Bourbon Fig Butter + Smoked Sugar Ice Cream with a Fig Swirl

Silky fig preserves kissed with whiskey join an earthy ice cream base for scoops of late-summer bliss. 

Figs seem to be a sort of feast or famine fruit. The ones at our co-op are spectacular in quality, but also in price (famine). But the other day, my dear friend Amelia called to ask whether she could bring over some figs from her grandmother’s tree. Fresh figs are one of my very favorite fruits, so the answer was an emphatic yes. In Amelia waltzed with an entire flat of figs. (Feast!)

Similarly, last year Phi and I went fig picking on a friend’s land and hosted a fig feast with Nik where every course featured tons and tons of figs. Shortly after, I spoke with another friend who had searched high and low during the same time and couldn’t find fresh figs anywhere.

Figs are somewhat elusive in that they have two seasons – a first, tiny crop in early summer, and then a full harvest in the late summer and early fall. They boast hundreds of varieties (over 700!) but here in the states you’ll be lucky to find one or two fresh ones in the market.

I love figs for their sweet flavor, vibrant hue and juicy texture, and they shine when paired with contrasting flavors such as salty cheese, savory herbs or warming spices. When I was through making tarts, cakes, pies, breakfast pastries, pizza and smoothies, I still had enough figs left for a pot of fig butter which I swirled into this ice cream.

Figs need little more than a touch of sugar, heat, and a bit of acidity to be transformed into a thick, smooth puree ideal to spread on toast with almond butter, goat cheese crostini, or stirred into yogurt for breakfast. The alcohol in the bourbon cooks off but it leaves behind a deep complexity that adds dimension to the sweet figs. Putting the cooked figs through a food mill makes quick work of removing the skins; alternatively, pulse the cooled fig mixture in a food processor.

For the ice cream, I finally made use of the bourbon smoked sugar that’s been sitting on a shelf in my kitchen for the past year. I snapped it up after I tried it at a different Feastly meal hosted by Phi where she sprinkled it over pan-fried tomatoes for a savory-sweet appetizer. (Heaven.)

Apparently I’m not the only one who likes smoked sugar…

The large, coarse sugar crystals smell toasty and warm like a campfire, and while the smoke doesn’t translate strongly in the custard, it lends a deep, earthy flavor to the finished product. The ice cream is delicious on its own, and it pairs beautifully with a swirl of bourbon fig butter and a sprinkle of extra smoked sugar for a bit of crunch.

When the ice cream had set, my friend Windy (whose amazing home was recently featured on SF Girl by Bay) came by to share some scoops and show me her impressive collection of wooden spoons that she lovingly carves by hand. Each spoon takes several hours to make, and each comes from beautiful wood ranging from walnut to cherry. She gives them a wide handle which feels good in one’s hands, hence her cheeky name for them: Fat Bottomed Girls. Each comes wrapped in a hand-painted cotton cloth along with a pot of spoon butter for oiling the wood and keeping it supple.

You can read more about Windy, see her studio, and learn a thing or two about San Francisco on Spotted SF. Head over to Windy’s site for a chance to win one of these beautiful creations (just scroll to the bottom and sign up for her newsletter to enter) and check out all the other lovely things she makes at her San Francisco studio.

Wishing you all a feast of figs this summer.

*Bojon appétit! For more Bojon Gourmet in your life, follow along on Instagram,  Facebook, or Pinterest, purchase my gluten-free cookbook Alternative Baker, or subscribe to receive new posts via email. And if you make this gluten free red velvet cake, I’d love to see. Tag your Instagram snaps @The_Bojon_Gourmet  and  #bojongourmet.*

Gettin’ Figgy With It:
Baked Rolled Barley with Figs, Berries and Cardamom
Za’atar Broiled Figs + Goat Cheese Honey Ice Cream
Huckleberry Fig Shrub

Ice Ice Baby:
Matcha Mint Chip Ice Cream
Raspberry Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches {Vegan + GF}
Black Sesame + Dark Milk Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

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Fig Butter

Print Recipe  /  Pin Recipe
Black missions make a pretty purple fig butter with a rich texture, but any variety of fig should work. If you don't have a food mill, you can pulse the cooked figs in a food processor; it will have a slightly coarser texture. Makes about 1 cup
Servings: 1


  • 1 1/2 cups (225 g) packed chopped fresh figs
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) organic granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (90 ml) bourbon whiskey
  • pinch fine sea salt


  • In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the chopped figs, sugar, whiskey, and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the mixture is thick and jammy, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Let cool slightly, then run the fig mixture through a food mill to remove the skins. Chill airtight until needed, up to 1 week.
Making this? I'd love to see!Tag your snaps @The_Bojon_Gourmet and #bojongourmet!

Bourbon Smoked Sugar Ice Cream with a Fig Swirl

If you don’t have smoked sugar on hand, feel free to make this with a raw sugar such as demerara or turbinado. (Brown sugar may be too acidic and could make the ice cream base curdle, so I don’t recommend it here.)
Makes about 1 quart
1/2 cup (95 g) lightly packed bourbon smoked sugar (or raw sugar such as demerara or turbinado)
1/4 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups (300 ml) whole milk
1 1/4 cups (300 ml) heavy cream
4 large egg yolks
1 recipe Bourbon Fig Butter (above)
In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar, vanilla pod and scrapings, salt and milk. Heat over a medium flame, stirring frequently, until the milk is steamy-hot. Meanwhile, pour the cream into a large, heat-proof bowl and place a strainer over the top. Place the egg yolks in a medium bowl and place the bowl on a damp towel.

