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I'm happiest when the food I make becomes a backdrop to a lively conversation. When I'm not cooking, I'm traveling or dreaming about travel. Come sit with me, and enjoy! Read more here.

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« chorizo tortilla with fino sherry: revealing the flavors of Spain | Main | pasta snails with baby heirloom tomatoes, basil, and pine nuts »
Tuesday
Sep012009

crostata di fichi: look out ladies, here comes the tart of the party

Ripe slices of fresh Black Mission figs bathed in sugar and lemon juice top this lemon-zest tart crust to create a stunning, center piece dessert. It's such a sexy tart that I thought, why compete? I slipped on a pair of ripped-at-the-knee jeans and a pink T-shirt for our dinner party to step aside for the real beauty.

We started with a flavorful fig, arugula, and bacon salad and a glass of sparkling glass of cava. At the end of the evening, the gorgeous tart echoed the fig salad course and proved a delicous end to our heirloom tomato pizza dinner.

I adapted the recipe from "Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen" by Mario Batali's top pastry chef, Gina DePalma, to give the tart a bolder flavor. I doubled the lemon zest in the tart crust, adjusted the flour amount slightly, added a second egg yolk in the filling, switched out the almonds for pine nuts, and doubled the lemon juice in the fig topping. The extra lemon takes the dessert from being excellent to outstanding.

Crowned with a dollop of whipped cream and served with a bubbly moscato d'asti, a slice (or two!) of this dessert makes for a celebratory end to a fun evening with friends.

Fresh Fig Tart (Crostata di Fichi)

1 recipe sweet lemon zest tart crust (below)

1/2 stick butter (four tablespoons)
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted and finely chopped
12 - 15 medium fresh Black Mission figs
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Flour the surface of a large cutting board. Cut the dough ball in half. Save half for your next tart. Flatten the other half into a disc and roll it into an 11-inch circle. It should be 1/8 inch thick. The sides will crack as you roll out the dough. Just pause and repair the cracks with your fingers.

Transfer the dough to a 10-inch tart pan with fluted sides and a removable bottom by rolling the dough over your well-floured rolling pin and then unrolling it onto the pan. Press the dough gently into the bottom and corners of the pan. If the dough breaks, just repair it with your fingers. This process takes a little time but the dough is forgiving. Chill the tart shell while you're making the filling.

In the bowl of an electric mixer or in a regular bowl using an egg beater, cream together the butter and confectioners' sugar. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, followed by the honey. Beat in the finely chopped pine nuts.

Trim the stems off the figs and quarter them lengthwise. Place them in a large bowl with the lemon juice and granulated sugar, tossing to coat evenly.

Pour the tart filling over the bottom of the tart shell and spread evenly. Arrange the figs on top, flesh side up, in a circular pattern. Bake the tart for 40 minutes or until lighly brown. Cool the tart for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Sweet Lemon Zest Tart Crust (makes 2 tarts)
2-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Fresly grated zest of 2 lemons
1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup heavy cream

Place the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and lemon zest in a food processor and pulse several times to combine. Add the cold, cubed butter a little at a time and process until the mixture is sandy and there are no lumps.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolk, vanilla extract, and heavy cream. Add the wet ingredients to the food processor and pulse 3 - 4 times. Pour the dough, which may still be flaky, into a large bowl and start working it together with your hands until it's a solid piece.

Form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic, and chill until firm, 1 - 2 hours. You can freeze the dough for up to 2 months.

Reader Comments (14)

I've been eating so much figs lately. I though about making tarte, but they always disappear so quickly in my house.

September 3, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterelra

Hey! Angela, you are posting faster that I can go to the market and get me some Figs! I saw your previous recipe with figs and wonder why I haven't seen them at the market. Will have to check again this weekend. By the way, I am planning on baking those semolina cookies, since I have some semolina flour is time to put it to good use.

September 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMely

Wait! You said: Moscato D'Asti, that is my favorite wine, I am adding that to my market list, too.

