A simple and elegant fig dessert adapted from The Italian Country Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper. In Italian it's called Fichi al Miele e Vino, which sounds as lovely as it tastes!
1/2 pound Dried Calymyrna Figs, whole
1 bottle Pino Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc or other dry white wine of your preference
1 cup water
1/2 cup honey
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup sugar
1 T. ground fennel seed, or fennel pollen
1 small orange
1 whole clove
Fresh ground pepper, 4-6 good grindings (or 1/2 t ground pepper)
2 inch piece of cinnamon stick, whole
1. Zest the orange in wide strips (no white pith!)
2. Combine everything except the figs in a large, heavy saucepan and brint to a boil. Simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by about half - 2 cups or so - and become thickened and syrupy.
3. Add the figs and simmer, uncovered, until the figs are done. This will take about 20 minutes or so but keep watch. The figs should be tender when pierced with a sharp knife, but not yet falling apart or mushy.
4. You can refrigerate the figs in the syrup for a day if you want, but it's not necessary. Next, remove the figs to the side and boil the syrup until it has again reduced by half - about a cup will remain. The syrup will be thick and intensely flavorful.
5. Add the figs back to the pot and cool to room temperature. Serve in small bowls or plates with syrup spooned over. A little heavy cream drizzled on top, or vanilla ice cream, is extra nice!