Figs are soft and sexy. Figs are a fruit that’s no too sweet. They work with walnuts, almonds, honey, blue cheese, goat cheese, ricotta and mascarpone, vinegar, raspberries, lemons, oranges, bergamot, bay leaves, cardamom, thyme, marsala, port and whiskey and chocolate. Figs pair well with crunchy things. I never tire of using them cooked or raw. Keep in mind that they do have more flavor when they are cooked, like apricots.
I offer you a simple tart made of poached figs, silky cream and a crisp tart shell.
- One pre cooked pate SABLEE tart shell made with walnuts, or the pate sucree crust on my page if you prefer a crunchier tart shell.
- Poached figs
- Mascarpone cream
- 43 grams (1/2 cup) walnut pieces
- 107 grams (3/4 cup) AP Flour
- 1 large egg
- 38 grams (3 tablespoons) superfine sugar
- 85 grams (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 1/8 tsp Salt
- Place walnuts, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse until nuts are ground fine.
- Cut butter into eighths and scatter over the top of the nuts. Pulse until no loose bits of sugar or nuts remain.
- Add flour to food processor and pulse until the mixture looks like course crumbs.
- Wisk egg to combine yolks and white. Add to mixture and pulse until soft curds form.
- Turn dough out onto a Silpat and knead lightly until the dough comes together. Form into a flat 6″ disc and chill for at least an hour or up to 24 hours.
- 2 tablespoons of good quality Earl Grey Tea
- 200 grams (1 cup) granulated sugar
- 495 grams (4 pints) fresh black figs
- Make a syrup with two cups of water and 1cup of granulated sugar. Bring to a simmer and add the tea. Steep for 3 minutes (no more or it will be bitter). Strain tea out of syrup and set aside.
- Cut an X notch at the top of each fig, about 1/2″deep. This allows the syrup to penetrate the fruit.
- Pick a saucepan that can fit all the figs in an even layer. Bring syrup to a boil and turn it down to a simmer. Add the figs and turn off the heat. Let rest, covered in the syrup for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let the figs cool to room temperature, uncovered. Chill the figs overnight in their syrup.
- 165 grams (2/3 cup) room temperature imported Italian Mascarpone (If you can’t get imported, BelGioioso is a good brand)
- 77 grams (1/3 cup) whipping cream
- 56 grams (3) large egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon gelatin
- 2 teaspoons water
- 1 tsp ruby red port, whiskey or Cointreau
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Chill in the refrigerator the whisk and bowl you’ll use to whip the cream.
- Make a Bain Marie to cook the eggs. I like using a glass bowl on top of a pot. Fill the pot with a few inches of water. The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water. Bring the water to a simmer. Wisk together the egg yolks, alcohol and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Wisk everything over simmering water until the mixture thickens and triples in volume and reaches 160 degrees. Don’t stop wisking and make sure the water doesn’t boil or you’ll scramble the eggs. Once it’s cooked, strain and transfer it to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Chill for 15 minutes.
- Put two teaspoons of cold water in a bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Mix together with a chopstick. Leave to hydrate for about five minutes. If you come back and see some little bits that still look dry, moisten them with a bit more water. Once the water has absorbed the gelatin, you need to melt it. Put your bowl in the pot of water that is still simmering. Turn off the flame. The gelatin should melt in a minute or two. The liquified gelatin must be warm but not hot (between 105-120 degrees Fahrenheit ) when you incorporate it into the cream so keep it in the bowl, in the hot water.
- While you’re waiting for the gelatin to melt, whip the cream with the vanilla until it just begins to thicken.
- Add the warm gelatin to the cream. Whip the cream to soft peaks.
- Fold the egg cream into the whipped cream. Add the Mascarpone and wisk everything together.
- Immediately pour the mascarpone cream into the pre baked tart shell and chill for 1 hour to set the gelatin.
- Reserve one fig and cut the remaining figs into quarters, draining them on paper towels and reserving the liquid.
- Boil the liquid down until it’s sufficiently reduced to a glaze consistency. You’ll use this to glaze the figs.
- With the remaining fig, cut cross wise, as before but much deeper so that the fig opens up like a flower. Make sure you don’t cut all the way down. The quarters need to remain connected on the bottom.
- Remove the tart from the fridge. Starting from the outside place the figs in the tart, pointed side up. The first row you can lean up against crust and the subsequent rows will lean on each other. Place the figs around the perimeter of the crust and then do another row and probably a third. Place the fig flower in the middle.
- Glaze the figs lightly with the reduced syrup. Chill until service.
This tart, like most, deteriorates under refrigeration. I would suggest assembling it no more than four hours before service, if possible. If not, it will still be good but the moisture present in the refrigerator will soften the crust.
This tart can also be made with fresh figs. If you do it with fresh figs, make sure they are really ripe and flavorful. Put a thin layer of home made Earl Grey fig preserves on the bottom of the crust, before you put in the cream. Use either my recipe or Rare Bird Preserves makes a lovely Earl Grey Fig preserves. You can find Elizabeth Madden’s preserves and curds at rarebirdpreserves.com.