Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Roasted Fig And Walnut Tart ..... "Oh Bring Us Some Figgy Pu" .. Make it Tart!

Roasted Fig And Walnut Tart
My mother believed in the medicinal benefits of eating figs. She often purchased Fig Newtons at the A and P Store. I grew up liking the bar cookies. On one of my first trips to Milano, our son-in-law Silvano treated me to fresh figs and prosciutto. That was a delightful treat. As you can tell I do enjoy figs. Several years ago, I read a book written by a distant cousin on the genealogy of my paternal grandfather's lineage. One of my granddad's great aunts was a cook for Queen Victoria as the family originated in London. I have wondered what capacity she served. Was she the pastry chef who prepared the Queen's High Tea with sandwiches and crumpets? The author wrote the family had the queen's recipe for the either Plum Pudding or the Figgy Pudding from the kitchen of Queen Victoria. I read this several years ago so I can't recall just which it was. I sometime later telephoned the late author to learn if she knew of anyone who might have that recipe. The author was 94 at that time and in a Nursing Home living in the assisted living area. She was unable to know if the recipe survived the years and generations. Good try on my part!!! This recipe is as close as I will come to Figgy Pudding. The Mission Fig which is black grows so abundantly here in California? Oh, are they sweet and juicy!
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup icing sugar
pinch salt
1/3 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 Tablespoons cold water
1 large egg yolk
2/3 cup walnuts
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 Tablespoon flour
12 to 15 large black figs
1/4 cup apricot jam
Combine flour, sugar and salt in a medium bowl or a food processor, add butter and cut or pulse in in until it resembles small peas. Beat water and egg yolk together until uniform and add just enough to bring the pastry together into a ball (it may be slightly more or less liquid depending on the level of humidity in air). Wrap pastry in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Roll out pastry on a floured work surface and fit into a 9" tart pan. Cut away excess pastry. Prick pastry base with a fork, line with foil and fill with weights. Place tart pan on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, remove weights and bake for 8 minutes or more until pastry looks pale and dry but not baked through. Remove weights and foil and cool.
Increase oven temperature to 400 F.
Place walnuts (which you have heated in the oven at 350 about 8 minutes until the skin blisters. Place in a towel to cool, then rub with towel to remove skins.) and 2 tablespoons of the sugar in the bowl of the food processor and pulse until the walnuts are finely ground.
Place the butter and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until fluffy. Add walnut mixture and beat until well combined. Add yolks and lemon zest to mixture and beat until mixture is uniform. Stir in flour. Scrape walnut cream into pre-baked shell and spread in an even layer.
Cut the figs into quarters, but not all the way through the base. Fit the figs into the tart shell, allowing them to stand slightly open at the top (like flowers), but without leaving any large gaps between them.
Place the tart pan on a baking sheet in the lower third of the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until walnut cream is puffed and slightly golden, and tips of the figs are slightly crisped.
Heat apricot jam in the microwave or a small pot over a low heat. Strain out and discard any bits of the apricot. Use a pastry brush to coat the figs with apricot glaze. Serves 8

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