SHF #35 – Red wine and vanilla poached dried figs and mascarpone semifreddo

So much to post about and so little time! Of course SHF gets priority handling 😉 This months SHF is hosted by one of my favorite foodblogger Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice. For SHF #35, she wants all of us to go out there and explore the world of figs. Figs are probably the only fruit I don’t like eating fresh. I don’t know why exactly, I like sweet things a lot, usually the sweeter the better. But the sweetness of the fig is just…I don’t know…not the right kind of sweet somehow. It’s not that I only recently tasted figs for the first time. I am half Croatian and as hopefully some of you know 😉 there are lots of fig trees over there. During our vacations there I’m always offered fresh figs. I mostly decline the offer and tell the person I don’t like fresh figs. Usually I’m given a strange look like I’m not normal to not like them. Every once in a while I try them again because, I don’t know, maybe all of a sudden I will like them…but that still hasn’t happened.
I was happy Ivonne also included the use of dried figs because those I llike a lot! Especially the ones from our own trees in Croatia. My mum and dad came back last week and brought us about 2 kg (4 lb). They also brought a lot of other homemade goodies like sundried and smoked tomatoes, fig jam, prune jam, dried mint and matar. Matar is a kind of wild plant that grows at the seafront, in English it’s called rock samphire and in Dutch zeevenkel.

I adapted a recipe from The real Greek at home by Theodore Kyriakou and Charles Campion. Originally the semifreddo is made with manouri cheese but I replaced this with mascarpone. Dried figs are poached in red wine and vanilla, and is made into semifreddo together with milk, cream and mascarpone.
It has very much a ‘grown up’ taste because of the red wine and also because not a lot of sweetener is used. It is creamy but not in regular ice cream way with the fig seeds adding a crunch.

You will have more figs than needed for the semifreddo. Greeks use them as a topping for ice cream or with plenty of coarse black pepper as an accompaniment to feta cheese.

Red wine poached figs

500 g (18 oz) dried figs
750 ml (25 ½ fl oz) red wine
55 g (2 oz) honey
25 g (1 oz) caster sugar
2 vanilla pods
(2 cinnamon sticks)

Cut each fig in half lengthways. Put all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to simmering point. Allow to simmer until the liquid has been reduced by half and is just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Allow to cool.

Fig and mascarpone semifreddo

makes 6 portions

225 ml (7 ½ fl oz) milk
150 ml (5 fl oz) whipping cream
350 g (12 oz) mascarpone
500 g (18 oz) poached figs, drained

Put the milk, cream and mascarpone in a saucepan and heat through very gently. Allow the mascarpone to melt into the milk in about 40 minutes. Stire throug and set aside.
Slightly grease 6 mini loaf baking tins and line with 2 strips of baking paper, one placed lengthways and one widthways. Both should be long enough to use as ‘handles’ when you take the semifreddo out (alternatively you can line them with plastic wrap but that will leave creases in the semifreddo)
Process 400 g (14 oz) of the figs in a foodprocessor until it is a paste (add a little fig juice if it seems to dry to process well). With the machine running, add the cheese mixture and process until smooth.
Allow the mixture to cool down. Churn it in an ice cream machine for about 20 minutes, mixture should still be soft. (You will have 1 l (2 pints) so check your ice cream machine how much it can handle at a time).
Place some figs on the bottom of the loaf tins and spoon the ice cream on top.
Freeze overnight. Warm the tins a bit with your hands and pull the semifreddo out by pulling at the sides of one strip of baking paper. Turn upside down on a plate. Wait 30-45 minutes before serving.

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5 Responses to SHF #35 – Red wine and vanilla poached dried figs and mascarpone semifreddo

  1. Ivonne says:

    Wow, Linda! Not only had I never heard of that cheese but I’m so impressed that you used it to make a semifreddo. I’m thrilled at how creative this dessert is. It’s funny because I know so many people who don’t like fresh figs but I’m so happy that you tried this with the dried. It’s beautiful!

    Thanks so much for taking part in SHF #35!

  2. Rosa says:

    A great dessert! Very appealing…

  3. kate says:

    hey , the semifreddo looks fab ! i’m not sure if i’ve tried this cheese before but do u have another substitute for it.I have a pack of these figs lying around in my fridge and i’ve just been eating them as it is. This recipe looks really intresting.

  4. This looks and sounds great!
    I prepared figs on so many different ways but this is so new and unexpected that I just have to tray it!
    Thanks for such a great inspiration!

  5. linda says:

    Thanks Ivonne, always a pleasure to participate in SHF!
    Thanks Rosa!
    Thanks Kate, I used mascarpone intead of the manouri. Maybe you could use a real fat cream cheese instead?
    Thanks FreshAdriaticFish, glad to be of help 😉

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