Note: This dessert, inspired by Lindsay Shere, is equally good with fresh or dried figs. If you use the dark black Mission variety, they will need very little trimming. These can be halved. If you use green Kadota figs, quarter and trim the excess stem from the top. Simply trim and quarter dried figs.
1/2 cup fine-quality freshly ground coffee
1 quart half-and-half
5 egg yolks
1 1/4 cups sugar
1. Place the coffee and half-and-half in a saucepan over low heat. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. This allows both the flavor and the color of the coffee to come through.
2. Line a strainer with a double layer of cheesecloth and place the strainer over a clean saucepan. Pour the mixture through the strainer to remove all trace of coffee grounds. You may have to repeat this procedure.
3. Beat the egg yolks and sugar until they form a ribbon that holds its shape when the beater is lifted from the mixture, about 1 minute. Stir into the coffee mixture and cook over low heat until the mixture coats the back of a spoon, about 10 to 15 minutes. Pour into a bowl and place in a larger bowl filled with ice water. Freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions.
Figs in red wine and lavender
1 cup young, fruity red wine
1/3 cup honey
1 sprig fresh lavender
3/4 pound fresh figs (about 16)
or 16 dried figs, stems
1. Simmer the wine over low heat for 20 minutes to cook off the alcohol and soften the wine. Do not let it boil. Dissolve the honey in the wine and add the lavender.
2. Cut the figs into quarters and add to the wine mixture. Poach gently just until softened and warmed through, 4 to 5 minutes for fresh figs, 10 to 15 minutes for dried. Remove from the heat and cool. Makes about 2 cups of sauce.