Baked Figs with Maple and Creamy Brie, the perfect match of savory cheese with sweet figs and maple syrup. Four ingredients, one pan and endless praise for this simple yet rich and indulgent dish.
Your opinion is needed: is a dish of baked figs with maple syrup and creamy brie that is served with crispy crostini an appetizer or dessert? One could argue that creamy and savory goat cheese with a side of bread is absolutely an appetizer but on the other hand the sweetness of baked figs and maple syrup could easily put this dish in the dessert category.
Either way, it’s damn delicious.
Before we get to the recipe, let’s take a moment to talk about figs…
The history and magic of figs and fig trees.
Did you know figs have a long and rich history that intertwines with the birth of human civilization? The history of the fig tree is wrapped tightly around the history of humans, with human consumption of figs dating back to Mesopotamia and beyond. Many of our human ancestors (including our pre-human ancestors!) depended on figs as a source of food and also chewed the bark of fig trees for medicinal purposes. So one could say humans evolved with the fig tree.
The fig tree is found in human mythology and religion, with even the Buddha himself attaining enlightened under a tree bearing figs. From ancient Asia, to Babylon, to Egypt and into Greece and Rome, figs have followed and flourished in every human civilization since the beginning of our times.
Is it true every fig has a dead wasp inside?
Well, yes and no.
Recently the internet went crazy with fig and wasp stories after a video depicting a wasp laying larvae inside a fig went viral. The truth is that wasps and figs are tightly bound to one another. Each of the 750 different types of fig trees depends on an individual species of wasp as pollinators and wasps depend on fig trees year-round for food (in their native climates) and as a site for laying eggs.
So are there dead wasps in figs? BBC’s Science Focus has the answer:
“Certain types of fig are male and female and so require a special breed of wasp to pollinate the females. The female wasp crawls inside through a hole so narrow that she loses her wings in the process and becomes trapped. If the fig is a male, she lays her eggs inside. These hatch into larvae that burrow out, turn into wasps and fly off, carrying fig pollen with them. If the wasp climbs into a female fig, she pollinates it, but cannot lay her eggs and just dies alone. Luckily for us, the female fig produces an enzyme that digests this wasp completely. The crunchy bits are seeds, not wasp parts.”
Baked, stewed, raw…5 easy ways to cook with figs.
So now you’re saying, “Yeah, that’s great about fig history and all, but how do I cook figs?”
Raw figs have a mild, sweet and grainy taste but it’s important to remember that like most fruits the flavor of figs changes dramatically when cooked. When heated figs’ sweetness becomes much more intense and pairs well with strong and savory flavors.
Here are a few ideas for how to cook figs and incorporate them into your meals:
- Baked figs: baking figs is super easy and the below recipe for Baked Figs with Maple and Creamy Brie can be customized to fit any flavor combination. Try drizzling figs in honey or balsamic and topping with nuts or seeds before baking. Or use figs in baked goods like galettes, muffins or scones.
- Use figs as a topping. Figs lend a mild sweetness to most any dish and are delicious on top of oatmeal, yogurt, sweet grain bowls or even stewed and served over certain meats (pork goes well with sweet toppings).
- Use figs in your smoothies. Move over strawberries and cherries, figs are the next smoothie sensation! Substitute figs for your usual sweet smoothie ingredient for a summer flavor change. And let me know your smoothie flavor combination (I need ideas!).
- Make a fig cocktail. Of course you should experiment with figs and alcohol! Figs could pair well with most any spirit; try using them in a white wine sangria, a mojito or muddle them with herbs and top with a shot of bourbon. Have with with creating new cocktail ideas!
When are figs in season?
For those in the United States, figs usually come in season twice throughout the year: once in June or early July (called the “breba” season) and again in late August through October (or the “new wood season”). Check with your local farmer’s market or grocery store for when figs are in season in your area.
Baked Figs with Brie and Maple
Baked Figs with Brie and Maple Syrup, the perfect match of savory and sweet. Four ingredients and one pan for this simple yet indulgent dish.
- Prep Time: 5 mins
- Cook Time: 15 mins
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 6 servings
- Category: Veggies, Fruits & Sides
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Mediterranean
- 8-10 figs, quartered
- 4 oz goat’s milk brie
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 loaf bread (I used ciabatta)
- Heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Place brie in center of a glass baking dish. Arrange slices of brie around cheese and top figs with maple syrup.
- Bake for about 15 minutes, or until figs begin to brown. In the meantime, slice bread into 1/2 inch slices.
- When figs have a few minutes left to cook, place bread directly on oven rack for 1-2 minutes, or until crisp.
- Remove both fig dish and bread from oven and eat immediately while cheese is melted.
- Where to shop: I bought all three ingredients at Trader Joe’s and used the Goat’s Milk Brie found in the cheese aisle (also depicted in this Bon Appetit article).
- Leftovers: the dish can be kept in the refrigerator for up to two days, but I don’t suggest keeping it longer because after the cheese is heated and then cooled it becomes very hard. Leftover toasted bread will stale quickly, so retoast bread if you reheat the dish again.
- How much? The beauty of this dish is that it can be made for under $10! However, shopping at a specialty store may increase the total recipe cost because figs, cheese and maple syrup can be pricey items.
- Serving Size: 1 serving (about 1/6 recipe)
- Calories: 277