Guaranteed to Make You A Fig Fan

Fresh figs are the cilantro of the fruit world.

People tend to either lust after them or loathe them.

If they grew up hating Fig Newtons, most likely they never even dared to bite into the plump, intensely sweet fresh version.

More’s the pity.

Because people, I’m here to tell you: Give fresh figs a chance, OK?

How can you not love a fruit so squishy soft, so uniquely gorgeous looking, and nearly port-like in flavor?

I sure do. That’s why when I was leafing through the new cookbook, “Good to the Grain” (Stewart, Tabori & Chang), which I recently received a copy of from the publisher, it was the recipe for “Fig Compote” that jumped out at me.

It’s a cinch to make using fresh figs, a little butter, a bit of honey, some dark brown sugar and a pinch of salt. It cooks in a flash on the stovetop, then under the broiler. In mere minutes, you have a compote that’s thick, glossy, and syrupy, almost like fig caramel sauce.

The book, by Kim Boyce, a former pastry chef at Spago and Campanile (both in Los Angeles), is all about baking with whole grains, particularly ones that are less familiar, such as amaranth flour and kamut flour.

Obviously, there are no grains in this compote. But it’s an ideal accompaniment to your morning bowl of oatmeal. wholegrain waffles or Boyce’s recipe in the book for barley porridge.

Or do what I like to do: While it’s still warm, spoon the fig compote over ice cream for an unforgettable treat that’s a perfect ending to even a fancy dinner party. If that doesn’t make a fig lover out of you, trust me, nothing will.

Fig Compote

(Makes 1 cup)

1/2 pound fresh figs

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons dark brown sugar

3 tablespoons honey

Pinch of kosher salt

Preheat your broiler. Cut stem off each fig, slice fig in quarters, and set aside.

Add butter, brown sugar, and honey to a cast-iron pan or a medium broiler-proof saute pan. Cook for about 1 minute over high heat, stirring frequently, until syrup begins to bubble. Add figs and stir to coat them with the syrup.

Place pan under broiler to caramelize figs. Protecting your hand with an oven mitt or towel, swirl the pan a few times over the next 5 minutes to prevent sugar and figs from burning. The figs are done when the syrup is thickened slightly and amber in color, and the edges of the figs are dark and glossy. Remove the pan from the broiler and serve figs while they’re still warm.

From “Good to the Grain” by Kim Boyce

Another Figgy Good Recipe: Chicken Fricasse with Figs and Port Sauce

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  • A wonderful compote!



  • ‘Give fresh figs a chance’ – LOL! I love figs and this compote looks irresistible!

  • I do indeed like fresh figs! And I have even contemplated this exact recipe (I like the book!) Now I definitely want to make it.

  • It’s so hard to get nice fresh figs here, so I usually go for the dried ones. Great snack!

  • This looks really good! I am already a fig fan but now you have made me a bigger fan 😀

  • I know exactly what you mean about figs being like cilantro–I fall in the bucket of folks that are obsessed with both. I could eat bunches of cilantro and bunches of figs and be happy as a clam. When figs come into season, I find myself buying more than I could ever eat, so this recipe is perfect! I have been trying a lot of things from Good to the Grain, but haven’t made it to the jams/compotes. Excited to try it!

  • I have never tried fresh figs, I don’t know why. I love the color of the flesh contrasted with their skin as pictured above. I’m simply going to have to try this and see if I can add it to my “I Love This Food” list.

  • I love figs but have been limited to Newtons and straight-up fresh. Definitely must try the yummy compote.

  • It took me awhile to get used to the mushy texture of a ripe fig, but I find cooking them either on a grill or like this into a compote is always a nice way to go!

  • This is the best way to eat figs. In one version, we tossed in a bit of balsamic, ginger and fresh orange zest which added nice flavor. It makes the figs pop!

  • I love fresh figs so much I usually hate to change its natural perfect taste by cooking it. Maybe I’ll sacrifice a few to try this recipe because you make it sound so irresistible, especially your recommendation to spoon it over ice cream. Sounds decadent!

  • Just looking at the photos makes me want to try this compote right away! It just sounds divine over ice cream.

  • I ADORE figs. I can eat 2 pints in one sitting if I could. I also love cilantro. The SO doesn’t like either of them. More for me! hah!

  • I’m not a fig fan but will use this as my excuse to become one. One half pound of fresh figs is on my shopping list!!

  • I actually grew up loving Fig Newton but don’t remember the last time I’ve had a fresh fig. This looks amazing!

