Looking for a simple, seasonal dessert recipe that is out of the ordinary? Honey-Mascarpone Ice Cream with Balsamic Ripple, Grilled Figs and Walnuts is a fantastic combination of sweet grilled sweet figs paired with creamy, easy Mascarpone Ice Cream oozing with honey flavor, rippled with a balsamic reduction and topped with chopped walnuts. Are you hungry now?
I’d love to say I am highly educated about Figs. I’m not. My main experience with figs is through their marriage with the ‘Newton’. Loved them as a kid and frankly never considered the gooey, sweet cookie center may have originated in nature. How I went from that to creating Honey-Mascarpone Ice Cream with Balsamic Drizzle, Grilled Figs and Walnuts is a bit of a round about path but you’ll be very glad I landed here once you taste this dessert!
It’s only been in the past years as I’ve overtly sought out produce to master that figs have surfaced on my radar. But I avoid them. Nestled amidst friendly, familiar summer fruits, the box of figs sits, like big fat brown-and-purple teardrops, foreign and intimidating.
I have not been able to bridge the what-do-I-do with-these feeling to envisage a reason to invite figs home with me. This is not my first trip at this rodeo. I’ve picked up indigenous produce around the world wondering how it might transform from its natural, seemingly inedible form, into something delicious and alluring. My natural instinct when experiencing this complete lack of inspiration is to start basic; prepare the produce as naturally as possible to explore its characteristics, texture, and flavors in its most natural form (kind of like getting to know a new friend in their element.)
This week boxes of Brown Turkey Figs sat primly amidst Donut Peaches, ripe raspberries, and apricots and instead of walking by hoping they did not spot me, I went in. I chatted with the produce guy about what Brown Turkey Figs were (a popular variety of fig) and learned people really like them; they’d just arrived and were flying off the shelf. Somehow bolstered by feeling in sync with the clearly in vogue figs, I grabbed two boxes, knowing immediate what I’d do with them. Grill them. Maybe not the most obvious choice but many fruits are fantastic when gently grilled. Their natural sweetness blossoms and is contrasted by the smoky grill notes.
Of course when you have a new guest visiting, you want them to feel comfortable amongst new surroundings. The grilled figs certainly called for a surrounding dish. The idea of making Mascarpone Ice Cream came to mind, with Honey (a wonderful sweetener with figs), Walnuts (another classic escort) with a Balsamic Vinegar reduction rippling through the ice cream. As soon as it was all planned out I quickly forget this was the fig debut in my kitchen and it felt like a comfortable gang of upscale friends were coming together for a perfect get together!
The Honey-Mascarpone Ice Cream is simple and quick. I decided not to toil over a custard process but rather combined some simple mascarpone, honey, half and half, lemon juice and salt, blending it up and pouring it into my ice cream maker. It turned out creamy and light with a clear flavor of mascarpone and honey. When lightly rippling the balsamic reduction together with the figs and walnuts it was nothing short of perfection. Certainly worth the wait for the figs!
This delicious recipe was originally published in August 2013 and has been updated in 2016.