Earlier in the day I was inspired by an article in our local paper, the Press Democrat. Grilled Figs with goat cheese sounded nice, but I wanted something sweeter, plus I had a few more Italian prune plums to play with. So I decided to combine the idea of figs stuffed with cheese with the idea of a plum clafouti from the American Heart Association's Low-fat and Luscious Desserts book. Naturally there had to be some chocolate involved...dark chocolate to complement the fall flavors of figs and plums.I took the fresh, ripe figs...all soft and pretty with purple-brown skin and voluptuous insides, removed the stem, cut them from stem toward the bottom and again at 45 degree angle. A small slice of Rouge et Noir Breakfast Cheese, a mild soft ripened cheese similar to a young Brie, was placed in one part and small pieces of dark chocolate were inserted in the other cuts. Then these sweet packets were placed in a buttered springform pan in a nice circle with one in the middle. Around these at the outer edge I placed halves of the plums, skin side up. If I were to do it again, I'd put the suffed figs around the outer edge and the plums in the center...the clafouti would bake faster that way, so the texture would be softer and more custardy.
Now we were ready for the clafouti batter. Using the recipe from the book as a jumping off place, I used brown sugar for the batter, added a teaspoon of lemon zest, and used walnut oil...guess I was already thinking walnuts...instead of the melted margarine. You could probably use melted butter, or any vegetable oil that was lightly flavored. I carefully poured the batter over the plum halves and let it seep between the stuffed figs.
Into the oven the pan went and soon the house was filled with the fragrance of baking fruits, lemon, and brown sugar with undertones of vanilla, eggs and flour.Cousins Tom and Nora arrived from Florida while the clafouti was still warm and we and a feast of figs together. They were particularly taken with the melted chocolate and warm fruit. I thought that the eggy custardy clafouti was a nice contrast to the crunch of the seeds in the figs.
SHF#35 - The Beautiful Fig, hosted this month by Ivonne also known as Cream Puff of Cream Puffs in Venice, has the theme of figs. I think that this makes a great entry. Who knew figs could be such fun?
Stuffed Figs and Plum Clafouti
9 ripe fresh figs
1.5 oz mild soft ripened cheese
2 oz dark chocolate - bitter or semisweet
3 plums, halved and pitted
3 eggs or equivalent in egg substitute
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup fat free milk
2 tablespoons melted margarine, melted butter, or nut or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a springform pan. Set aside.
Take each fig. Remove the stem if there is one. Using a small sharp knife, slice from the stem toward the bottom, going about 2/3 of the way down the fruit. Turn a 1/4 turn and repeat.
Slice a small slice of cheese and insert that into one of the cuts.
Coarsly chop or chunk the dark chocolate to the size of dried split peas or slightly larger. Place 5 or 5 of those pieces in the slits on each side of the cheese. Small bits of chocolate can be scattered over the cheese. Place fig into the prepared pan. Repeat until all are stuffed.
Place the stuffed figs equal amounts apart around the outer edge of the pan, about an inch in from the sides. Place the plum halves, skin side up, in the center area.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs or egg substitute and brown sugar. Let sit a moment to dissolve the sugar. Add the vnilla, salt, and lemon zest. Whisk to combine. Whisk in flour until combined (batter may be slightly lumpy).
In a small bowl, whisk together the milk and liquid fat; gradualy whisk into the flour mixture until combined.
Pour batter over the plums and let it spread around the stuffed figs. Figs will be higher than the batter. That is O.K. Sprinkle brown sugar over the whole pan.
Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. and bake for 30 - 35 minutes, or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.
Let cool for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm, making sure to include some plums and at least on stuffed fig in each serving. Serves 6-8.