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Roasted Figs with Goat Cheese, Farro Confetti, and Port Syrup

A little postprandial sort of affair.

4 servings


About 1¼ hours, start to finish


Fresh figs come around twice a year, but their musky, sweet honey to resin and berry flavors and their vintage hues suit the poignance of a fleeting season. Figs love autumn. They can swing sweet, savory, or smoky with ease, always offering the ravishing crunch of their tiny glassy seeds. We roasted brown Turkey figs in a hot oven—high, dry heat works well for the vulnerable fig, giving it no quarter for collapse. Roasting also enhances less-than-expressive figs—those that are underripe or meek of flavor. (You can’t sniff your way into the heart of a fig.) For this application, soft, tart goat cheese, a touch of fennel pollen, and a few rasps of orange peel offset the figs’ unswerving sweetness, and a stain of port wine syrup pulls the flavors into balance. But the trick in our back pocket is, of course, the final shower of chewy farro piccolo—you know, just for fun.

Cooking Remarks

Use whatever variety of fresh figs you can get your hands on—it’s easier to pick and choose in some parts of the country than in others. The figs should feel ripe, but not pouchy, and appear unbruised.

If the syrup becomes too cool and the butter rises to the top or congeals, rewarm briefly on the stove.

Fennel pollen is strong stuff! It marries beautifully with the orange zest, but be sure to sprinkle with care.

This recipe has a number of discrete steps, but they are all short and uncomplicated.

equipment mise en place

For this recipe, you will need a heavy-bottomed small saucepan, a fine-mesh strainer, a small container with a tight-fitting lid, a medium bowl, a hand mixer, a wire rack, a rimmed baking sheet, a pastry brush, a pastry bag fitted with a ½-inch plain round tip, and four dessert plates for serving.

  • for the farro:

  • for the port syrup:

    • 6
      tablespoons (3 ounces) spring or filtered water
    • 6
      tablespoons (2.7 ounces) sugar
    • ¼
      cup (2 ounces) plus 1 teaspoon tawny port
    • 1
      tablespoon (0.5 ounce) unsalted European-style butter
    • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • for the goat cheese filling:

    • 6
      ounces fresh goat cheese, room temperature
    • 1
      tablespoon whole milk or heavy cream
    • 2
      teaspoons (0.3 ounces) wildflower honey
    • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • for the figs:

    • 8
      medium fresh figs (10 to 12 ounces total weight)
    • 2
      tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted European-style butter, melted
    • Fine sea salt
  • for the garnish:

    • Grated orange zest
    • Fennel pollen

    Prepare the farro: Fill a heavy-bottomed small saucepan with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the farro and salt, then return to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook the farro, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a gentle simmer, until the grains are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain in a fine-mesh strainer, shaking to remove as much water as possible. Immediately turn the farro into a small container with a tight-fitting lid, then sprinkle with the Grand Marnier and sugar. Stir to combine, let cool, cover, and refrigerate until ready to assemble.


    Make the port syrup: In a heavy-bottomed small saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a simmer over medium-high heat, swirling the pan to dissolve the sugar. Cook until the syrup has reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the ¼ cup (2 ounces) of port and continue to cook until the syrup is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 8 minutes. Add the butter, whisk to combine, and simmer for 10 seconds. You should have a scant ½ cup of syrup. Remove from the heat, stir in the remaining 1 teaspoon of port and the salt, and let cool to room temperature.


    Make the goat cheese filling: In a medium bowl, combine the goat cheese, milk or cream, honey, and salt. Beat with a hand mixer until smooth, about 2 minutes. Cover the bowl and set it aside.


    Roast the figs: Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Place a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet. Slice the figs in half lengthwise and line them up, cut sides facing up, on the rack. If they seem wobbly, shave a bit off their bottoms with a sharp paring knife so they sit nicely. Brush the figs with the butter and sprinkle them with salt. Roast for 12 to 15 minutes; the figs will become tender and slightly burnished. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Meanwhile, load the cheese into a pastry bag fitted with a ½-inch plain round tip.


    Assemble: Arrange 4 fig halves on each of 4 dessert plates. Pipe the cheese onto the fig halves, dividing it evenly. Drizzle the figs with port syrup and shower with the farro. Using a rasp-style grater, grate a touch of orange zest onto each fig, then sprinkle judiciously with fennel pollen. Serve right away.