ricotta and figs (or figs and ricotta?)

Is there a more perfect fruit than the fig? Their Biblical origins, that mysterious skin cloaking vibrant colored flesh, their sweet, yet green, taste. In a world where we can get virtually anything on demand, I love that figs still have a season, and a fleeting one at that. They appear silently on my grocery store shelves sometime in September, and then disappear a few weeks later.

During those fleeting fall days, I eat as many as I can get my hands on, often doing nothing more than pinching the stems off between my fingers before devouring them in two or three bites. I’m rarely tempted to do anything fancier; they’re too good on their own.

Recently though, I found myself with almost a half-gallon of milk that was about to expire. Not wanting to waste it, I decided to make ricotta. One of my favorite desserts is a recipe for “Grilled stone fruits with sweetened ricotta” that I cut out of a newspaper years ago. While I don’t often grill stone fruits, I adore making sweetened ricotta, either to pair with fruit compote or to eat on it’s own, like a warm dish of ice cream. If the idea of sweetened cheese sounds revolting to you, think of cheesecake or cannoli. Not gross at all, is it?

Homemade ricotta is about a thousand times better than the store-bought stuff, and ridiculously easy to make (See my guide to five-minute ricotta, here). That said if you simply don’t want to play little Miss Muffett and separate curds and whey, you can of course use store-bought. I won’t tell.

After making the sweetened ricotta, it was just a matter of making a fig and ricotta parfait, with a bit of honey drizzled for good measure. If this doesn’t make you happy, nothing will.

Ricotta and figs

2 cups fresh ricotta cheese (homemade or otherwise)
2-4 Tablespoons milk or cream (use more if your ricotta is dry. You want a smooth consistency.)
4 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 pint figs, quartered
2-3 Tablespoons honey (whatever you love/have)

In a medium-sized bowl combine ricotta and 2 Tablespoons milk. If consistency is still dry add more milk. Stir until smooth and then add sugar and vanilla. Portion into four glasses or bowls and then top with figs. Drizzle with honey and serve.