As a child, I don’t think I even knew what figs were. I first discovered figs in my Grandmother’s stash, in the biscuit tin box (of Danish cookies quite common in those days) containing dried fruit and nuts. Dried figs looked strangely un appetising. Little bracelet sized circles or longer garlands made of flattened discs of figs strung through the centre with natural twine. You had to pull hard to get a fig off its string.
I still vividly recall the stories my Grandmother told me of how this was a fruit of Heaven, mentioned in ‘Holy Book’, and said to have miraculous properties. She insisted I eat one dried fig a day.
With a fig in hand I pulled it apart, the tiny many seeds and chewy texture, despite the sweet taste I didn’t want another bite. So we spent many afternoons after school with my Grandmother insisting that I needed to eat one to be ‘smart’ and me thinking I’m ok not being so ‘smart’.
I was quite surprised at myself when the other day not long time back that I picked a packet of dried figs from the store. They appeared attractive and quaint in a nice box of the shelf. I think it was the memories of my Grandmother that made me pick the figs up but I really couldn’t get myself to eat one. So for ages they were in my fridge and I would look at them thinking I have to eat one and then put off to another day.
On my recent trip to Australia, I saw fresh figs for the first time at a Farmers’ market. I had no idea they were so pretty, purple exterior with a beautiful red flesh inside. Marvelling at them and wondering how the fresh fruit tasted; I was still hesitant to taste one.
I looked for fig recipes when I finally purchased a box, an impulse purchase. I made the fig almond cake. It was heavenly. I no longer wonder why it’s fruit of heaven.
With another box of fresh figs in hand and a Friend coming over for dinner, I was looking for another fig recipe. I found this recipe.
Fig and Pistachio Frangipane Tart
Some luscious figs, with a hidden layer of frangipane, the fancy-sounding French name, a delicious concoction of pistachio, sugar, butter, and egg. The shortcrust biscuit base crunchy and just with the perfect sweetness. The filling was indulgent. Had to keep nibbling away at it. So difficult to stop at a single helping.
1 and 1/2 cups plain flour
125g salted butter, cold, cut into small squares
1 egg yolk
4 tbsp fine sugar
1/4 cup ice cold water
125g butter, softened
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup pistachios, ground finely
1/2 cup plain flour
1. Put the flour and the sugar in a food processor, and blend them up for a few seconds.
2. Add the butter, and blend up again, until the mixtures resembles a breadcrumb texture. This can take a minute or so, depending on the temperature of the butter.
3. Add egg yolk, blend again. Slowly add the cold water. It is important that the water is cold as this helps the texture of the pastry.
4. Keep processing until the dough forms a ball and then remove from the food processor. It is important not to overwork the dough.
5. Flatten the dough into a disc, wrap in cling wrap and place in the fridge for 20 mins to firm up. remove the pastry from the fridge, and roll out. I floured the bench just incase but the pastry was good.
6. Transfer the pastry into a tart tin. I’ve found the best way to do this is to loosely roll the pastry onto the rolling pin, and then unroll it into the tin. Then place the tin in the fridge for another 20 minutes or longer if you have time, to let the pastry firm up again. Preheat the oven to 200C.
7. After 20 minutes, remove the tart shell from the fridge, line it with foil, and blind bake for 25 minutes using rice or beans.
1. Cream the butter and sugar together using the beater.
2. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and continue beating until you have a gooey paste.
3. Add the flour and ground pistachios and beat some more. Ideally, the pistachios should be ground to a fine powder, in a coffee grinder or a small food processor. The more finely ground the pistachios, the lighter your frangipane will be. Keep beating the mixture until it is well combined. Put in fridge for 20 mins for it to rest.
To assemble the tart you need:
baked tart shell (completely cool),
pistachio frangipane and
as many figs as you can get your hands on!
1. Spoon and spread the pistachio frangipane into the tart shell evenly.
2. Arrange the figs in any pattern you like over the top of the frangipane.
3. In a preheated 180C oven bake for 35 minutes or until you are satisfied with the consistency of the frangipane.
4. Allow the tart to cool in the tin, before removing.