Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fig Tart With Frangipane

Last week, before I headed into the jam-making figapalooza, I held back twelve picture-perfect figs.  I’d found a recipe for a fig tart that I wanted to try, and since quartered fresh figs are part of the visual appeal, I wanted to make sure the prettiest fruit didn’t wind up mashed into jam.  (The jam, by the way, has received rave reviews from all who received a jar.  I just love it when people enjoy the food I’ve made.)

This recipe, like so many others, seems like it might be complex and scary because it includes an unfamiliar word:  frangipane.  (I’m not even going to try to explain how that word is pronounced, but if you’re curious, you can go here and find out.)  Frangipane is actually a very simple paste made from ground almonds, butter, sugar, and egg.  Some versions of this recipe include other additions, like vanilla extract or orange zest, but I decided to keep it simple, since I hadn’t tried frangipane before.  It’s unbelievably yummy, and though it goes into the tart looking like a spread, it puffs up into golden clouds of sweet goodness that nestle around the fruit.

You’ll end up with enough frangipane to make several desserts, but according to Pim (the blogger from whom I adapted this recipe) it freezes well for about a month.  I can’t wait to try a nectarine tart, and I can imagine frangipane and pears would be just heavenly together.  Pim suggested using 1/4 of the frangipane mixture, but I ended up using more like 1/3.  I split the rest between two freezer bags for later use.

If you don’t have a food processor, you can grind the almonds for the frangipane by placing whole almonds in a zipper bag and crushing them into a find powder with a rolling pin.  If you do have a food processor–even if, like me, you rarely use it, both because it’s a pain to clean and, truth be told, you’re a little afraid of those whirring, super-sharp blades–I’d recommend putting it to work for this recipe.  It makes quick work of the almonds, and it does a great job of thoroughly combining the other ingredients.  Just be super extra cautious.  Like, totally.

Finally, you’ll note that there’s no photo of the finished product here.  That’s because my fig tart spent a little too much time in the oven and, thus, wound up a little dark–it looked burnt, though it still tasted terrific.  Check out the much prettier pictures at Chez Pim, and remember to keep an eye on your baked goods rather than trusting a timer to let you know when they’re done.

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Fig Tart With Frangipane

Ingredients:

1 pie crust (for a single crust pie)
1/2 cup whole almonds
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter
2 eggs
10 to 12 fresh figs
More sugar, for sprinkling

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Roll out the pie crust. Use a rolling pin to make a 10-inch circle of dough on a sheet of parchment paper. (If you're using a prepared pie crust, you may need to roll it slightly thinner than it arrives in the package.) Transfer the dough and parchment paper to a baking sheet. Don't worry if the sides of the crust overlaps the baking sheet at this point.

Make the frangipane. Put the whole almonds in the work bowl of a food processor and pulse until they're finely ground. Add the sugar and pulse to distribute it throughout the almonds. Then add the butter and one egg; pulse again until the ingredients have combined into a thick paste. Spread 1/3 of this mixture over the pie crust, leaving a 1-inch border all around the edges. Divide the rest of the frangipane into two zippered bags and save it for another use.

Add the figs. Cut the figs into quarters and arrange them over the frangipane. Start at the center of the crust, placing the figs with their skins facing down and their pointed ends upward; work outward from the center point in concentric circles. (Just nestle the figs into the spaces left between the figs in the previous ring. If the rings aren't symmetrical, no one will die. And your tart will still taste incredible.) The number of figs you'll need to cover the frangipane depends on the size of the fruit. I used nine, but you may need a few more.

Fold in the edges. Fold in the edges of the crust that aren't covered with fragipane, creating a little bowl for the figs. Pinch the crust as needed, to keep it in place.

Add an egg wash and a sprinkle of sugar. Beat the remaining egg in a small bowl with 1/2 a teaspoon of water, to loosen it up just a bit. Brush the edges of the tart with the egg wash, then sprinkle them with sugar. Go ahead and sprinkle the figs with sugar, too, if you like. I used plain old granulated sugar, but I would have used turbinado sugar if I'd had it on hand--that little bit of molasses flavor would be excellent with this dessert.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Keep an eye on your tart after the first 30 minutes and take it out of the oven when the crust is nicely browned.

  

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