I was in college the first time I tried a fresh fig. I was in Tuscania, Italy, on an archaeological dig and one of the professors brought us some fresh fruit from their garden. I’ll try anything and, having recently tried the wonderful homemade fig preserves made by my then-fiance’s granny, was pretty sure I’d like it. It was amazing - juicy, sweet but not too sweet, delicate in flavor, and gone entirely too quickly. After college and after getting married, I took the first opportunity I could to have Granny teach me her ways. It was easier than I’d thought and I was hooked on the idea of making my own.
Figs are only good for a few days after being picked so they can be difficult to find in the first place and when they are available, are usually expensive. So, the key is to find a fig tree. I know, I know, it sounds excessive. But for that one month of the year that figs are in season, I just can’t get enough! My husband’s granny has one in her backyard. When we moved to Pensacola I made good friends with a couple that had a few in their yard as well. And then when we moved to Augusta I got lucky a third time! This is why I love talking to people; you never know the connections you might make and the cool people you’ll meet just by opening your mouth and saying hi to a stranger. But I digress. Get a fig tree or make friends with someone who has one.
Depending on where you live, figs are typically in season in July or August but if you can get your hands on some frozen figs, that will work just as well for this recipe. I was pretty excited about how this turned out since I really took inspiration from several different recipes and created my own for once. Bernie made it disappear pretty quickly too and that’s always a good sign!
If you’ve never had frozen custard is essentially a rich egg and cream based ice cream. It’s as versatile as traditional ice cream and doesn’t turn into a block of ice in the freezer which is a bonus in my book. I used a basic recipe here and just added bourbon (our favorite liquor of choice) but I bet it’d be good with dark rum Art in the Age Snap liquor or any other number of dark and/or spiced liquors.
The fig swirl is essentially thin preserves. In fact if you can’t get your hands on fresh or frozen figs, preserves would probably work just fine. I jazzed the preserves up with a bit more bourbon (the alcohol cooks out here) and a generous amount of cardamon - one of my favorite underrated spices. Also, if you’re not a bourbon fan, just skip it. It’s totally not necessary.
-9 egg yolks
-3/4 tsp salt
-1 1/8 C sugar
-3 cups heavy cream
-4 oz Bourbon
-2 C Figs
-3/4 C dark brown sugar
-5 tsp Cardamom
-2 oz Bourbon
To make the custard:
- Combine egg yolks, salt, and sugar in a sauce pan and whisk until smooth.
- Add cream and heat on medium high heat, whisking continually, until smooth and thickened. Try not to let it boil and reduce heat slightly if necessary. 10 minutes or so.
- Remove from heat and whisk in bourbon.
- Strain into a separate bowl and cool quickly in an ice bath (place the bowl of custard inside another bowl of ice water to stop it cooking).
- Cover and refrigerate for 8+ hours. (I’ve tried to skip this step before and though it works, it’ll be better if you just do it.)
To make the Fig Swirl:
- Wash, de-stem, and halve the figs.
- Combine in a pan with brown sugar and cardamom and heat over medium heat until sugar is dissolved.
- Remove from heat and add bourbon.
- Remove custard from fridge and freeze in ice cream maker. (Honestly I’d cooked my custard a bit thicker than I’d intended so I might could have skipped this step.)
- Alternate frozen custard and fig swirl in bread pan. Then run a knife in a zig-zag pattern through the pan to further combine and swirl.
- Cover, and freeze in freezer 4+ hours or until desired consistency.
As stated before, it shouldn’t freeze solid like a block of ice. It’s nice and creamy and smooth. The bonus with making basically anything with sugar though is that if for some reason it doesn’t turn out the way it’s supposed to, it’ll almost always still taste yummy, even if you’re drinking it out of a glass or chiseling away at it with an ice pick.