Given that nearly every stall at the farmers' market this past weekend was brimming with figs, I'd say that it's officially fig season here. Swoon! The arrival of figs marks one of my favorite food seasons--late summer and early autumn. I swear that this cross-over time has some of the best produce ever: melons, tomatoes, berries, stone fruit, peppers, apples, pears, winter squashes. Basically, any foodie's dream.
Since I missed fig season last year due to my finger surgery, I've been *itching* for figs to finally come back this season so that I could make this tart, which I've been lusting after since last August: figs, mascarpone+brown sugar filling, and pistachio crust. Three of the best things packed into one dessert!--sweet and soft figs atop a creamy bed of rich and fluffy mascarpone cheese, sweetened and darkened by just a little brown sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla extract, with a faintly nutty and very buttery pistachio sweet pastry crust. Oh, and topped with a light glaze of raspberry-apricot jam, like a little touch of sugary sparkle. :-)
[click on photo for a larger image]
The arrival of figs to the markets also marks the beginning of the academic year. Sigh! Usually I'm quite happy with everything starting back up, getting back into the grind of things, but this year, summer was just too, too short. (That's what you get bouncing back and forth between a school on quarter system, which ends for summer break in mid-June, and a school on semester system, which starts for the fall in late August.) Then, I felt even more cheated out of my final days of summer when, on Monday, one of my professors pointed out (while eating a slice of this tart, coincidentally) my error in thinking that school actually started a week later than it actually does (read: it starts now)! Ack! Talk about a rude awakening.
So, I suppose it's fitting to be posting this tart recipe, which I'd planned to post for next week, a week early (by demand of fellow Instagrammers). Welcome to (early) autumn, folks!
P.S. If you think I'm going to acquiesce so easily over ending summer this early, think again. I've still got summer plans, yo. Stay tuned. :-)
Read on for recipe....
Fig, Mascarpone, and Pistachio Tart
makes one 9" tart, or six 4.5" tart, or ~32 mini tartlettes
240 gr AP flour
65 gr shelled raw pistachios
50 gr sugar
7 Tbspn butter, cold
1 egg yolk
3-4 Tbspn water, cold
1. In a food processor, combine the flour, pistachios, and sugar and process until the pistachios are finely ground.
2. Using the food processor or a pastry cutter, cut the cold butter into the flour mixture until the size of small peas.
3. Add the egg yolk and gradually add the water just until a dough begins to form when you press it between two fingers. Do not overmix.
4. Form the pastry into a ball and refrigerate for at least one hour. (or stick it in the freezer for a shorter amount of time.)
5. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
6. Remove the pastry dough from the fridge and press the dough into the tart pan. Prick the bottom of the dough all over with a fork, cover with parchment paper, and weigh down using dry beans or pie weights. Return to freezer for a few minutes if the dough has softened.
7. Bake for ~13-15 minutes until the edges just begin to turn golden. Remove the beans and parchment paper and continue to bake for 3-5 minutes more, until the crust has completely turned golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.
450 gr mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tspn vanilla extract
freshly grated zest of 1 lemon
1. In a mixer bowl with the whisk attachment, whip the mascarpone, brown sugar, and heavy cream on medium high until soft peaks.
2. Add the vanilla extract and lemon zest and continue to whip just until stiff peaks. Do not overmix.
3. Spoon the filling into the cooled tart shell, and smooth with a spatula.
2 punnets figs
2 Tbspn honey
2 Tbspn raspberry jam (or fig or apricot, or any mixture thereof)
1. Cut the figs into quarters and arrange on top of the mascarpone tart filling.
2. Warm the honey and jam together, either over the stove or in the microwave. Brush over the arranged figs.
(filling recipe adapted from Donna Hay.)