Raw Figgy Clafouti
This month’s featured ingredient: Figs
This week my dear friend Katy appeared with a bag of fresh green figs from her yard. Sadly, we missed the opportunity to harvest the luscious fruits from her tree, but I was thrilled to reap the juicy benefits. I love figs. There are certain times of year when I anticipate the fruits of the season, and as late summer draws near, I start dreaming of figs.
Katy has been asking me for fig recipes. I found it an interesting question. Recipes for figs? Honestly, I can never make it that far. If I buy a container of figs at the farmer’s market or co-op, I’m lucky if two make it home from the car ride. But I didn’t want to let Katy down. I searched my reliable sources for some recipes–recipes, of course, that I had never tried. Then I started to remember some favorite figgy delicacies from my past. . .
Next to cake, the dessert on my wedding day, over ten years ago, consisted of fresh local figs from Mendocino, California, served with champagne sabyonne. It was creamy, sexy to dip figs into and eat with fingers, and incredibly rich and delicious. Yet I think one of my favorite desserts that I ever made was a fig clafouti (kla-foo-TEE). It was a few years before my wedding day. I can recall the deep look of satisfaction on my then boyfriend’s face as he bit into the fig custard. His sensual appreciation of food was one of the qualities that made me marry him.
Besides sharing the fact that they have odd names, and that they originate in France, sabyonne and clafouti are both sweet and egg-y dishes. But the similarities stop there. Sabyonne is creamy, elegant. Clafouti is rustic. It’s somewhere between a pudding and a pancake, mildly sweet, soft, yet dense.
Memories of that clafouti from my past inspired me to try my hand at a raw version–one without egg, without dairy, without refined sugar, without having to turn on the oven, but with lots of flavor and appeal. I must admit, I sampled many figs along the way, but, thanks to Katy’s generosity, had plenty left for this creation.
Raw Figgy Clafouti
I used a six-inch, half-sized tart pan. I think next time I’ll go for a full size tart pan and layer in more figs!
1-1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked for three hours or longer
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup nut milk (I used homemade hazelnut milk, but almond would be best.)
1/4 cup raw honey (I used a raw buckwheat honey from our travels through Massachusetts last month. It has a good strong flavor and caramel color.)
1-1/2 tspns organic almond extract
1 tspn organic vanilla extract
1/4 tspn sea salt
10 – 15 fresh ripe figs (depending on size), sliced into rounds–any kind of fig will do
extra raw honey for drizzling on serving plates and over slices (this is key)
1) Strain soaked cashews in a fine mesh strainer. Pour the cashews into a food processor. Pulse until the nuts become the consistency of nut butter, scraping down the sides to make sure that all bits are pulverized.
2) With machine running, add coconut oil, nut milk, honey, almond and vanilla extracts. You’re aiming for a very custard-like consistency. At this point, taste. If you’d like more almond extract, add now.
3) Pour half to three-quarters of the custard into your tart pan. Start to randomly layer in some of your fig slices. Pour a bit more of the custard on top and layer some more figs. Press these a bit so some of the custard spills on top of the figs.
4) Place the tart pan in the freezer for about one hour. Then remove from freezer and place in fridge. Store in fridge until ready to serve. Best kept in fridge.
Serve drizzled with raw honey.
Note: Clafouti is traditionally made with cherries. You can substitute cherries for the figs here. But then again, clafouti is traditionally made with eggs and milk. So try this recipe with cherries, berries, peaches, or whatever you have on hand.
What’s So Great About Figs?
Figs are simultaneously sweet, chewy, smooth, and crunchy. They’re both a taste and textural sensation. Best eaten when somewhat mushy, they deliver a powerful nutritional profile.
Figs are a great source of fiber and minerals, including potassium, calcium and manganese. They’re specifically supportive to the digestive system, blood pressure, and heart function. In addition, figs have been used in some traditional diets to soothe a lingering cough.
Victoria Boutenko, the mother of the Green Smoothie Revolution, and author of a new book by the same name, says that even the fig leaves can be blended into a smoothie in small quantities. They’re used like a fresh medicinal herb, and best combined with other leafy greens. The benefits are potent anti-diabetic properties. I gave it a try this morning in my fig, strawberry, coconut water, cilantro green smoothie. Yum!
references: The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia by Rebecca Woods, The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, ND, The Green Smoothie Revolution by Victoria Boutenko, whfoods.com