On a recent Garden Talk show Erin Presley, a horticulturist at Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison, was with us to talk about herbs. She made and brought with her a drink for me to try, and it was fantastic! I begged her for the recipe and she was happy to send it along. If you ever have access to fig leaves, please try it out!
Toasted Fig Leaf French Soda!
This recipe starts with simple syrup and cream both infused with the luxurious flavor of toasted fig leaves. Topped with sparkling water, the resulting beverage is simultaneously refreshing and decadent – reminiscent of sweet coconut and grassy matcha powder.
1) Harvest 20 fresh newer leaves from the edible fig plant, Ficus carica. Do NOT use the Ficus species commonly grown as houseplants such as Ficus elastica (rubber plant), Ficus lyrata (fiddle-leaf fig), or Ficus benjamina (weeping fig).
2) Wash and towel dry the leaves and lay in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Toast the leaves slightly in the oven, using a low broiler setting. Turn once mid-way. Leaves will turn tan and a bit crispy, and start to emit a smell similar to coconut.
Sign up for daily news!
Stay informed with WPR's email newsletter.
3) Use the toasted leaves to make toasted fig leaf simple syrup and infused cream.
a. Simple syrup: Combine 1 c sugar and 1 c water in a small saucepan on the stovetop and bring to a boil to dissolve all the sugar. Using half the fig leaves, break into smaller pieces and stir to submerge in the syrup. Remove from heat and set on the counter until syrup comes to room temperature.
b. Infused cream: In a small saucepan in the stovetop, warm 1.5 c heavy whipping cream or half and half to a very gentle simmer. Add the other half of the toasted fig leaves (broken into small pieces) and stir into the cream. Simmer gently on the stovetop for about 2 minutes then remove from heat. Store the cream + leaf mixture over night in the refrigerator for maximum infusion of fig leaf flavor.
c. Strain the syrup and infused cream, pushing the leaf remnants into the side of the strainer or colander to squeeze out the most flavorful liquids from the leaves.
4) To make the soda, fill a glass with ice and add 2 Tbsp fig leaf syrup, 2 Tbsp infused cream, and top with sparkling water.