What To Make With Figs

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Darling brought me a handful of figs from his father's tree at home. A handful of beautiful purple figs. The weight of one plump fruit sits in the palm of my hand and I marvel its sensual beauty. What will I make with these figs?

So many ideas come to mind.

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A fig and mascarpone tart sounded so good. Though I like figs plain, or grilled and glazed in balsamic creme, drizzled with honey and thyme. They are so beautiful and you have to use them right away. Figs are just lovely in an arugula salad with gorgonzola. I like roasting figs with Brussels, bacon and balsamic too. I searched a few recipes but still wasn't sure what to make.

I longed to make something with figs. But what? Something special.

When Darling brought me the figs that day, they were fresh off the tree in their beauty, rotund with that deep brown-purple with hints of green near the stem, so tender and soft. You can just imagine cutting one in half to reveal its marvelously lusty vermillion-colored flesh. A color somewhere in between amaranth and rhubarb. The center is juicy and inviting. There is something intangibly delicate and sensuous about figs.

So I decided a fig frangipane tart would make a lovely dessert. My girls wanted to help me in the kitchen, demanding their matching aprons. I gave them the pleasure of playing with the tart dough after we mixed it in the KitchenAid. We rolled out the dough on a floured wooden cutting board, each of the girls taking turns rolling it with the rolling pin. They enjoyed this so I let them do it a bit more. I gave them the leftover dough to play with while I formed the tart crust in its pan.

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And they loved rolling out the dough. Flour was everywhere, their hands busy making shapes while I mixed the frangipane and decorated the fig tart for the oven. I used less sugar than the recipe called for in the frangipane. I had gathered a few recipes and created my own. Less sugar, using brown instead of white sugar. Brown sugar has an organic, more satisfying flavor to me. I prefer it to white. I like using raw sugar in place of white, but when I can, I use brown sugar.

I also added heavier amounts of vanilla. I keep vanilla beans in a jar full of rum. It's a good way to get the most from the vanilla bean, and a splash of the rum as extract is delicious too.

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So here is the recipe. I wrote it down before I forgot how I did it.

Darling enjoyed it, which pleased me most. The art of seduction continues.

Stephanie’s Fig Frangipane Tart Recipe

(For one beautiful tart)

Ingredients

Pastry Crust

  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

  • ½ teaspoon (pinch) Maldon flake salt

  • 2 tablespoons raw cane sugar

  • 10 tablespoons (1 ¼ stick) unsalted butter, frozen, cut into chunks

  • 3 tablespoons cold ice water

  • 1 egg yolk

Directions

Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a bowl or a KitchenAid with the paddle attachment, mixing the dry ingredients well.

Add the cubes of butter into the bowl and process. If you are doing this by hand in a bowl, just use your fingers to mix the cold butter into the dry ingredients. It should be coarse and mealy.

Do not over process. You want to make a tender crust.

Add the egg yolk. Then begin to add the ice water slowly. Use your hands to form a ball and then wrap in plastic.

Put away in the refrigerator to allow the dough to rest (30 minutes or longer).

Sprinkle the countertop or a marble with flour and roll out the dough. Add flour if it gets sticky. Mold into tart pan.

Prick the bottom of the tart dough with a fork. Wrap in plastic and put it in the refrigerator until you are ready to blind bake.

For the frangipane:

  • 1/3 pound raw almonds

  • ½ cup lightly toasted pine nuts

  • 2/3 cup brown sugar

  • 3 eggs

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (and added scraping of vanilla bean)

  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

  • pinch of sea salt

  • pinch lemon zest

  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter

  • 2 tablespoons melted “beurre noisette” butter

Steps:

  • Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

  • Roll the pastry and mold the dough into the tart pan. Make small holes at the bottom and prebake the tart shell for 15 minutes, or until golden in color. Remove and let cool.

 To make the frangipane:

  • place the nuts and sugar in a food processor and grind until fine.

  • In a KitchenAid using the paddle attachment, add the 2 tablespoons of cold butter, eggs, vanilla, almond extract, salt, and lemon zest while continuing at a low to medium speed.

  • Add the almond/nut/sugar mixture. Blend.

  • Drizzle in the “beurre noisette” butter while the ingredients are being blended slowly.

  • This should make a good ribbony paste.

Figs

Using two handfuls of ripe figs, remove the stems and cut them into quarters. Once you have blind baked the tart shell and it has cooled, spread the frangipane mixture into it, smoothing it into the base of the tart.

Arrange your figs however you’d like--- a circular decoration like flower petals is pretty.

Place the filled shell on to a large sheet pan and bake until the frangipane is puffed and golden. The tart should bake through evenly for about 40-45 minutes.

Remove from the oven and dust with confectioner’s sugar and lemon zest. Serve as is or with a dollop of lemon mascarpone cream (see recipe).

Lemon Mascarpone Cream

  • zest of lemon

  • 1 container of mascarpone

  • confectioner’s sugar

Blend all until creamy. Spoon it on top of your tart (or serve on the side).