chocolate and fig shortbread

June 27, 2014

chocolate and fig shortbread (2) 

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

I read the The Great Gatsby when I was in high school. Curiously, I have no memory at all of this beautifully melancholic, metaphoric closing line. It’s a line wasted on youth. At least, it was wasted on me.

At the moment I’m working on a project about Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister. He is a fantastic character – whose remarkable intellect and sense of humour was only exceeded by his many foibles including an addiction to alcohol and a penchant for women of ‘dubious distinction.’

If I wasn’t in the middle of all this writing and researching about Sir John A., I’d down tools and start re-reading The Great Gatsby immediately. It’s first up on my reading list as soon as I get through my work. And next after that is a Hemingway binge. For the past few years, I’ve been revisiting literature that I either skipped entirely or was wasted on me earlier – Steinbeck, Emily Bronte, Virginia Woolf, and Sylvia Plath. My favourite book from my recent reading list was Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar followed closely by The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean Dominque Beauby. But I also loved Steinbeck – especially The Grapes of Wrath and Travels with Charley. If I didn’t have so much reading to do – I’d read them all again, immediately. So many books, so little time…

Which brings me to figs. Another thing wasted on youth!

When I was very young, I was given a dried fig at a very posh, adult Christmas party. I was wearing a red velvet dress with stockings and black patent leather shoes. A pearl headband in my hair. Before we went in, I was read the riot act about how to behave. So when I was given a fig, I took a small bite and then nearly died trying to eat the mouthful of horrible dried, seedy pulp. I had nothing else to eat for the duration of the entire party because I had the remainder of the fig clutched in my hand and didn’t know what to do with it. I held it there throughout the party and then all the way home in the car, my hand folded up inside my mitten, clutched around the fig which was melting into my warm little hand – a big brown gooey sticky blob. I was afraid to tell anyone. So I kept quiet, and when I got home, I went straight to the bathroom and scrubbed my hands. I thought I’d never eat a fig again so long as I lived.

Then I went to live in Australia. And I discovered fig trees and the joy of eating fresh figs plucked straight from the tree. Now I love figs – one of my favourite fruits – fresh or dried. The season for fresh figs in Canada is short. They are imported though according to this story in The Toronto Star – you can grow figs in this climate – even here in Ontario where winters can be long and harsh. One curious fact about figs – strictly speaking, they’re not considered to be vegan because in the process of pollinating figs, the female wasp can be absorbed into the fig, where it is broken down by enzymes.

This recipe was inspired by a dessert served at Le Chien Noir in Kingston. It’s a dark chocolate coated shortbread base, topped with whipped cream and fresh figs and finished with a swirl of balsamic reduction. I made my own version at home – a simple and elegant dessert. Fit for a party. So I’m taking it over to Fiesta Friday at The Novice Gardener.

Chocolate and Fig Shortbread

For the shortbread crust:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • I cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Mix together the butter and brown sugar. Stir in the flour and salt. The mixture will be crumbly but should hold together with pressed.

Press into a buttered 9 inch pie dish. Bake at 325 for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.

To finish:

  • 1 cup pure semi-sweet chocolate pieces
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 4-6 ripe fresh figs, washed and quartered
  • 1 cup of whipping cream, whipped with a teaspoon of liquid honey
  • a few tablespoons of balsamic reduction – you can use a commercial one or reduce your own by cooking a cup of balsamic vinegar over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes or until it is reduced by half.

Melt the chocolate and butter in the top of a double-boiler or by whatever means you like including low power on the microwave. Spread the chocolate over the shortbread and let set. Cut the shortbread into wedges. Top with a generous spoonful of whipped cream, a couple of quartered figs, and a drizzle of balsamic reduction.

chocolate and fig shortbread

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41 Comments

  • Reply tinywhitecottage June 27, 2014 at 10:07 am

    What a story about the big brown gooey sticky blob! You poor thing having to endure the whole party with a fig in your hand. You were a very patient child. 🙂 My son just finished The Great Gatsby and I think he’ll never forget it. His Literature class microscopically studies every book they read. It is good for him because as very physical person reading is not one of his favorite pastimes. I am sure he would “speed read” or is it “not read it at all” if he could get away with it! Nice to see your post this morning. I adore figs and serving them with chocolate and balsamic reduction is such a unique way to have them. 🙂

    • Reply love in the kitchen June 27, 2014 at 1:38 pm

      How wonderful that your son just finished The Great Gatsby and studied it properly. I’m sure I speed read it “way back then” and then watched the movie! It’s wonderful though to go back to the classics again now. If only there were more hours in the day…. sigh. 🙂

  • Reply Elly June 27, 2014 at 10:47 am

    This looks so delicious! Very interesting about figs not being strictly vegan – reminds me of the strangler figs we saw in Australia. Creepy! xoxo

  • Reply My French Heaven June 27, 2014 at 11:46 am

    This is pure genius! Can’t wait for fig season!!!

    • Reply love in the kitchen June 27, 2014 at 1:41 pm

      Stephane – the original version in the little French restaurant served the shortbread with a marscapone and whipped cream mixture. It was wonderful but almost insanely rich. Still I can be tempted by rich…. 😉

  • Reply Fiesta Friday #22 | The Novice Gardener June 27, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    […] Lindy […]

  • Reply Arl's World June 27, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    I am loving this! Yummy delicious!

  • Reply Loretta June 27, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    Ooooo, love shortbread, I’ll take two please 🙂

  • Reply Butter, Basil and Breadcrumbs June 27, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    Oh Lindy… you made me so sad for that little girl holding on tight to that fig.. I just want to give her a big hug, take the fig and throw it in the trash for her, and make sure she gets something that she actually likes, to eat at the party! Sweet little thing… <3

    Welcome to Fiesta Friday my love!! I'm so happy to see you…I'm always happy to see you… And what a fabulous shortbread that you have brought to the table. It is pure sophistication, and I'm quite certain absolutely delicious! I love figs!

