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Port Poached Figs

3 cups tawny port
1 1/2 cups sugar (try Florida Crystals)
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
1 (3-inch) strip orange peel
8 whole black peppercorns
12 black mission figs, ripe yet firm

•Combine the port sugar, vanilla pods and seeds, cinnamon, orange peel, and peppercorns in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat. Simmer about 20 minutes—until the liquid has the consistency of a light syrup.
•Add the figs and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and cool the figs in the syrup.
•Serve the figs on top of cake or soy ice cream—or simply on their own—with the syrup.