Farewell to Fresh Figs

Despite our failure to grow a fig tree in the back yard this summer, we still enjoyed these nougats fresh a number of times in late summer and early autumn, thanks to the abundance of them at Whole Foods. I had never eaten figs other than in Newtons, but over the last few years I’ve fallen for them. Fallen hard, especially fresh. What’ not to love with their luscious, juicy texture, their earthy sweetness, and the ever so slight crunch from their seeds? They've starred in salads, stuffed with blue cheese and wrapped in prosciutto, in baked goods, and even just eaten fresh for breakfast. The last ones we had found their way into muffins, which were light and fluffy with a tender crumb. The figs provide noticeable moistness and distinctly a figy flavor. The crunchy, rich brown sugar and oatmeal topping finishes these quite nicely.

And now, we say bonjour, until next season, fresh figs.
Fresh Fig Muffins
Makes 18

1/3 C firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 C quick-cooking oats, uncooked
3 T finely chopped walnuts
2 T butter, melted
1 t vanilla extract
1 1/2 C white whole wheat pastry flour
1 C all-purpose flour
1/2 C sugar
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 C chopped fresh figs (3/4 pound) – or – 1 C chopped fresh figs and 1/2 C dried cranberries (NOT Craisins)
1 C nonfat buttermilk
3 T vegetable oil
2 t vanilla extract
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Combine first 5 ingredients in a bowl; stir well, and set aside.

Combine flours and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl; make a well in center of mixture. Combine figs and next 4 ingredients; stir well. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moistened.

Divide batter evenly among 18 muffin cups coated with cooking spray, and sprinkle oat mixture evenly over muffins.

Bake at 400*F for 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove muffins from pans immediately, and let cool on a wire rack.

For muffin tops, bake at 375 and check at 11 minutes.

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