For the sugar syrup, place the caster sugar and water in a saucepan and stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Then raise the heat under the pan and bring the syrup to a boil. Boil for one minute, then remove the pan from the heat.
For the figs, preheat the oven to 240 ºC. Prick the figs all over using a fork. Gently heat the port in a casserole dish and allow to bubble until it has reduced by half. Add the butter, six tablespoons of the sugar syrup, the split vanilla pod and a generous amount of black pepper. Bring to the boil, then gently add the figs and the honey.
Transfer to the oven for 5-6 minutes, basting the figs occasionally with the liquid.
Meanwhile, for the caramelised almonds, sprinkle the flaked almonds onto a non-stick baking tray and dust generously with icing sugar. Bake in the oven for a few minutes, until golden-brown.
To serve, arrange the figs on serving plates and drizzle the poaching liquor over them. Scatter the caramelised almonds over them and decorate with the vanilla pods if you like. Serve with a dollop of crème fraîche.