuts
*heaping 1/2 cup dates
* 2 tablespoons rolled oats
pinch on salt
*3.5 oz plain soft chevre (goat cheese)
*4 oz low fat cream cheese
*1 large egg
*1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 2-4 tablespoons sugar (I used 2, plus a little stevia. You could probably replace all or most with stevia, but my husband hates it so I have to be sneaky!)
*1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
*1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (optional)
*4 large fresh figs
* 2 tablespoons honey
cinnamon for sprinkling
1. Preheat your over to 350F and prepare 6 muffin cups by either greasing them or placing paper muffin cups inside. Make the crust by pulsing the walnuts, oats, dates, and salt in a food processor until a crumbly mixture forms that will hold together if you roll it into a ball. Divide the mixture equally among the muffin cups, pressing against the bottom and up the sides to form a crust.
2. Make the filling by combining all filling ingredients in the food processor until well mixed. Spoon this mixture into the prepared muffin cups. Try not to eat it all before it gets there.
3. Now prepare the figs: Slice the figs into 4-6 pieces each. Heat the honey up on the stove or in a microwave until hot and completely liquid. Toss the figs in the honey and let marinate for a few minutes. When they have soaked up that honey goodness, spoon them over your prepared mini cheesecakes, careful not to drip a lot of honey down the sides. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
4. Bake for 20-22 minutes, then broil for just a minute to ensure caramelization of the figs. Cool for 3 hours or more before serving.
Enlightenment is not guaranteed, but they do pair well with Harry Potter Fever! Anyone seen the last Harry Potter yet? I did! Loved it!