September 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMely

GORGEOUS! That crust sounds to die for - I love me some citrus!!!

September 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSam@BingeNYC

This is SO gorgeous. I haven't eaten any figs yet this season and I obviously need to get on it quickly.

September 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCarrie

Elra: I hear you about the figs disappearing! It happens around here too. :)

Mely: It's bizarre about figs. One minute the market is filled with them, then next weekend POOF. They're gonners. And then there's apparently two fig seasons so they are actually legitimately gone for a few weeks before they come back for the second season. I read that somewhere... Isn't moscato d'asti divine??

Sam: I was a little worried putting in the zest from two entire lemons in the tart dough but Jesus, it was delicious and offset the sweet figs perfectly!

Carrie: We need to get you some figs, girl!

September 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAngela

Angela,
Figs are my favorite!
This is a GORGEOUS tart!
I made individual fig and frangipane tarts and I was so proud!
Save me a slice!

September 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStacey Snacks

Thanks, Stacey! Come on over. :)

Mely: Let me know what you think of the semolina cookies!

September 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAngela

Beautiful, absolutely beautiful. It reminds me of Chez Paul's amazing fig tart in Paris. I made some camembert stuffed fig puffs today, come and check out my fig post as well.

September 5, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjackie at PhamFatale.com

That's one gorgeous tart! It is so much more impressive than a fig and puff pastry tart I made over the weekend :)

September 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterOlga

it's lovely to have stumbled upon your blog- lots of beautiful photos of the places you have been. this is a really beautiful post- i absolutely adore figs- and love this tart. i look forward to visiting your site, again. best wishes, shayma

January 26, 2010 | Unregistered Commentershayma

Thanks for the kind note, Shayma! The fig tart is one of my favorites. It's such a wonderful treat during fig season, which of course, is always too short. Thanks for visiting my site; it gave me an opportunity to visit your blog, which is wonderful. I look forward to more exchanges. Cheers!

February 11, 2010 | Registered CommenterAngela

Hi There,

My name is Madison Harris and I'm a relationship manager at NutsOnline.com, a leading web retailer for Pine Nuts (though I should note we also sell many other nuts, dried fruit, candy and trail mixes). :)

Our users love our products but have increasingly told us that they’re interested in information about the nutritional aspects of Pine Nuts as well as health tips and recipes. As we only seek to please our customers, we’ve begun compiling a list of the best informational sites for Pine Nuts lovers-- you can see our progress here: http://www.nutsonline.com/links#pinenuts

As you can see, we’ve linked to your site in an effort to connect our customers with useful information about the Pine Nuts they love, and we’re hoping you’ll be willing to return the favor by linking back to our Pine Nuts product page. :) If you do a web search you’ll see NutsOnline consistently has low prices and very favorable customer satisfaction.

We’d be eternally grateful if you could place a link to: http://www.nutsonline.com/nuts/pinenuts/pine.html within the text "Pine Nuts" on your site, so that if people are interested in buying Pine Nuts, they’ll know exactly where to go!

Let me know your thoughts or if you have any questions, and I’ll follow up right away-- feel free to contact me directly at madison@nutsonline.com. I’d be more than happy to tell you more about NutsOnline and provide any follow up detail you’d like!

Very Best Regards,

~Madison

Madison Harris
Relationship Manager, NutsOnline
madison@nutsonline.com

March 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMadison Harris

I wanted to check out this recipe another source besides the book...which I have for this recipe. For the filling the book calls for one large egg yolk but in the directions the word yolk is plural and it furthermore it says to add them one at a time. Don't know which way to go. Have made this gorgeous crostata before but can't remember what I did, Looks like I need two yolks.
Made this crostata to bring to a dinner party. Hostess made a rather simple chocolate cake with whipped cream. It was a little embarrassing to see the amazing amount of attention the tart received.

October 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGigi

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