One night a couple of months ago, while The Karate Kid was at karate lessons and I was supposed to be working out at the gym... Or something like that...
I was wandering through the grocery store and came across the miracle of all miracles. Figs. Fresh figs. Not dried figs. Whole. Fresh. Beautiful. Figs.
I am not sure how they ended up in a grocery store in Upstate NY. And at that particular branch. (I can't even get rye flour at that location, how in the name of Maestro did they end up with a flat of figs? Seriously.)
But they were there. And the flat was almost untouched. (I don't think anyone knew what they were, frankly.)
After I walked through, the flat was, um, kind of empty. I had no idea what I was going to do with all those figs. But use them I would. These unexpected finds bring on that rush of adrenaline and get me antsy to be back in the kitchen.
Sadly, sometimes the creating doesn't always translate into posting. So, most of my fun with figs is lost to the sands of time. However, I did manage to document one of my favorites - but I must note that in this instance, it was the crust that enchanted me more than what should have been the star ingredient.
Hello, rosemary-cornmeal crust. I think I love you...
This dessert started out being about the figs. But the crust stole the show.
Which is weird, because I am usually the person that eats the filling and pawns off the crust on the first willing person who likes crust. A total role reversal for me.
I don't know if it was the crunch of the cornmeal or the aromatic rosemary. Or the almost shortbread like density of the crust. Somehow, I had no expectations that the combination would have such an effect on me. But it did. I was totally hooked.
I think I might even have scraped off the topping on my second slice and just ate the crust. I won't confirm that such a thing happened. But it could have...
Fresh Fig Tart w/ Rosemary Cornmeal Crust & Lemon Marscarpone Cream
Minimally Adapted from Epicurious.com
1 1/2 Cups Unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/2 cup coarse ground yellow cornmeal
1 Tbs sugar
1/4 tsp salt
8 Tbs (1 stick) unsalted butter - cold & cut into 16 pieces
1 Tbs roughly chopped fresh rosemary (if you are not using a food processor, chop this more finely)
1/2 cup cold water, with a few ice cubes in it (you will only need about 4-5 Tbs of the water)
1/3 cup sour cream
1 cup marscarpone cheese
1/4 cup sugar
zest of one lemon
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbs red currant jelly
1 Tbs honey
3/4 pound fresh figs*
*The original recipe called for 1 1/2 pound figs, which created a thick fig layer on top of the tart. I halved it, which made the filling and crust take more of center stage. Other fresh fruits would be nice here as well.
In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt until well blended. Add rosemary pulse a couple of times, then add butter, a few pieces at a time pulsing between each addition. Stop when mixture resembles a coarse blend - some pea size lumps should be evident. Drizzle with 4 Tbs of the ice water, then pulse until mixture just begins to hold together. (Pinch together a small amount between your fingers to see if it hold together, if it does not, pulse in additional water - 1 teaspoon at a time. Test after each addition. You shouldn't need to add much more than a Tablespoon.)
Press dough into a 9" or 10" tart pan with a removable bottom. Use the back of a spoon (or the bottom of a glass) to smooth dough in the bottom of the pan. Loosely cover and set in refrigerator to chill - at least 30 minutes, but can rest as long as overnight.
When ready, preheat oven to 400F. Place chilled crust in pre-heated oven (center rack) and bake about 25-30 minutes (until edges are golden and bottom is lightly firm to the touch). The bottom might crack a little, that's okay. Remove baked crust from oven and cool in pan on a rack.
Stir together sour cream, marscarpone, sugar and lemon zest into a bowl and set aside. Heat together honey and currant jam until melted. Slice figs into thin (~1/4 inch slices) and set aside.
Remove sides from tart pan. Spread cream mixture into tart. Arrange figs on top. Brush figs with currant-honey glaze.
Best when served immediately.