Passing through the produce aisle at Whole Foods, on the way to pick up a store made dessert, the fresh figs on sale caught my eye. Yes, during the middle of a busy week, I was trying to keep our 20th anniversary dinner pretty simple. But my mind quickly got racing to pairing ideas…a dessert featuring grilled figs paired with a Sauternes sounded worthy of a special occasion, I thought. (we already had a special bottle lined up for our main course…stay tuned for a post about that soon!)
6 fresh figs, stems trimmed and sliced in half lengthwise
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup honey plus 1 extra tbsp honey
pinch of cinnamon
dash of dried sage
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds, toasted lightly (optional)
Preheat a grill to medium high. Combine the olive oil, 1 tablespoon of the balsamic and the sugar in a bowl. Gently toss the figs in this mixture, and set aside while the grill heats up.
Combine the mascarpone with 1 tablespoon of honey in a bowl and set aside.
Heat the remaining 1/2 cup of honey in a small pan on medium heat, and stir in the cinnamon and sage. Once the honey has liquefied a bit, turn the heat to low keep warm while the figs are grilled.
Grill the figs. If you have a grill pan, use that to avoid losing any figs to the grill. Set the figs skin side down the grill pan, or carefully set them directly onto the grill. Grill about 4 minutes on the skin side, then carefully turn over to sear the other side by grill for about 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove the figs to a plate.
Serve the dessert by adding a tablespoon or two of the mascarpone to each plate. Then place several figs on top of each plate of mascarpone. Finish the dish by drizzling the heated honey over the figs and cheese, and sprinkle the pumpkin seeds on top if you are using them.
Enjoy with a Sauternes! Sure, a lot of things go well with a Sauternes. But this grilled fig with honey and mascarpone with a Sauternes is definitely a great pairing! The 2007 Chateau de Malle Sauternes has notes of honey and hazelnut, and a super-long, luscious finish. It could be a nice dessert on its own, but pairing the Sauternes with this sweet and savory dessert is a great combination.
If you’re not familiar with Sauternes yet, I encourage you to get acquainted! This wine from Bordeaux is made from a blend of made from Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle grapes that have been affected by Botrytis cinerea, known as “noble rot”. There is surely a lot of interesting info on the web about it, but the Wikipedia entry is a good starting point.