Whenever I think of molasses it's not really Spiced Cookies or Gingerbread that come to mind. Instead, the first tasty memory is not of baked goods of any sort but that of my friend Alfie's Candied Brisket and Short Ribs recipes, my friend R's marinade for grilling salmon (with espresso) and my favorite salmon of all, Yukon River King.
Yukon River King Salmon season is almost here and the lovely days we've been having in the city have given me a craving for this smoky, sweet and ultra succulent dish. Alas! For this particular Sugar High Friday exercise, Derrick's chosen ingredient was to be used in a dessert and not a savory entry.
So, that meant my salmon would have to wait but in the meantime I could still come up with something creative, sweet, simple and practical so it was a matter of looking around the pantry for inspiration.
There were dried Black Mission Figs in the pantry that I wanted to use them for my entry. Of course! I'm absolutely bonkers about figs and keep them around at all times, especially during the months when the fresh fruit is not available at the market.
We also had fig and pomegranate molasses around. Since I use these often in marinades, grilled and roasted dishes there were not to be an option for today. I was looking to create something completely different that utilized what most people, at least in the USA, know as classic molasses, the real deal: Blackstrap Molasses.
The rationale behind choosing to use this ooey, gooey and intensely flavored kind was simple really. Not only was molasses the required element for our bloggity endeavor but I was hoping to create a recipe that would showcase and enhance the fig with a rich and viscous saucy syrup that while flavorful would not be overly sweet, overly dark or too heavy.
The idea was for the earthy flavor of the figs to shine through the robust, full bodied quality of the thickest, darkest and richest of all types of molasses available in the market today.
Just the slightest amount of blackstrap (a tablespoon in fact) added a gorgeous dark amber tone, a certain nuance, a slightly smoky and woody depth of flavor and an unctuous, glossy and syrupy texture to the fruit's thickened liquid that no other sweetener--not even honey--could provide.
The resulting conserve is ridiculously easy to prepare (I made it this morning before heading out to work) yet looks absolutely decadent and rendered truly beautifully sweet, shiny and utterly figgy little gems.
It shall be delicious any time of the year but especially for Pesach. Serve it warm with rack of lamb, baby lamb chops or brisket. This conserve will pair up famously with ham, pork tenderloin, roasted pheasant, duck or game hens. I can't wait to have it as an accompaniment to a cheese platter in place of our usual fruit paste, Membrillo or Mostarda d'Uva.
The conserve, served cold, for dessert, with a dollop of crème fraîche should be lovely. Tonight, after returning home from McCaw Hall, I had a little bit of the compote as a topping for a bit of my beloved Fage Greek yogurt. It was also wonderful!
The rest of the conserve has been stored in the refrigerator, in a wide mouth jam jar, to be polished off during the next week or so and tomorrow night with whichever little bird we pick up at Exotic Meats for dinner.
Fig & Molasses Conserve
- 12 oz dried figs
- 3 cups water
- ¼ cup ultrafine sugar
- 2 teaspoons potato starch
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon grated orange peel
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ cup fresh orange juice
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon Blackstrap molasses (Kosher, Organic, Unsulfured)
Place figs and water in saucepan. Bring to hard boil, then lower heat and simmer covered, for about 30 minutes or until figs are plump and tender. Drain figs, reserving 1/4 cup of the simmering liquid.
In a second saucepan, stir together sugar, potato starch, cinnamon, orange peel, and nutmeg. Slowly stir in orange juice and reserved fig liquid. Add honey and molasses.
Stir mixture with small whisk while it thickens and bubbles up a bit. Add figs. Continue cooking for about 15 minutes more until it reaches desired thickness. Figs should be soft but still whole.