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The scone recipe requires only half the amount of fig butter made here, so reserve the remaining spread for your morning toast--or use all the fig butter at once by doubling the scone recipe.
1. To poach the figs, measure 1/4 cup / 60 ml water and the sugar into a small heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir the mixture together with a wooden spoon, incorporating the sugar without splashing it up the sides. If crystals do get on the sides of the pot, use a clean pastry brush dipped in water to wipe them off. (The goal is to prevent the syrup from crystallizing.) Add the cloves and star anise.
2. Bring the mixture to a boil over a medium flame and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, until the syrup is amber-colored. For even coloring, the flame should not come up around the outside of the pot.
3. Add the red wine, port, figs, and cinnamon, standing back a bit, as the syrup is hot. Don’t panic when the syrup hardens; this is the normal reaction when liquids are added to hot sugar. Continue cooking the mixture over a medium flame for 2 minutes, until the sugar and wine blend.
4. Reduce the flame to low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The figs will burble quietly as they are jostled together by the flame; they are ready when the wine has reduced by half. Remove the pan from the stove and cool to room temperature.
5. Fish out the star anise and cloves. Pour the cooled figs, with their liquid, into a food processor and purée until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the softened butter to the fig paste and process until smooth. (HS note: At this point I folded in a few big pinches of salt as well).
The fig butter can be spread right onto the buckwheat scone dough or stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. If it is refrigerated, bring it to room temperature before using.
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