When the milk is hot, whisk it slowly into the egg yolks, whisking constantly so as not to curdle the eggs. Return the mixture to the pot and cook over a low flame, stirring constantly with a flexible heat-proof spatula, until the custard begins to “stick” (form a film on) the bottom of the pot and/or registers 170ºF on an instant-read thermometer. Immediately pour the custard through the sieve and into the cold cream to stop the cooking. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill until very cold, at least 4 hours and up to 1 day. (Alternatively, chill the mixture over an ice bath for quicker cooling.)

When the base is cold, churn it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Place a large loaf pan in the freezer to chill. When the ice cream has churned, scrape 1/3 of the ice cream into the pan. Dot with 1/3 of the fig puree. Repeat with the remaining ice cream and fig butter, working quickly so the ice cream doesn’t melt, then use a chopstick or knife to swirl the top layer. Freeze until hard, 2 hours and up to several weeks. For longer storage, press a piece of parchment paper to the surface of the ice cream to discourage ice crystals from forming and wrap tightly.


34 thoughts on “Bourbon Fig Butter + Smoked Sugar Ice Cream with a Fig Swirl”

  1. Wish figs were more abundant where I lived! They're just so good, yet they last for what seems like the blink of an eye. This looks like a terrific use of them though, love the homemade fig butter! :D

    And cute cat too :3

  2. I've never actually cooked with figs, but I LOVE eating them. Especially when you pair them with smoked sugar and BOURBON. I am already dreaming of this gorgeous ice cream! Pinned!

  3. Oh my goodness. Those figs are gorgeous and this butter and ice cream. Wow. This post is just full of all of my favorite things. So inventive and fresh. I'd be willing to test any of your recipes in my own kitchen. I'm a huge fan of your Mexican inspired stuff, chilaquiles, polvorones, stuffed poblanos. I'll drop you a line.

  4. Holy smokes! Smoked sugar sounds incredible. I am so curious as to what it tastes like! I'm waiting for figs to reveal themselves up here in Canada and unfortunately I don't have a friend whose grandma has a fig tree so I will have to keep waiting. But once I find them, it's going to be figs galore!

  5. the jealousy for all those figs is real :) they just aren't a thing in minnesota because our growing climate is not ideal. i have stumbled upon a few at whole foods and always grab them when i can. these beautiful pictures make me feel as if i'm eating though. and those spoons… swoon. those who surround us amaze me with their talents everyday.


  6. Figs are near and dear to my heart, and this is tugging at the heartstrings! I feel as though this ice cream was made for me – just gorgeous!

  7. So so gorgeous. Your photos are so expressive and telling. You're so lucky to get your hands on so many figs! They are among my favorites as well!

  8. Alanna, as always your pictures are breathtaking! They are as gorgeous as you're, calm and pristine. Anyone can dive into that ice-cream and have 2-3 bowls of it! :)) Well maybe I just love ice-cream and you <3 Hugs!

  9. Oh my gosh figs are the PERFECT Alanna food to photograph! They're dark, moody, luscious, and a little dangerous ;-)
    Also — I have never seen so many happy wonderful words in one blog post title before ever! I was already foodgasming before I even GOT to these amazing photographs!!! BOURBON-FIG-BUTTER-SMOKE-SUGAR-ICECREAM-WHAAAAAAA
    Lastly it's always a treat when your personal assistant gets in front of the camera ^_^ looks like Catamus won the jack pot with these beautiful spoons! Hope I'm so lucky — heading to the giveaway now!

  10. This (the ice cream, the spoons, the ice cream in the spoons, those ridiculous fig swirls, the SMOKED SUGAR?!?!?!) is all perfection. Mind blown, as always, with these phenomenal flavors and beautiful shots!!!

  11. Can NEVER get enough of figs! Pretty sure I could eat them with every meal these days. I also need this ice cream in my life, like now. And Windy's spoons are absolutely stunning!!

  12. Be still my heart — this sounds incredible. Those spoons are gorgeous, too — and I'm loving the name!

    Also, if you still need recipe testers, I'm definitely up for that! Holler at your girl. :)

  13. OK. Not only is this the ice cream of all my dreams (smoked sugar! fig butter with bourbon!!!!) but your words are just so, so wonderful. Everything about this and everything you've described is perfection — so true what you've written about figs, and the way you describe this ice cream is magical. I am in love with all of this!

  14. This is the best sounding ice cream ever!!! There is nothing better than a friend with a fig tree! I am a lucky one as well, my friend has one too! Your kitty photo is so dang cute!

  15. I'm not usually a fig lover, but this ice cream Alanna could be my conversion. I love the idea of the bourbon spiked butter wrapped lovingly in a cloak of soft, sugar infused ice cream. Oh deliciousness. I can't wait for the first figs of summer!

  16. Wow this ice cream looks amazing! I m'a big fan of figs and so lucky that my parents have a fig tree in their garden so I can enjoy them whenever I visit Dubrovnik! Love the photos and story telling Alanna!

  17. Oh, the adding of the fig butter in blobs makes so much more sense than trying to spread it all on in 1 layer before swirling the way I've done it in the past. Thanks for the great tip!

  18. A flat of figs!?!?!? What luck! Man I'm jealous. They're so hard to find here, and those 20 minutes of the year when they are in season, they're still really pricey. Bummer. This ice cream really does look and sound spectacular though. And your cat is adorable :)

  19. I am happy to try recipes that are gluten-free. I am also very interested in any delicious recipe to incorporate Turmeric if you have any.

  20. Pure gorgeousness!!! We live in WI and fresh figs don’t show up often. Is there a way to make this using dried figs?

    1. Aw, what a shame! I would try maybe 1 cup chopped dried figs and enough water as needed to keep the jam moist. You may need to run it through a food processor to get it smooth. If you try it, let me know how it goes!

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