  • I confess, I have never eaten figs. Now I don’t know if I should try cos I don’t like cilantro 🙁

  • I like figs, but I haven’t eaten any in a long time. I’ll have to make this compote and eat it with my oatmeal… Sounds amazing! I can almost taste it…

  • Wish we have fresh figs here… Would love to know how they taste like!

    Oh well, meanwhile, i’ll just go snack on the dried ones.. 🙂

  • Was there supposed to be a hyperlink to the cookbook? I think I’ve seen this cookbook being featured on 101 cookbook, too. Sounds like a great book. 🙂

  • I was already a fig addict so having to LOOK at this and not being able to reach out and eat it – TORTURE!

  • I absolutely love this cookbook! I think it is my favorite on the shelf right now, although I need to get busy making more from it.

    Your photos of figs are beautiful! I didn’t care for them much until I started experiencing them more in desserts in Brazil. There were chopped figs on fruit pizzas and fig fillings in cakes. I learned to really enjoy them.

  • Superb compote adore figs and it’s a classic in jam for breakfast! with butter 😉



  • Goodness, who doesn’t like figs? Crazy, I tell ya! Your compote looks fit for a king. Lush.

  • hello figs! I’d like that last photo blown up and framed in my kitchen, it’s really really gorgeous. The book sounds interesting too, I love pastries but whole grains make me feel better!

  • This sounds so good as a topping for ice cream! I have to try this with some local figs.

  • I still remember how stunned I was the first time I had fresh figs – this was after growing up with Fig Newton’s mind you, so I could only go up! This compote sounds amazing and I am already dreaming of the possibilities.

  • I did not know figs are the cilantro of the fruit world! How can that be? Ha but I have to confess the first time I tried figs, I did not know how to eat it. I scoop the flesh and eat it not knowing the skin can be taken as well. How stupid I am….:O

  • Your photo of the compote is just gorgeous and makes me want to get to cooking my own batch. Did you know the fig is actually the flower of the fig tree, but it isn’t visible because it’s inside the fruit.The opening in the bottom end of the fig (the ostiole) is a special passage for the fig wasp to enter and pollinate the flower, after which the fruit grows seeds inside. Pretty interesting.

  • although i’ve never tasted a fresh fig, i can state with certainty that it’s one of the most photogenic and presentable fruits in the world. note to self: try fresh figs!

  • I do have some figs in the garden. Great way of cooking them. Thanks.

  • This can only be described as food fit for the gods – and me.

  • OMG! those figs you have there looked delicious, the ones here imported looked rather green and not too exciting

  • you know, normally I wouldn’t even think to try figs (I always thought they looked funny) but after reading this recipe- its making me change my mind 🙂

  • Oh, I LOVE figs and I grew up HATING Fig Newtons. I’m glad that someone finally convinced me to try an actually fig. Fig Newtons give figs a bad name,

  • I love and miss figs.

    Can you cut the sugar on this recipe if you use super ripe figs?

  • it must be sooo delicious!

  • try it on pizza with caramellized onions and goat cheese . i kid thee not!

  • Hi! We’re not fortunate enough to get any fresh figs here in our country, but would frozen figs do for this recipe? If yes, would it be the same process? 🙂

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  • Just made the fig compote as instructed. Terrific! Then added some red wine and walnuts. Also successful! Now looking for a mango chutney recipe…

  • I make ice cream and have been looking for the perfect way to create a rich and delicious fig mixture. You are a genius! I followed this recipe, (minus the caramelizing) and whipped goat cheese. Then combined into my ice cream base (proportions needed adjusting due to sugar in figs and fat in goat cheese) BUT it is a magical mix!!! Thanks so much.

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  • just made these – oh the smell! thanks for the quick, simple recipe!

  • Loved the recipe and thanks for sharing!

  • 1. how long does the compote last?
    2. can I add grapes to it ? if so, do I just add the grapes, or sub 1.4s lb of figs for grapes

  • Chad: The compote should keep at least a week in the fridge. And sure, I don’t see why you can’t add grapes to the compote. You can probably do either — make it with all grapes or a mix of grapes and figs. Just note that the grapes will cook faster under the broiler, so watch them carefully.

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  • Really delicious – thanks for the great recipe! Will be trying it over Greek yogurt for breakfast tomorrow morning with some walnuts on top!

  • Broiling now….I added dutch cinnamon to it….. you ought to smell my house now….absolutely devine. I look forward to have it with my Kefir yogurt for brekkie tomorrow or shall I have it tonight as dessert? Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  • Annikin: I think you should have a little for dessert tonight, then more for breakfast. After all, you can’t wait an entire night to try it. That would be a crime. Enjoy! 😉

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