Fresh figs are available for such a short period of time here in Colorado that I feel like I have to use them in as many ways as possible before they're gone. (Although, truth be told, I think I might like dried figs even better, and they're available all year long. But that's really beside the point.)
Anyway, a "fresh fig tart" just sounds like exactly the kind of food I want to eat when fresh figs are in season.
There's only one problem... I've never had a fig tart that I thought actually tasted good. Until now. This is good. Even the "anti-fig" people in my family (yes, they exist) thought this was good.
Also, I was meeting a friend for a concert the night I made this and we had agreed to tailgate in the parking lot before the concert. I brought a large enough slice of this tart to feed 3 people, and she (who shall remain nameless) ate pretty much the whole thing. So, yeah. This is good.
However, it didn't start out good. This is the 4th (or 5th?) tart I made, and aside from the pastry cream, it really doesn't resemble what I started out to make at all. At first I thought that a dark chocolate crust would be delicious. Dark chocolate and figs sounds awesome ... the problem was that I found a hint of lemon was necissary to bring out the flavor of the fruit. And, lemon, dark chocolate and figs produced a dessert with just too many competing flavors.
I also envisioned an open tart (no top crust) and tried to just lay slices of fresh figs across the top of the tart. This looked lovely, but I didn't like the consistency of the figs after the tart was baked. In addition, the figs really needed some added sweetness and toping the tart with sugar or a honey glaze just made the whole thing kind of sloppy.
So... I swapped the chocolate crust for a lemon almond crust that is buttery and tender and tastes almost like a cookie. Then, I mixed the figs with raspberries and cooked them with some sugar, lemon and flour (to thicken up the juices), so that the mixture was more like a compote. I also decided to top the tart with a lattice crust because I just felt that there needed to be more of the buttery, crispy texture of the crust to balance all that creamy, luscious filling. Plus, it looks pretty.
Yes (I can hear you already), this dessert takes a bit more time than your average sweet treat. But, look at it. Come on. Every now and then there is an occasion to wow people with something really beautiful, don't you think?
Also, you could really use whatever fruit you like in this tart. If you don't have access to fresh figs, substitute something else. Plums would be delicious. You could also omit the figs and just use all raspberries.
Raspberry Fig Tart With An Almond Cookie Crust
FOR THE ALMOND CRUST:
- 1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 ¼ cup almond flour
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon finely chopped lemon zest
- 2 sticks cold butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
FOR THE FRUIT:
- ½ pound fresh figs, stems removed and quartered
- ½ pound fresh raspberries
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup dark or light brown sugar
- 1 ½ tablespoon all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon grated lemon zest
- ¾ tablespoon butter
- Fresh lemon juice to taste
FOR THE PASTRY CREAM:
- 3 ½ tablespoon cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 ½ cups whole milk
- ¼ cup honey
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 3 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 teaspoon almond extract
PREPARE THE CRUST:
- Toast the almond meal in a 375 degree oven for 10 - 15 minutes, until golden brown and fragrant. Set aside to cool.
- Whisk the egg, egg yolk and vanilla together until blended and set aside.
- In a medium size bowl, stir together the almond meal, sugar, all-purpose flour, cinnamon, salt and lemon zest.
- Using either a pastry cutter or your fingers, blend the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles coarse bread crumbs with a few pea-size chunks of butter here and there.
- Pour in the egg mixture into the butter-flour mixture and, using your hands or a wooden spoon, mix just until the dough comes together. Turn the dough out onto a smooth work surface and knead a couple of times, just to fully incorporate the ingredients.
- Divide the dough in half, leaving one half on your work surface. Place the other half in a ziplock bag, or wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate.
- On a floured work surface, roll the dough into a 12 inch circle. Carefully center over a 10 inch tart pan with a removable bottom and gently work it into the pan, pressing evenly into the bottom and sides. *Note: This crust will tear as you lift it into the pan. That's ok. It's a really forgiving crust. Just press the torn pieces together in the pan.
- Trim the edges of the dough, leaving about a ¼ inch over hang. Form the over hang into an edge that rises slightly above the edge of the tart pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and put in the freezer for at least 30 minutes while you make the fruit filling and pastry cream.
FOR THE FRUIT FILLING:
- Put half the fruit into a medium saucepan, add the sugars, flour, lemon zest and butter, and stir to mix. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. When the liquid has thickened, turn out into a bowl and stir in the remaining fresh fruit.
- Taste the mixture and add lemon juice to taste. Set aside while you make the pastry cream.
FOR THE PASTRY CREAM:
- Put the cornstarch, salt, sugar and lemon zest into a medium heavy bottom saucepan and stir to combine.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, egg yolks and honey to combine.
- Gradually whisk the milk mixture into the sugar mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and boils.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and extracts.
- At this point, you can cover and refrigerate the pastry cream and the fruit filling until you are ready to bake the tart, or you can assemble and bake right away.
ASSEMBLE THE TART
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Remove the 2nd half of crust dough from the refrigerate and roll out into a 12-inch circle on a floured surface. With a pizza wheel or ruffled edge pastry wheel, cut the circle into ½-inch wide strips.
- Remove the prepared pastry shell from the freezer and place on a baking sheet. Pour the pasty cream into the shell and smooth it to an even layer. Top with the fruit
- Lay half of the pastry strips, evenly spaced, across the top of the tart, all in one direction. Lay the other half of the strips across the first layer, in the opposite direction. Pinch the edges of the pastry strips gently into the edge of the crust.
- Sprinkle the tart evenly with a tablespoon or two of sugar and bake for about 40 minutes, until the edges of the pastry are golden and the fruit is bubbly.
- Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- When cool, remove the sides of the tart pan and transfer to a platter.
Serve at room temperature. This tart is best the day it is made, but can be stored in the refrigerator for 1 day.
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