Fig, Plum and Hazelnut Tart

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Oh, the things we do, the torments we endure, so you don’t have to.  The week’s Fig, Plum and and Hazelnut Tart didn’t start out as the walk in the park below.  After helping everyone become a tart shell master last week we thought we’d put the technique to good use with a simple fig and mascarpone tart.  However, after half our figs disappeared the night before we were scheduled to blog, we had to rethink our plan.  Nearby Allandale Farm had no figs, but they did have plums.  Voilà fig and plum tart.

Wait, I know what you’re thinking.  Even really ripe plums and figs have very different textures.  The first is firm, but pliant; the second is soft bordering on promiscuous.  How can you possibly cook them together without Fig, Plum and Hazelnut Tart-142-8428overcooking one or undercooking the other?  Take heed.  Do as we say, not as we do.  We did it the old school way–and the old school way is pain in the hazelnuts.  Basically you put the firmer of the two fruits in a pre-baked tart shell and throw it into the oven for a few minutes before you add everything else.  Ideally the fruit softens, even caramelizes a bit (you did toss the fruit in sugar, right?).  Well, clearly that technique does nothing but assuage your conscience.  I tried, you can say, as everyone chomps down through mushy figs and intractably firm plums.  The problem, as we discovered, is that the plums cook at what seems like a glacial pace (not really, but as you’re watching your beautiful tart shell grow darker by the second and the plums–damnit!–seem completely unaffected, it sure seems glacial).  Finally, terrified you’ve bought a ticket on a sinking tub, you resort to desperate measures like the nearby photo, until your tart shell resembles one of those foil-hatted crazies on the subway who claims to be channeling financial advice from Aristotle Onassis.

Don’t do it.

Instead, throw the plums on a sheet pan in a 450º oven.  Bake until they soften–they may even, God bless them, caramelize a bit.  Allow them to cool, then lay them out in the tart shell along with the uncooked figs.  Everything will bake in an embrace of mutual love and affection, everything will be done at the same time.  Peace and joy will reign forever.  Here’s a final thought: Bake twice as many plums as needed.  Leftovers are great with yogurt or thrown into a bowl of steel-cut oats for breakfast.  Enjoy.  Ken

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FIG, PLUM AND HAZELNUT TART

Makes one 11-inch tart

Bake the tart shell a couple of hours before assembling the tart.

Ingredients:

  • 10 ounces prune plums
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
  • ½ cup organic sugar
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1 cup mascarpone
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 11-inch pre-baked tart shell in a tin with removable sides (Go here to make your own tart shell.)
  • 10 ounces fresh figs, stems removed, cut into 3 slices lengthwise
  • ½ cup toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°.
  2.  Cut the plums in half crosswise, remove the pit, and then cut each half again.  You will have 4 thick plum slices.  Toss the plums in a non-reactive bowl with the orange zest and juice and 2 tablespoons sugar.  Arrange the plums on a parchment-line sheet pan.  Drizzle their juices over, then bake in the bottom of the oven for 30 minutes.
  3. Put the bay leaves and cream into a small bowl and microwave for 30 seconds.  You can also heat the cream gently on top of the stove if you prefer.  Just be careful not to scald it.  The point is to infuse the cream with the bay leaf flavor, not to cook the cream.
  4. Beat the eggs and yolks in a large bowl with the remaining sugar,  mascarpone, lemon zest, and salt until the sugar has dissolved.  Add the cream.
  5. Lower the oven temperature to 350°.
  6. Arrange the plums on the bottom of the pre-baked tart crust.  Pour the custard over the plums.  Toss the figs with the lemon juice.  Arrange the figs cut-side up on top of the custard.  Sprinkle with the hazelnuts.  Bake on the lowest shelf in the oven for 40 minutes or until the custard is just set.  It should still wiggle slightly in the middle.
  7. Cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes.  When cool, remove the sides of the pan, drizzle honey over the tart and serve.

