This, my friends, is one for the history books...
...at least, the ones on figs, that is.
See, I am very, very picky about my fig recipes. I want to love them all, but I rarely find one that I can. Last years caramelized fig ice cream did not *live up*, and 2009's fig pie turned out to be nothing more than two pounds of dead weight at the bottom of my garbage can. (That was before chickens, of course.)
Set me up with figs topped with goat cheese and wrapped in prosciutto, and I'm good, top to bottom. Start adding them to my baked goods, and that's when I'm going to have to ask that we sit down and talk things out.
And yet I experiment, every year.
So I did not have high hopes for Bon Appetit's Fig-Almond Tart, a recipe printed at the request of a reader, wanting the secret to their favorite dessert from Marinus Restaurant in Carmel, CA.
But man-o-man, was I happily surprised! You really can't go wrong with figs when you dress them up with 3x's their weight in butter, eggs and almonds. And the crust - THE CRUST!! Tasted just like my great grandmothers shortbread...
We ate ours for dessert, but this would be great for breakfast as well. Its flavors are ideal for Fall, Thanksgiving and the Holidays. I'm going to have to experiment with making this tart using figs frozen from this months backyard harvest.
Here is the recipe as found in Bon Appetit Magazine's July 2011 issue, with my notes:
- 1 large egg yolk (I accidentally used one small egg - yolk and white - and it was fine)
- 1 tbsp. heavy cream (I just used 1/2+1/2, and it was fine)
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose for plus more
- 6 tbsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, diced plus more
- 3/4 cup half-and-half
- 1/4 cup plus 2/3 cup sugar, divided
- 3 large eggs (our girls lay *medium* eggs, and they are fine)
- 1 tbsp. all purpose flour
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cup (scant) slivered almonds (I only had whole almond so I pounded them first)
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 12 oz. fresh mission figs (about 12 medium), stemmed, quartered
Special Equipment: Use a 10″ – diameter tart pan with a removable bottom is ideal. If you don't have this, get creative. :)
Whisk egg yolk and cream in a small bowl. Mix 1-1/2 cups flour, sugar, and salt in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add 1 cup butter: mix on low speed until coarse meal forms. Add egg mixture. Blend just until moist clumps form. Gather into a ball, flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic, and chill for 1 hour.
Butter tart pan. Roll out dough to 13″ round on a lightly floured surface. (I found I need A LOT of flour on the counter and on top of my dough to get this done. The dough is very *wet* but the upside is this crust will taste like shortbread!) Transfer to pan. Press onto bottom and up sides. Trim excess dough. Chill 30 minutes.
Bring half-and-half to a simmer in a small saucepan. Whisk 1/4 cup sugar, 1 egg, and flour in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in half-and-half. Return to sacuepan. Whisk constantly over medium heat until mixture thicken and boils, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl. Stir in vanilla. Set over a bowl of ice water; stir pastry cream until cold. Remove from ice bath; set aside.
Finely grind almonds with1/3 cup sugar in a food processor (do not grind to a paste). Using an electric mixer, beat butter and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a large bowl until smooth. Add 2 eggs, 1 at a time, beating well between additions. Gradually beat in almond mixture, then 1/2 cup reserved pastry cream (reserve remaining cream for another use). Cover; chill until firm, about 4 hours.
Preheat oven to 375*. Spread filling over crust. Arrange figs, cut side up, in concentric circles over filling. Place tart on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until filling in center is golden and set. Bon Appetit says this is about 1 hour 15 minutes, BUT mine was fully baked in just 40 minutes so be careful with cook time.
Let tart cool completely in a pan on a wire rack. Serve at room temperature plain or dressed up with a dollop of whipped cream or, better yet, some lemon curd.