A few years ago, I asked to take my family’s BBQ grill. Sitting in my parents’ garage, I knew that my parents rarely used it (having opt to use the grill at a swimming pool club because it didn’t require our maintenance or cleanup). Not having the space in my San Francisco apartment, I left it at Chris’ apartment where he had a backyard. Where one summer, BBQ was the only word that escaped from my lips as the evening approached.
During those years when I dreamed of BBQing, anything that was given to me…I naturally brainstormed a way to BBQ it. At work, one day, my coworker brought bags of figs, lamenting about how they kept dropping like bombs in his backyard. Fragrant sticky juicy bombs.
“Fantastic,” I said. “I’ll think of a way to BBQ it.”
I personally never liked figs, having been destroyed by the horrible taste of Fig Newtons. But to my surprise, real figs were different. I googled and discovered the concept of bacon-wrapped things. Thus, that is how bacon-wrapped figs (and goat cheese, of course, due to my love of unmelted cheese) rose to prominence in my life.
After returning from Ohio, I aimed to be inspired by things around me. While at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream (an excellent shop in Columbus), I had the world-reowned goat cheese ice cream with sour cherries ice cream. I am not quite sure what drew me in so much. Creamy, smooth, sour…then with a fresh finish of fruit. Jeni’s mission is to use ingredients around her—sourcing from local producers and seasonal ingredients.
So when I thought of a goat cheese ice cream. I immediately thought of figs and bacon. Let’s do it! Out of all the flavors created, this has been my favorite so far. Rich and intense. Yet with a clean finish!
For the caramelized figs
1 basket of figs, quartered and stemmed
1/4 cup honey (use good quality honey)
pinch of salt
lemon or lime juice
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoon of liquor (I used sherry)
1 cinnamon stick
In a saucepan, combine all the ingredients. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to medium. Cook until the mixture is like jam, around 30 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
For the candied bacon
Inspiration from our favorite ice cream maker, David Lebovitz
5-6 strips of bacon
1-2 tsp brown sugar for each strip
Preheat oven to 400 F° (200 C°).
On a baking sheet (using parchment paper or aluminum foil), lay strips of bacon evenly. Sprinkle 1-2 tsp of brown sugar evenly across each strip. Be generous!
Place into oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes. At the halfway mark, flip the bacon strips over and dredge (love this word!) them through the dark molasses collected on the baking sheet. Continue to bake until dark (but not burnt!). Remove from oven. Cool on wire rack or on paper towels to collect excess oil.
Chop or use a mini food processor to chop into small pieces—suitable as a topping or mix-in.
For the ice cream base
2 cups half and half
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 cup (about 4 ounces) fresh goat cheese (get really good cheese from an artisan creamery, I got mine from my favorite cheese shop, Cowgirl Creamery)
3 tbsp. cream cheese, softened
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
1/8 cup water
In a small bowl, mix about 2 tablespoons of half and half with the cornstarch to make a smooth slurry.
In a separate large bowl, whisk goat cheese, cream cheese and salt until smooth.
In a saucepan, combine the remaining half and half, sugar, and water. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and gradually whisk in the slurry. Return the saucepan to medium heat. Stir. Remove from heat when the mixture is thickens, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese mixture until smooth
Chill thoroughly at least 3 hours or overnight. Once chilled, churn in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Five minutes until the end of churning (or when it looks like it’s almost solid), mix in the candied bacon. (Or alternatively, I sprinkled it with the caramelized figs in the next step.) Then scoop the base into an empty container. After every scoop, swirl in the caramelized figs. Let freeze. Serve with the fresh chopped or sliced figs. Or even on its own! It’s that good!