We have a fig tree up on the road, our neighbours planted it many years ago, and passers-by help themselves with the fruit every Autumn. More than harvesting I would say that this is foraging, in the Waitakere Ranges there are several fig trees, and everybody can pick the fruit, possibly before the birds do (they spread the seeds and fig trees are becoming a noxious weed in the bush!).
For this recipe I used a 250 g bar of Whittaker's Dark Ghana Chocolate. Break the chocolate and melt with 100 g of butter (salted, if you can). In the meantime divide 3 eggs and beat the whites into stiff peaks.
Stir the melted chocolate and butter with a spatula or spoon, then add 2 tbsp of sugar, the 3 egg yolks, 1 tsp vanilla paste (or a few drops of pure vanilla essence) and 3 tbsp self-rising flour.
Gently fold in the egg whites.
Wash and cut the figs into halves, then place, cut-size down, into a baking tin lined with baking paper.
Cover with the chocolate mixture and bake at 180°C for approximately 30 minutes: the sides of the cake should look perfectly cooked, but the centre should still be a little tender and moist.
Wait at least 5 hours before tipping the cake onto a serving dish and removing the baking paper from the top (and what a pretty pattern!). This cake is semi-soft and very chocolatey, and the figs give colour as well as pairing well with dark chocolate. As an alternative you can also use pears.
Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©