Step 1To remove the skins from the hazelnuts without toasting them, bring some water and one-half teaspoon baking soda to a boil in a small pot. Add the nuts and cook for a few minutes, then drain and rub off the skins with a kitchen towel.
Step 2Toast the fennel seeds in a small skillet over medium heat just until they start to change color. Grind them in a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder.
Step 3Place the hazelnuts, figs, brandy, vinegar and 1 1/2 teaspoons water in the bowl of a food processor.
Step 4Process until the mixture is a paste. Add the ground fennel and black pepper.
Step 5Place the fig paste on a sheet of aluminum foil and shape it into a rough 6-inch log, then wrap it tightly in the foil, rolling to shape it into a cylinder. Unwrap the foil and place the log -- still on the foil -- onto a baking sheet. Bake at 200 degrees until the surface of the log dries and hardens a bit, 20 to 25 minutes. Let it cool.
Step 6Wrap the log securely in foil and keep it in a zipper-lock bag in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. Serve, sliced into coins, cold or at room temperature.