    Thank you so much for sharing this with all of us…I know that everyone will love it just as much as I do! xoxo <3

  • Reply rawfooddiaries June 28, 2014 at 2:09 am

    I looove figs! And its true that they are best eaten fresh. Thank for sharing both your story and this lovely recipe 🙂

  • Reply ohlidia June 28, 2014 at 4:46 am

    What a sweet story! I can remember being in Italy as a young girl and climbing up fig trees, sitting on the branches and having my fill of them. Until someone’s grandfather would come chasing us away from his precious gems! That does indeed look like a fabulous dessert! xox

    • Reply love in the kitchen July 6, 2014 at 4:42 pm

      Oh Lidia! What a wonderful memory to have. And wonderful to hear from you. I hope all is well in your world. xox

  • Reply spiceinthecity June 28, 2014 at 7:45 am

    I loved this post Lindy and that shortbread looks to die for 🙂

  • Reply chef mimi June 28, 2014 at 11:03 am

    Oh my this looks and sounds so good! I don’t usually love shortbread because of the dryness, but a little butter doesn’t hurt!!!

    • Reply love in the kitchen July 6, 2014 at 4:45 pm

      Thank you Mimi – and yes – a little butter (or a lot) never hurt anything!

  • Reply apuginthekitchen June 28, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    OMG this is gorgeous, I love everything about it the shortbread, chocolate whipped cream and fresh figs. Now I will admit I still really dislike dried figs, I won’t eat them, if they are re hydrated poached or what have you they are a bit more palatable, I do however love fresh figs I’m afraid if I had a fig tree it would be picked clean in no time at all. this is an elegant and beautiful dessert. So well done! I also plan on re visiting some of the novels I read as a teen and in my younger days, they were wasted on my youth at the time I can now appreciate them for the master works they are.

    • Reply love in the kitchen July 6, 2014 at 4:51 pm

      Suzanne – you’re a darling. Thank you! Love that we share an uneasiness about dried figs. I too will eat them poached but still – they’re nothing like fresh. I’m not getting far fast with my plan to reread the classics. Took me half the year to get through Wuthering Heights and then I read a couple of current books – SO MUCH FASTER! xo

  • Reply chefjulianna June 29, 2014 at 1:44 am

    Wow! What a gorgeous post! Your recipe is just amazing. I love figs and often make them into savoury tapenades, but this recipe sounds over the top wonderful! Thanks so much for bringing it to FF! 😀

    • Reply love in the kitchen July 6, 2014 at 4:52 pm

      Oh yes – an olive and fig tapenade is just the very best use of dried figs ever! Absolutely agree. And thanks for stopping by!

  • Reply Jhuls June 29, 2014 at 9:30 am

    I love love this shortbread, Lindy!! My hand is getting two. 😀 Nice to meet you, btw. 😉 Hope you have a lovely week!

    • Reply love in the kitchen July 6, 2014 at 4:53 pm

      Thank you Jhuls! Now looking forward to heading over to your blog…

  • Reply Michelle June 29, 2014 at 9:38 am

    Yum! I love figs,I don’t bake with them very often though as it’s hard to find fresh figs around here, so I only ever bake if I’m making some kind of jam filling so i can use dried figs. I love your story about the dried figs though, gave me a good chuckle!

    I’ve never read The Great Gatsby, it wasn’t a book we read in school so I never picked it up.

    • Reply love in the kitchen July 6, 2014 at 4:55 pm

      Thank you Michelle. My tastes have matured a little since that party! A jam filling with dried figs does sound wonderful. I’ll have to check that out. Is it possible to make fig jam from dried figs? Have you tried this?

  • Reply Patty Nguyen June 29, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    Wow, what an elegant presentation!

  • Reply milk & marigolds girl June 30, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    figs pull on my heartstrings. Love the pairing!

    • Reply love in the kitchen July 6, 2014 at 4:57 pm

      Thank you! You’re so sweet – especially so given that you don’t eat either wheat or dairy.

  • Reply Mary Frances July 3, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    There never seems to be enough time to read as much as I’d like to.

    Lovely dessert!

    • Reply love in the kitchen July 6, 2014 at 4:57 pm

      Hi Mary Frances – yes – completely agree – time is kalaidoscoping somehow. No idea if I spelt that correctly!

  • Reply The Novice Gardener July 3, 2014 at 10:32 pm

    OMG, this reminds me of myself!! I don’t remember when and where it happened, but it did! In fact, I mentioned in one of my early posts that I used to be afraid of biting into a fig because I remembered all those seeds! But NOW, I’m obsessed with figs. Go figure! Wonderful post, Lindy! Brings back memories. <3

    • Reply love in the kitchen July 6, 2014 at 4:59 pm

      Angie – I’m going back to find that fig post of yours. I knew you were a kindred spirit! Thank you so much for commenting and for letting me bring this to Fiesta Friday. <3

  • Reply Fiesta Friday #23|Happy 4th of July! | The Novice Gardener July 4, 2014 at 8:03 am

    […] Chocolate and Fig Shortbread from Lindy @Love in the Kitchen. This post speaks to me and for me, and possibly all little children everywhere. What child likes dried figs? But wait, give the child time to grow and the fig will grow on her. Go FIGure! And I haven’t even touched the recipe yet, which is in one word, outstandingly sophisticated. OK, two words. Love the post, Lindy! I swear something similar happened to me. […]

  • Reply DetoxMama July 4, 2014 at 9:34 am

    What a wonderful post! And this dessert looks divine!!

  • Reply acbistro July 9, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    wow !! looks yummilicious 🙂

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