Mom’s birthday was last week, and I made the trek to Louisville to help the folks celebrate. I didn’t have time to work up all the figs from the backyard, so I filled my suitcase with tins of fresh fruit. (In a way, it was like bringing coals to Newcastle, to use that old cliche, because their fig bushes were covered with enormous, juicy figs.)
What to do with them? I know she likes chocolate, so I had to include that somehow. That’s when I got the idea of making a ganache and serving it with the figs and a crust using my go-to pastry recipe. Here’s the end result, which was more beautiful than I had imagined and the flavor was even better.
Chocolate Fig Tart
12 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/8 teaspoon almond extract or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla or your choice of flavoring
1 1/2 cups flour
12 fresh figs (I have black mission figs)
2 tablespoons honey
1 (85 g) bar 70% or darker chocolate, to taste
1/2 cup canned milk, plus more
Pinch of sea salt
For the crust: Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
In a stand mixer, cream butter and add sugar, sea salt and flavoring on medium. Reduce speed to low and slowly add flour to create a dough. Press the dough into a 9-inch circular tart pan. Cover the dough with a sheet of aluminum foil and weight it down. Bake for 8 minutes. Then uncover and bake another 5 minutes or until golden brown. (If you don’t want to overbake, turn the oven off 2 or 3 minutes before you think it will be done.) Set aside and let cool. Once it’s cool, remove from the tart pan and place on a serving plate.
For the figs: Pre-heat the broiler with the rack as close to the top as possible.
Take half of the figs and slice them thinly lengthwise. Quarter the rest of the figs. Place on a rack. Brush them with honey. Place under the broiler and let them roast. Watch closely and remove as soon as the honey on top starts to boil. Set aside and let cool.
For the ganache: When ready to assemble, set up a double boiler and melt the chocolate. Stir in the milk at little at a time until you reach the desired consistency. Add a pinch of salt.
On the crust, lay out the fig slices in concentric circles, starting at the outside and building in until the top is covered. Carefully spread the ganache over the center and out just to the edge of the fig slices. Top the tart with the quartered figs, starting at the center with three fig quarters and working out to the edge of the chocolate.
Serve with whipped cream, raspberries or raspberry sauce, if desired.
Makes 1 tart.
From John Griffin