Wednesday 7 August 2013

The Barren Fig Tree

I like Nigella's fluid and accessible writing style. I love the way she coined her words and some of the names of her dishes really cracked me up.Take this Arabian inspired desserts, Figs For A Thousand and One Nights.
A very simple dessert which can be done in 5 minutes which she says is scarcely a recipe really, but so good.
I have just bought some Israeli Figs from the supermarket. It was only recently the supermarkets here started selling fresh figs from Israel and Turkey. These were bought at a sales price of S$2.70 for 4. I have already bookmarked a recipe from Donna Hay's Fast Fresh Simple to to make a fig and gorgonzala tart,but changed my mind after I saw a bottle of rosewater and orange-flower water in the cupboard.

I was then baking Nigella's Kitchen Everyday Brownies for my sister. I have not opened the orange-flower water since I bought it from the Middle East two years ago. I remembered this recipe from Nigella's Forever Summer which uses both essence in this dessert.
While the brownies was baking in the oven, I quickly washed and quartered the figs and prepared the butter sauce. It was a very fast 1-2 minutes preparation.. As soon as the brownies was done, I increased the oven temperature to about 250C and grilled the figs for 5 minutes.

Figs For A Thousand and one Nights
Adapted from Forever Summer


12 black figs(4 green brownish figs)
50grams unsalted butter(12gms)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon(pinch)
1 tablespoon sugar(1 tsp)
1 1/2 tsps rosewater(1/2 tsp)
11/2 tsps orange-flower water(1/2 tsp)
500ml mascarpone cheese(vanilla ice cream)
100grams pistachios (silvered)(20 gms, chopped)


  • Preheat a grill or oven to the fiercest it will go.(oven, 250C)
  • Quarter the figs, taking care not to cut all the way through the bottom, and place in a heat proof dish into which they fit snugly.
  • Melt the butter in a small saucepan, then add the cinnamon, sugar and flower waters. Stir to combine and pour into the figs.
  • Blister under the hot grill or bake in the oven for a few minutes and then serve; it's that quick. Just give each person a couple of figs on a side plate. Splodge alongside some mascarpone over which you drizzle some of the conker-dark syrup, then sprinkle over some of those green,green shards of pistachio. (vanilla ice cream).

It is very good with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. One scoop is not enough to Feed for A Thousand and One Nights.

Note:One Thousand and One Nights is known in English as Arabian Nights. It is a compilation of folk tales from the West and South Asian in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age. Please note that "Ali Baba and Forty Thieves", "Sinbad", "Aladdin" are Middle Eastern folk tales, but were not part of Arabian Nights in Arabic versions.

These are the sliced Everyday Brownies I made today. I have baked them before and mudt have forgotten how good they were until I saw Zoe baked them with her son. I just love the gooey goop of chocolates. I used Valrhona cocoa powder and Cadbury dark chocolate bar 70%.

EveryDay Brownies
Adapted from Nigella's Kitchen


150g unsalted butter
300g light brown muscovado sugar
75g cocoa powder, sifted
150g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g dark chocolate, chopped into small chunks
icing sugar to dust


  • Preheat the oven to 190C.
  • Melt the butter over a gentle heat in a medium sized saucepan.(12in x 8in)
  • When it's melted, add the sugar, stirring with a wooden spoon (still over a low heat) to help it blend with the melted butter.
  • Sift together the cocoa powder, flour, bicarb,salt and then stir into the pan; when mixed (this will be a very dry mixture, and not wholly blended at this stage), remove from the heat.
  • In a bowl or jug, whisk the eggs with the vanilla extract and then mix into the brownie mixture in the pan.
  • Stir in the chopped chocolate and quickly pour and scrape into a baking tin and bake for approximately 20 minutes.
  • It will look set, dark and dry on top, but when you feel the surface, you will sense it is still wobbly underneath and a cake tester will come gooey. This is desirable.

This post is linked to Cook Like A Star 'Nigella Lawson' organised by Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids,
Joyce from Kitchen Flavours and Anuja from Simple Baking

Then he told this parable: "A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, 'for three years now I've been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven't found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?'
"'Sir,' the man replied, 'leave it alone for one more year, and i'll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! if not, then cut it down.'"  Luke 13:6-9

The barren fig tree represents people, and being "barren" represents sin. The parable tells us that the barren tree is given more time so it can produce fruit. If it continues being barren(sinful), eventually it will be cut down. We are just like the fig trees, unless we repent (become fruitful), we will surely perish.


  1. Hi Lian! Thank you for introducing such a simple, fun and interesting dessert!

    Definitely worth trying! :D

    1. Try it, perfect for a middle eastern theme dinner parties.

  2. Hi Lian,
    A delightful dessert feast with Nigella! Both the figs and brownies look wonderful! I have yet to try the fresh figs, can't seem to find them in the area where I live. Looks yummy eaten with the ice cream. And I have an unopened bottle of rosewater too, bought about a month ago! :)
    Thank you for linking!

    1. Hi Joyce, I heard the best figs are the black mission figs and I would love to try those.

  3. I love fig but the last I had was tasteless and not nice. Wish we have more choices or brands to chose from afterall, it is not cheap to eat these.

    1. Agree with you, Edith Most of the figs sold are a bit overripe and not sweet. This recipe is good for them.

  4. Lovely dessert! your brownies are also looking heavenly....OMG m drooling all over the place :)

  5. Lovely choices from Nigella, perfectly done by you!

  6. Hi Lian, both desserts look so heavenly! Like those served in a restaurant!

    1. Hi Jasline, Thanks for your kind comment.

  7. Hi Lian,

    Making two desserts for 1 post... Wow! Glad that you like Nigella's everyday brownies. It is so easy to bake.


    1. Yes, Zoe, two easy desserts within an hour. Great!

  8. why didn't I buy the figs I saw at the supermarket the other day...*sigh*
    I should have! hope I'm lucky to still see figs in my next trip to supermarket :)
    your pics tempted me to try, too
    and look at those gooey fudgy brownies...yumz!
    GBU :)

    1. Hi Alice, Be selective when you see these figs at the supermarket, especially NTUC. They are too ripe.

  9. the fig dessert sounds interesting and nice to end a meal with..something unique to me and thx for sharing the bible verse

    1. Hi Lena, glad you like the verse. I think this dessert is quite impressive though it is really nothing much.

  10. Lian, I love how your figs look and your bible verse which is very apt. Although I have never tasted figs before, I believe next time I see them, I won't shun them but I'll try this recipe with them. By the way, your brownies look gooey-ily good ;)


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