I'm lucky enough to have a couple of friends who have a fig tree that produces an abundance of fruit right on schedule every June. Each summer, they are generous enough to give me more than my fair share of the beautiful fruit. In years past, I've hosted fig-themed dinners and made fig jam for those friends and others. This year, I wanted to make a stunning dessert I had seen on the New York Times' Cooking website.
I love a classic fruit tart with creamy rich pastry cream topped with shiny fresh colorful fruit. I also love shortcut versions like this no-bake variety from my colleague Karen. This fig tart is a bit of a hybrid of the two, but the process is made easier when you do a little bit of work ahead of time around the jam and dough.
It always helps things along when you have a batch of pie/tart dough in the freezer ready to go when you need it. We make ours in a food processor here at The Chopping Block, which I find incredibly easy and downright foolproof. Our Owner/Chef Shelley Young demonstrates how to make it in this video:
If you are making the pie dough, be sure to let it refrigerate overnight before using. If you have some in the freezer, let it sit in the fridge overnight to thaw out. Roll it out and put in your tart pan with a removable bottom. Pierce with a fork many times, then put in the freezer while you prepare the rest of the tart. The recipe calls for a 9-inch tart pan which is standard. Somehow, I ended up with an 8-inch tart pan (a casualty of working for a cooking school for 15 years and getting random hand-me-downs), so I used that, plus two individual pans. My phone camera did something weird here on this pic. I promise the dough wasn't cold enough to be white!
The other part of this recipe that you can have done ahead of time is the fig jam. I used the same easy recipe that doesn't actually require canning as I've done many times before. Make sure it's completely cool before adding to the tart.
Adapted from the New York Times
2/3 cup almond flour
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
3/4 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon cake flour or all-purpose flour
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
Pinch of fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extra
1 egg, beaten
1 Tablespoon dark rum
1/2 cup homemade fig jam
1/2 cup red currant jelly
1. Heat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Sift together almond flour, confectioners' sugar, cornstarch and flour into a medium bowl. Pro tip: I usually whisk my dry ingredients together to save time on sifting but for this recipe, sifting is necessary to get all of the clumps out of the almond flour.
3. Place butter, salt, vanilla and almond extracts in a stand mixer with a paddle and beat 1 minute at medium speed. Scrape down sides and add almond flour mixture. Beat at medium speed for 1 minute, until incorporated. Gradually add the egg and rum and mix until incorporated.
4. Remove tart shell from freezer and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Scrape almond cream onto crust and using an offset spatula, spread evenly over crust.
5. Place in oven and bake 40 minutes, until crust and almond cream are golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 40 minutes on a rack.
6. While tart is cooling, remove stems from figs. Cut small and medium figs into quarters.
7. Heat red currant jelly over low heat in saucepan until melted.
7. Spread fig jam over the tart in an even layer.
8. Arrange the figs in concentric circles, starting with the rim, with the stem end down. Slices should angle upwards.
9. Gently brush melted jelly onto figs with a pastry brush.
10. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
This dessert was a big hit with everyone. I especially loved the almond cream and fresh fruit combo, so I'm excited to try that with other seasonal fruits throughout the year. I think it would be especially delicious with peaches and plums.
But what about the rest of the figs?
Some became this delicious appetizer: Goat Cheese Stuffed Figs Wrapped in Prosciutto.
This couldn't be simpler. Take a washed fresh fig, remove the stem and slice into the fig, but don't cut all of the way through. Put a little dollop of goat cheese inside and wrap with prosciutto.
Skewer, brush with a little olive oil and grill for a few minutes on each side.
Goat cheese and fig are a classic combo and one I personally love, so I used the last of the figs in a caramelized onion chutney that topped a burger with goat cheese and arugula on a pretzel bun. Now, that's making the most of a batch of fresh figs!
If you want to learn how to make beautiful seasonal desserts that utilize fruit like this fig tart, don't miss our upcoming Blue Ribbon Baking hands-on class: