Figs are an integral part of Cape cuisine. The traditionally preserved fig served with cheese is always a joy.
This dessert, however, uses fresh figs, when they’re in season, with goat’s cheese, gooseberries and spices redolent of the old Spice Route. It’s the Cape on a dessert plate. But the key ingredient is Achim von Arnim’s luscious Ratafia. (Having said that, you could, of course, substitute a liqueur such as Drambuie, Cointreau or good old-fashioned Van der Hum, adjusting the quantity to your taste.)
Take a slug of the Ratafia and pour the rest into a pot. Try to resist the temptation to down the lot. If you do, pour another 150 ml Ratafia into the pot and start again. Add the star anise, cinnamon and cardamom pods (whole) and bring to a gentle simmer. Allow to bubble very gently until reduced by about a third.
Add the gooseberries and simmer for 5 minutes.
Cut a cross into the narrow top end of each fig, and place on a baking tray.
Spoon soft feta into each cross and press down a little. Spoon 1 Tbs of the Ratafia liquor over each fig. Grind a little back pepper over. Bake in a 180 .C oven for about 10 minutes. Keep the sauce warm in the pot.
Spoon the figs onto dessert plates or into glass bowls and scatter the gooseberries around. Use a slotted spoon to remove the whole spices from the hot liquor. Be generous in pouring over the liquor. A dollop of whipped cream would not go amiss.
150 ml Pierre Jourdan Ratafia
1 piece cinnamon bark
4 cardamom pods
8 Cape gooseberries
3 figs per portion
3 Tbs soft sheep’s (or goat’s)
milk feta per portion
(must be creamy)
grinding of black pepper
whipped cream (optional)