This is a very fun and tasty dessert that makes use of the delicious and classic combination of fig, honey and walnut. It can be a little messy and fiddly to make but it’s worth it as you end up with a delicious and sweet dessert that is both crispy and soft. I like to use small green figs for this recipe as they tend to be firmer and hold up to the rest of the dish. They are also the perfect size that allows the batter to cook nicely while and the figs have a chance to get warmed through.
- 110 ml milk
- 7 g dried yeast (1 packet)
- 25 g butter, softened
- 15 g caster sugar
- 1 egg
- 150 g plain flour
- river salt
- 9 small green figs
- 9 walnuts
- 120 g mascarpone, to serve
- 100 ml honey
- 30 ml water
- ½ tsp black peppercorns
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 sprig of rosemary
- 1 piece of lemon peel
- vegetable oil, for deep frying
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time 1 hour
To make the spiced honey, in a small saucepan add the honey, water spices and peel. Bring it to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Let it sit until it cools to room temperature, allowing all the flavours to infuse. At this stage, you can strain the honey into a jar but if you don’t mind a few stray herbs, I’d let them sit in the honey.
To make the fritole batter, in a small saucepan, warm the milk to about 35°C, transfer to a bowl, add the yeast and use a fork to mix it until it all dissolves.
Whisk in the butter, sugar and egg.
Sift the flour into a separate bowl, add a pinch of salt and then whisk in the milk mix until a smooth batter forms. Transfer this mix to a larger, oiled mixing bowl. The batter grows quite a lot. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot for about an hour or until the mixture doubles.
Meanwhile, gently stuff each fig with a walnut. The best way to do this is to make a small incision in the base of the fig and then push the nut into the middle of the fig so it’s all inside.
Once the batter is ready, get a fig and dip it in the batter. The batter should be sticky enough to allow you kind of pull it around the fig until it’s fully encased. Don’t worry if it’s a little messy and not perfectly formed. Place the covered fig on an oiled tray and repeat, laying them all out so they have plenty of room. Set the tray aside while you get your oil ready to go.
Use a large heavy based saucepan and add enough oil to come up about 8 cm. This step of course does depend on how big your saucepan is, you need an acceptable amount of space and oil so your fritole have ample room to float around and get crispy. You also need to make sure your pot isn’t too full otherwise you could have messy and dangerous over flowing issues. Either heat oil to 180°C using a thermometer, or simply heat until when you flick a little of the batter into the oil it sizzles and rises to the top straight away. You will probably need to fry the fritole in batches, in this case set up a wire rack over a tray somewhere warm so you can rest them as you go.
Oil your hands slightly and gently cup the fig, making sure it’s covered in batter, before lowering it into the oil. As you drop each fig in the oil it should form a nice round shape. Repeat with the first 4 figs using a slotted spoon to keep them moving around and frying evenly. Cook for about 3 minutes or until the batter starts turning golden brown. Remove from the pot and transfer to your wire covered tray.
Once all the figs are cooked and resting, lay out 6 plates. Place a whole fritole on each plate and cut the remaining 3 in half so you can also place a half, cut side up on the plate. This is so your guests can admire how pretty they are on the inside.
Serve with a nice dollop of mascarpone, a good drizzle of the spiced honey, a small pinch of river salt and a little turn of black pepper.
• Like I said, the dough can be a little messy to work with but once you’ve got the hang of it its applications are endless. There are many good things that taste delicious battered and deep-fried.
Photography by Benito Martin. Styling by Trish Heagerty.