The holidays are over! After about three weeks of on-and-off holidays (Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Sukkoth) we are finally returning to normal life. Rocker Dude, the Little Rocker and I have had a lot of fun over the past few weeks. We spent about a week and a half at the in-laws, and the Little Rocker was spoiled silly (isn’t that their job in the world? I always thought so). We also had a birthday party for her as you saw in this post, though I will make a separate post about the birthday cake – who likes Elmo?
On Friday I went to the Farmer’s Market here in Givat Shmuel as I usually do on Fridays. I got the awesome pickles that I love from a kibbutz, and I looked around for other things to inspire me. There was one stand with four different types of cherry/grape tomatoes – they were so fresh! I brought about a kilo of those home, and then I saw the figs. I thought I had missed fig season when it started in August because we then flew to the US and when we came back, all the figs that I saw were mushy and not appealing. Not these figs. They were soft but not mushy, and they tasted so good! I have never had a fresh fig before as they are not common in the northeast being more of a warm weather fruit. I was a little hesitant as I had tried fresh guavas last week and they were nasty.
Dried figs are good, but after three or four, they kind of lose their appeal. And dried figs feel like they are just full of seeds and nothing else. So I bought a container and decided to bake something with them for the Sabbath. I remembered seeing a lot of interesting recipes and as I have not baked anything really elegant in a while, I figured that something with figs qualifies as elegant.
I looked through some of the blogs that I follow, and came across this Fig and Almond Tartelette on Tartelette’s blog. Her food always looks so elegant and her photography is gorgeous. One day I hope that I can attend one of her lectures on photography.
I know that Rocker Dude doesn’t like almonds, but he doesn’t like figs that much either, so I decided that this dessert was not for him – it was for the other 8 people at the table. I made Tartelette’s pie crust, a crust that did not require refrigeration before rolling out, though I froze it for an hour before baking it.
It did shrink a tiny bit, but not enough to ruin the shape. I knew that we were going to be 9 people for dinner and I only have 8 tartelette pans, so I decided to make this into one big tart and serve it in slices. In order to make sure I had enough, I doubled the recipe. it made enough for one 10 inch tart and two 4 inch tartelettes. Although the recipe originally says to bake the crusts for 30 minutes, I decided to only parbake the crusts as they would be baked again and I did not want to overbake them.
The filling was really easy to make. I ground up the almonds in the food processor and added the rest of the ingredients, including the rum and then poured it into the cooled tart crust. I have to admit that it didn’t look like there would be enough filling to fill the big tart let alone the two little tartelettes. But I trusted that Tartelette knows what she is talking about and indeed, I was wrong, and there was plenty.
Then I gently pressed the fig halves over the filling (after eating two of them) and baked them in the oven. The filling rose to encase the figs gently. When they came out, the tarts looked wonderful.
I did not have apricot jam to glaze the tarts, so I used strawberry. I figure that if the figs already have a red sort of color, the faint pink of the strawberry and rum would not color the tart too much. I was right.
The tart was well enjoyed by everyone (except for Rocker Dude), though you could really feel the alcohol. My ex-roommate R. was over for the weekend and brought a nice dessert wine, and they paired very nicely together. R. is training right now to run the Venice marathon at the end of the month – she is crazy. But if anyone in the Jerusalem area is looking for a personal trainer or a massage therapist, she is certified in both and is really good. (She used to practice on me and Rocker Dude while she was learning – free massages anyone?)
Make this tart – and feel fancy!
Recipe (adapted from Helene of Tartelette):
Fig Almond Tartelettes
Makes 1 10-inch tart and 2 4-inch tartelettes
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 tablespoons ice water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup whole almonds (about 4 ounces)
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
8 teaspoons rum
24 ounces ripe figs, cut into halves (about 8 )
1/2 cup strawberry (or apricot) jam
Preheat oven to 375°F. Combine first 3 ingredients in processor. Using on/off turns, cut in butter until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Mix 4 tablespoons ice water and vanilla in small bowl. Pour water mixture over dough. Process until moist clumps form. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Roll out on floured surface to 12-inch round. Fit into tart pan and trim excess dough. Roll out the excess dough to fit the tartelette pans. Freeze the dough in the pan for at least 30 minutes. Using fork, pierce dough all over. Bake crust until pale golden, about 20 minutes (crust may shrink slightly). Cool on rack. Maintain oven temperature.
Finely grind almonds with sugar in processor. Add eggs, butter and 4 teaspoons rum. Process until batter forms. Pour filling into crust. Arrange fig halves atop filling. Bake until figs are tender and filling is golden and set, about 25 minutes.
Melt jelly with remaining 4 teaspoons rum in heavy small saucepan over medium-low heat. Brush jelly mixture over figs. Cool tarts. Serve at room temperature.