The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I didn’t read this book until just a few months ago, and I could kick myself for not having devoured it sooner. Such a marvelous universe, this alternate world of circuses and magic and love. It actually put me in mind of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, in that sense of whimsical magic and a slightly odd world similar to our own, but one much more unusual, spellbinding and mystical.

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Celia and Marco are the proverbial star-crossed lovers, though in this case, they are also opponents in a seemingly eternal game of spells and magic set in a mysterious circus. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been fascinated with the circus. It’s always had a dreamlike, slightly off-kilter sense to me, the striped tents, the calliope music, the death-defying feats of acrobats and contortionists swinging high above or twisting themselves into improbable shapes…..and the ringmaster himself, whip in hand. (In fact, if you’re into circuses and the unusual and/or supernatural, you’ll love the podcast The Magnus Archives, which has a very creepy and weird circus as a main storyline, so give it a listen if so inclined.)

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The circus itself appears overnight, with its attendant staff. Black and white and red are its colors, and it is the backdrop for Marco and Celia, who initially do not realize they are meant to be in opposition to each other, to perform their illusions and spells. They have been trained since they were children for the competition by their respective father figures, both of whom are total and complete bastards. Of course, they fall in love but it’s not a love that is easy nor does their path run smoothly. Well, it never does, does it?

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It’s not a romance, though the love story at its heart is pivotal for the book. With the circus called Le Cirque des Rêves – Circus of Dreams – it would be more accurate to say it’s a gorgeous, dreamlike swathe of crimson velvet words, ice clouds of images, mystical spells that turn clothing into birds, and just an overall sense of magic and mystery. Even the more minor characters are lushly described, and all play a key role in how the ultimate destiny of the circus comes about. Chandresh is one of these side characters who plays a huge part in the outcome. He hosts divine midnight dinner parties for many of the book’s magicians, bringing together the main characters in some of the most sumptuously described food passages I’ve read in ages.

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The desserts are always astonishing. Confections deliriously executed in chocolate and butterscotch, berries bursting with creams and liqueurs. Cakes layered to impossible heights, pastries lighter than air. Figs that drip with honey, sugar blown into curls and flowers. Often diners remark that they are too pretty, too impressive to eat, but they always find a way to manage.

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So the figs. Oh, the figs. A delicacy that I can only get a few times in the early autumn, I had to do something with this amazing fruit that I love so much. Not being much of a sweets eater, I thought something more savory would be delightful. Hence, prosciutto-wrapped figs stuffed with blue cheese and glazed with a bourbon-butter sauce seemed a simple, yet delectably delicious way to enjoy this amazing fruit.

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INGREDIENTS
6 fresh figs
12 slices prosciutto
1 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/2 cup bourbon whiskey
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Sea salt for sprinkling

METHOD
Heat the oven to 400F. Slice each fig in half lengthwise, to make 12 fig halves.

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Using a melon baller, scoop out some of the fig.

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Stuff each fig opening with a teaspoon of blue cheese.

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Wrap a slice of prosciutto around each stuffed little fig.

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Repeat with the other figs, and lay out on a baking tray.

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Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the prosciutto crisps and you can smell the mingled scents of sweet fig, salty prosciutto. and and savory cheese oozing together.

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While the figs are baking, melt the butter and brown sugar and add the bourbon. Cook on high and make a reduction of thick, luscious brown syrup.

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Remove figs from oven, and gently pour the bourbon syrup over them, and sprinkle over some sea salt. Allow to cool, and cram down your throat. You could say they’re magically delicious!

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25 thoughts on “The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

  1. Wonderful recipe!

    Well luckily there’s many fig trees in my neck of the neighborhood and you can buy them fresh when in season, where I grew up there where no figs, but after seeing women in love, a film by Ken Russell, 1969 with Glenda Jackson, Alan Bates and Olive Reed on a story of D. H. Lawrence
    and the fig eating scene, I knew then I had to try figs!

    Fortunately two years later moved over here where figs are common. 🙂

    Here the famous scene:

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for sharing that! I’m glad to find a fellow fig lover. And speaking of Ken Russell, oh my he is definitely a unique director, isn’t he? I would have to say my favorite film by him is Gothic. I have never seen Women in Love though I have heard of it. I guess I’m going to have to go find it now. Damn you! 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The books sounds wonderful but the recipe! the figs, the figs! I can’t wait to try this one out! We don’t grow many figs here – too cold, normally – so I don’t have the same sense of them being seasonal. Will grab them next chance I get, thank you for such a luscious suggestion.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh my God, I am at a loss for words! We don’t get figs here, I’ve only had one in my life and I wish I’d never had it because I will always crave another taste, but cooked like this! They had to be Insanely delicious!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hear you. The first time I had a fig, I was hooked. I do believe you can order them fresh online though they are somewhat expensive. Do you have a Whole Foods or a Sprouts near where you live? I’m sure they would have them this time of year.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m going to give them a call and see! I’ve tried to find them various places in the twin cities with no luck, but there is a warehouse that sells to restaurants but I’d have to buy a case. Maybe some year I’ll do that when I’m up for project like preserves. But I’ll give W/H a call.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I don’t know if I mentioned it – Catholic, here, too! But I did not know about St. Pasqual! I might need a little statue to put on my range kind of like people used to put statues of St. Christopher on their dashboards!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Or you could probably find I really pretty tile with his image on it in a wooden frame and hang it in your kitchen over your stove. That’s where my San Pascual resides. He’s been blessed by a priest and everything. Lol!

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      4. Don’t worry, I will keep you in mind for next fall and do another fig recipe. And if you are able to get your hands on some, make sure and post a recipe as well. I would love to see what you can do with them.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. …I have had this book on my IMMEDIATE to read list…. for about a year or longer now. I’ve had the copy forever and it has followed me around the house from room to room as I plan to read it… and leave it where it lies, until I pick it up again to start the dance over…. on day…. one day…. It sounds great! And those figs look divine!! But, you could stuff anything in blue cheese and wrap it in proscuitto and I’m pretty much in.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am with you on stuffing things with blue cheese and wrapping them in bacon or prosciutto. I would venture that cow turds would be good this way. 🙂 The book is amazing. I’ve read it three times in the past few months and fall in love with it each time. The prose is beautiful, haunting and mysterious……vaguely Goth but not really, if that makes any sense. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. …very good idea, more for the ‘fresh’ supermarket figs though than tree-picked (for me. Figs are, overall, my favorite fruit, the more whne I come across a tree with ripened ones and can pluck off and eat right there – figs don’t need to be sprayed much if at all.) I might imitate… maybe substituting though marscarpone (from a local farm) or crescenza for the blue, sweet prosciutto for the bacon (depends though on what the main course preceding will be,) and add a drop or two of balsamic (the real stuff) for acidity – though the whiskey mix I think I’ll try for other things….

    Liked by 1 person

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