Another gift…this time from the eccentric neighbor, Stephanie. Apparently, there are few who actually like figs. What’s not to like? Perhaps everyone was scarred by perhaps the best commercial from our childhood, The Big Fig Newton.
Or perhaps you just don’t know what to do with them. Figs are very French. They pair very well with pungent foods like blue cheese and proscuitto de Parma as well as almonds. When making a passle of pizzas, I usually end with a fig, pine nut, and blue cheese pizza as a pseudo-dessert.
With all that said, I decided to make a fig tart. In follow-up to Oliver’s post about tart dough, it can be tricky, that’s why I prefer to make a wetter dough and press into my tart pan rather than trying to make a perfect pastry, roll out, fit to pan, trim, etc…
Mario Batali has a recipe on Food Network for just such a dough that utilizes almonds, fennel seeds, and aniseeds, all which pair terrifically with the figs. Not wanting to make a really heavy dessert, I decided to make another light custard from fat-free buttermilk.
1/2 cup blanched almonds, lightly toasted
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
2 teaspoons aniseeds
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more, as needed
6 tablespoons very cold sweet butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water
Butter, for tart tin
2 cups figs, stemmed, halved, macerated in 1/4 cup sugar
1 cup fat free buttermilk
2 large eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
honey (for glazing)
Make the dough. As OG stated, cold is the key. Cube the butter and freeze for 30 minutes while you get everything else together. Toast the fennel and anise seeds and chop or grind a bit.
In a food processor, pulse the almonds (about 10 pulses) until coarsely ground. Add remainder of dry ingredients and pulse off and on for about 10 more seconds. Add the butter and pulse again until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Finally, add the egg/water mixture and pulse until the dough just comes together.
Remove dough and press into prepared tart pan (this is for a 9 inch tart) much as you would for a Graham cracker crust. Place uncovered in the freezer for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare filling. Which eggs, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Slowly add the cold buttermilk and refrigerate.
Remove tart shell from the fridge and blind bake for 15 minutes. You’ll want to eat this right away as the smells of the almonds and spices are extraordinary. Once lightly brown, remove shell from oven and let cool slightly and place on a sheet pan. Add the figs mixture and pour the custard over the figs just below the top of the tart shell. Bake for ~35 minutes or until center is barely wiggly. Remove from oven to a cooling rack and brush with honey.
Serve warm or at room temperature. Could top with creme fraiche, but nice with a cup of coffee or port.