Baked Stuffed Figs with Red Wine Sauce
4 ounces mild blue cheese (preferably Gorgonzola Dolce, but any one you like will do), divided use – bring about 1/3 of it to room temperature and leave the rest in the fridge
1-1/4 cups toasted chopped walnuts
¾ cup mascarpone cheese, at room temperature, divided use (this is most of an 8-ounce container)
1-1/4 cup dry (unoaked) red wine
½ cup sugar
Juice and finely-grated zest of 1 lemon
1 pound dried Mission or Calimyrna figs
½ cup cold heavy whipping cream
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the wine and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Boil for a couple of minutes, then take it off the heat and let it cool until it’s just warm. Stir in the lemon juice. Pour the mixture into the bottom of a 13 x 9 ceramic or oval baking dish.
Mash the softened blue cheese with a fork in a medium-sized bowl, then mash in ¼ cup of the softened mascarpone and the grated lemon zest. Mix in the walnuts. Take the remaining blue cheese from the fridge and crumble/cut it into very small pieces. Gently fold the pieces in with the walnut mixture and set aside.
Using a pair of scissors, cut the stem off the top of each fig, then make two perpendicular vertical cuts down from the top almost all the way to the bottom. You’ll have an x-shaped cut in the figs, but they should still hold together. Fill the figs with the cheese and walnut mixture, then gently press them back into shape. Put the figs cut side up in the baking dish with the wine sauce in it.
Cover the dish with foil tented so that it doesn’t touch the figs but still sealing the dish. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and continue to back for another 25 – 30 minutes, basting twice with the liquid from the bottom of the dish. The figs should be tender and looking just a little dry on top, and the cheese should be just oozing out a little. Bake for a few more minutes if necessary. Then take the dish from the oven and let it cool for 15 minutes.
Before serving, combine the remaining mascarpone and the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer, and whip until it looks like softly whipped cream. Divide the figs among the serving plates, drizzle the sauce from the dish over the top, then top with a little of the mascarpone cream.