figgy, not pudding {life}

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We have some parties under our belts and some coming up ahead of us, so I thought it might be nice to write a bit about one of my favorite appetizers. Hello stuffed figs wrapped with prosciutto, nice to meet you.

I can't think about figs without thinking of my friend Marianne. They are a quintessential late summer treat here in Virginia, and I can clearly remember her joy, one long-ago summer when we were first becoming friends, and another friend of ours named Shelly mentioned that she had a fig tree with more fruit than she knew what to do with. My next image in that filmstrip of memories is of a sun-warmed paper bag full of figs, bursting with sweetness.

Figs are decadent. Figs are sexy. They are lush and have texture. They are bold and unabashed. You either love them or you hate them, there's really no middle ground when it comes to figs.

Their season is short, a brief August window, during which I gobble up as many as I can in as many forms as I can. However this year my grocery store has been providing me with imports from California well into the fall. Figs are often, often paired with a salty ham like prosciutto to counterbalance their intense sweetness. Split down the middle, they can easily be stuffed with a soft cheese (goat cheese with honey makes a lovely filling) before warming in the oven.

For these figs, I choose a cheddar laced with chocolate (!).* The tang of the cheddar held the barest hint of cocoa, and it paired well with the heady honey sweetness of the figs. Once filled, wrap each fig in the thinnest prosciutto you can find and bake in a 375º oven until warm and the ham has browned and caramelized. Serve immediately.

Of course they're perfect just on their own too.