The March meeting of Cookbook Club was a Sunday brunch, with the express purpose of eating the Super French Toast in Ottolenghi's Plenty More. I thought it was the right occasion to push a secondary fig agenda. Of course Ottolenghi could assist, with a recipe for 'roasted figs with pomegranate molasses and orange zest' tucked into the Sweetened section of Plenty More.
Michael helpfully picked up the ingredients on Saturday, and that had me in good shape to cobble it all together on Sunday morning in less than an hour. A little whisking and chopping, 30 minutes' maceration passed with simmering and more whisking, 10 minutes under the grill and we had a handsome side dish all packed up and ready to be cycled over to our hosts. I was a little skeptical that a brief grilling would produce the soft, glistening figs pictured in the cookbook, but mine were a very respectable mimic.
The Super French Toast demonstrates that Ottolenghi is as devoted to fats as he is to fresh produce - he manages to saturate thick brioche slices with custard, set it by baking, then fry it all in butter. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and one that was complemented by these grilled figs. The sour, slightly bitter flavour of this particular bottle of pomegranate molasses was a welcome respite from layer-upon-layer of dairy fat.
Super French Toast might need sour fruits, but sour fruits don't need Super French Toast - I reckon I'll find other occasions to grill figs like this again.
Grilled figs in pomegranate syrup
(very slightly adapted from a recipe in Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty More)
1/3 cup pomegranate molasses
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/3 cup brown sugar
pinch of salt
1 1/2 tablespoons water
12 ripe figs, cut in half lengthways
~8 stems fresh thyme
rind of 1-2 oranges, finely shredded
150g Greek yoghurt
1 1/2 tablespoons icing sugar
In a medium-large bowl, whisk together the pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, one third of the brown sugar, the salt and the water. Once the sugar is dissolved, toss through the figs, thyme and orange rind. Allow the mixture to rest and macerate for 30 minutes.
Place the mascarpone and yoghurt in a small bowl and sift over the icing sugar. Whisk it all together until smooth, and then refrigerate the mixture until serving time.
Pick the figs out of the bowl one-by-one and place them cut-side-up in a medium-large baking dish (reserve the marinade that remains in the bottom of the bowl). Sprinkle the remaining brown sugar over the figs and then place them under a hot grill. Grill them until the sugar has melted and the figs have softened. This may take around 10 minutes, but keep a close eye on them to ensure they don't burn!
Pour the marinade from the bowl of figs into a small saucepan. Bring it to the boil and simmer it until the sauce has reduced by half and 'has the consistency of runny honey'. Pick out the whole thyme sprigs.
To serve place the figs on individual plates, pour over the pomegranate reduction and spoon on the yoghurt cream. Ottolenghi also garnishes the figs with fresh thyme leaves and finely grated orange rind.