One of the best results of the foodie craze that has swept through America is the increased availability of specialty produce that never made it to supermarkets in past years. Fresh, ripe figs are a fine example. Twenty years ago, an obliging friend with a backyard fig tree was the only source I could find. This warm, spiced hybrid of cake and pudding features fresh figs bathed in warm honey and cinnamon, cooked just until they are soft and tender.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease six 4-ounce ramekins with 1 Tablespoon of the softened butter and arrange them on an un-greased sheet pan and set aside. Melt the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter and set it aside to cool
- Spread the walnuts on another, parchment-lined sheet pan and toast in the oven until the walnuts are golden brown and aromatic. Remove the pan from the oven and spread the nuts on a clean plate or paper towel-lined counter to cool.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and all spices except one of the 1/2 teaspoon of the cinnamon, combine them thoroughly and set aside. Transfer the toasted, cooled walnuts to a food processor and process to grind them finely and set aside.
- Place the eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment and add granulated and light brown sugars. Beat on medium speed until the mixture is thick and pale, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, beat in the cooled, melted butter in a steady stream. Beat in the milk and vanilla extract.
- Beat in the dry ingredients, followed by the ground walnuts. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and slowly beat in the heavy cream.
- Let the batter sit while you prepare the figs. Cut the figs in half if they are small and in quarters if they are large and place them in a medium bowl. Place the honey and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon in a saucepan and heat until it just begins to simmer. Pour the warm honey and cinnamon mixture over the figs and toss to coat them.
- Give the batter a few turns with a rubber spatula divide it among the batter into the prepared ramekins. Bake the budinos for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they have begin to brown and puff; there should still be a bit of raw batter on the surface. Remove the pan from the oven and quickly top each ramekin with 2 or 3 pieces of the honey-coated figs. Return the pan to the oven and continue to bake the budinos for an additional 12 to 15 minutes, or until they have risen somewhat like a soufflé, are golden brown, and there is no visible rawness in the center.
- Remove the budinos from the oven and allow them to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving. Serve warm, dusted with confectioner’s sugar, with a dollop of whipped cream. Leftovers may be wrapped and stored at room temperature for up to three days.