What more romantic dessert could there be than one of figs and red cherries? Add to the charm that you can make Vanilla Figs and Dried Cherries in a slow cooker so it takes almost no work, and it is a perfect dish for Valentine’s Day.
Tart dried cherries balance the sweet nature of the figs. You can use any manner of dried fig, whether they are black or green, moist or dehydrated. This dessert is a snap and only takes three to four hours on low in a slow cooker.
2 cups water
½ to ¾ of a whole vanilla bean, split in half but halves left attached at the end
½ cup mild honey
¼ cup Sucanat or sugar alternative (see Care2′s Directory of Natural Sweeteners)
½ pound whole dried figs
1/3 cup dried tart cherries
1 recipe Rum Whipped Cream (recipe follows)
1. Combine the water, vanilla bean, honey, sugar, figs, and cherries in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW until the figs are soft, three to four hours.
2. Turn off the cooker, remove the lid, and let cool a bit before serving warm or at room temperature with the whipped cream. Or transfer to an airtight container, refrigerate, and serve cold. You may store in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Rum Whipped Cream
1 cup cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons Sucanat (see above)
2 tablespoons golden rum
½ cup full-fat sour cream
1. Place a medium-size bowl and the beaters of an electric mixer in the freezer for at least one hour to chill thoroughly.
2. Combine the heavy cream, sugar, and rum in the chilled bowl. Whip on high speed with an electric mixer until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. Fold in the sour cream. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to six hours before serving.
Makes 2¼ cups.
Adapted from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker, by Beth Hensperger et al (Harvard Common Press, 2007).