This past weekend, the family and I participated in a harvest with the Portland Fruit Tree Project (PFTP). For those who are unfamiliar with this wonderful organization, it’s mission is simple. Because of our temperate climate, Portland is full of fruit trees — but sometimes the homeowners cannot use the fruit they grown. Rather than letting it go to waste, PFTP gathers a group of volunteers who harvest the fruit. Most of it goes to homeless shelters, but the volunteers also are allowed to take some fruit home. The homeowners don’t have a big mess on their hands, the shelters get extra food, and the volunteers get community service time as well as free fruit: it’s a win for everyone involved.
On our harvest date, it turned out to be just our family and some folks from PFTP for the three hour session. Between us, however, we picked 226 pounds of grapes and figs. We took home about two pounds of figs, and 24 pounds of concord grapes. I was thinking I’d make grape jelly, but at the rate my kids eat them, they won’t last long enough for me to do that. I don’t mind, though: fistfuls of concords are so much better than a lot of things they could be eating.
This recipe, however, is all about the figs.
The figs we harvested were incredibly ripe — like fall apart as you took them off the trees ripe — so I needed to use them in something where shape didn’t matter (i.e., not a salad or a cheese plate). I decided to cook them down into a concentrated American style pudding (as opposed to British puddings, which are something like fruitcake).
Then I started thinking about American Thanksgiving, since it’s only a month away (I know, I’m a touch early, but it’s my second-favorite holiday of the year and I am a little obsessed). Since this is our first paleo Thanksgiving, I wanted experiment with a simple fruit-based dessert. I added chocolate for depth, a little honey for sweetness, and a bit of cinnamon and vanilla to add warmth. I thought it just sounded like these might be good.
Little did I know it would turn out to be a sexy, smoky, intensely figgy treat that made me want to lick the bowl. Nope, I’m not even a little ashamed to admit that: this stuff is good. Even my fig-hating teenager loved it.
Top it with quickly candied nuts (I used pecans, but walnuts would be incredible, too) and brightly-flavored dried cranberries for a bit of contrast and zing. While I made it with the holidays in mind, it’s too good and too easy to save just for that day: this pudding is definitely going into the regular rotation.
- 4 cups figs, roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup raw pecans
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- Combine figs, cocoa, honey, vanilla and cinnamon in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes, or until figs are mostly disintegrated.
- Remove pan from heat and blend the mixture with an immersion blender until smooth.
- Return to heat; cook for another 20 minutes, or until volume is reduced by half. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Combine all ingredients in a small skillet. Over medium heat, stirring constantly, toast nuts until fragrant, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat; allow to cool.
- To serve, layer pudding, nuts and cranberries in a dessert dish.