Fig, Plum and Hazelnut Tart 2-1-2

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Fig, Plum and Hazelnut Tart 2-2-2

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Jody Notes:

I know you have all those tart doughs in the freezer that you’ve been making all week to practice your technique, so just pull one out and plunge ahead with a fruit tart.  

I love baked custard tarts… can’t you tell with 2 in a row.  The savory one–tarte aux blettes–is definitely French, but this one I’m not so sure about.  It’s a take on one that is in our cookbook, In The Hands Of A Chef.  The mascarpone makes it Italian, but I added more cream and eggs to the original recipe so it has more custard.  It’s like an English custard tart with fruit.  Or a fruit tart with the custard baked into the tart rather than it being frozen in the form of ice cream or a creme anglaise.

The intention was to make this a fig, mascarpone and hazelnut tart, but if you give Roxanne the chance at figs, she’s going to find goat cheese and there go half the figs.  Fortunately, Allendale Farms, once again came through with these beautiful Nahog Farm prune plums.  I knew the plums wouldn’t be tender if I put them into the tart raw so I cooked them a bit first.  Feel free to make this just a plum or just a fig tart by doubling the fruit in the recipe.  If you choose fig, you don’t have to roast them ahead.

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32 thoughts

  1. Love the bay leaves, and custard tarts are the whole package: every texture is represented here. I really could eat the screen. Continuing the hazelnut theme, could you add hazelnuts to the tart shell too? Could you open a delicatessen? Sophie

  2. I was wondering what had happened. I actually have these plums at home right now and was thinking along plum tart, so it was exciting to see your post, except … What? No pics, no tart? So glad for the redux. Btw, at the market these plums were called Italian plums, but I was suspicious they were really just prunes, and you call them prune plums, ha!

  3. Even your rush jobs looks fabulous. Your story of roasting plum made me laugh, my kitchen seems to be teaching me such “lessons learned” all the time, sigh.

    Fig tarts have been hovering near the front of my mind for a while, this custard tart sounds decadent, it might be just what we need for a weekend baking project.

  4. Sounds delicious. Loving the idea of anything to do with custard-y type desserts right now as it’s so chilly here by the coast, especially at night.
    – Looks like WP is doing exactly what it was doing to my text – changing it to a differing size. Within bullets, second and third from end and you’ll notice extra text within, well, text!

    • Johnny–We’ve had exactly the same problem. I posted a question about it in the WP support forums and haven’t heard anything back. You CAN make sure it doesn’t happen–if you’re sufficiently obsessive. After you’ve finished writing/editing a post (you’re in the Dashboard, with editing window on the post open), save your work (don’t clse the post, and hit Preview. When the Preview post opens, scan it for text changes. When you find one, return to the editing post box and switch from the Visual tab at the top of the editing box to the Text tab, which essentially reveals all of the formatting commands. Go to the place in the text where you found the text change. You will find a formatting command (generally they begin with something like and end with “.) Delete it. Save the post. Update the Preview and check again. I’ve found that weird text commands are often inserted in places where I’ve been cutting and pasting. Hope this helps. Ken

      • Thanks for that. Unfortunately, the differences don’t show within Google Chrome. For what ever reason it’s only in Firefox and IE, neither I like to use. Text changing is happening less and less for me these days. But I do check HTML before publishing. I used to design websites so it’s easy to scan TEXT for something wrong. For me it was mostly within bulleted points. Luckily I’m having less probs with WP right now. Let’s hope that lasts!

  5. Oh my goodness, do I love figs. I have such a tough time finding them at the grocery store, which seems like such a tragedy. When I do, though, I’m going to have to try this! It looks amazing!

  6. Pingback: Hazelnut Cake Slices with Sugar Baked Plums | Dinner for (n)one

  7. Figs, plums, AND hazelnuts — what an incredible-sounding combination! As always, love your stories about how your dishes come together (the foil-hatted crust made me laugh — I feel like there’s nothing more panic-inducing than being on the other side of an oven door when things aren’t going according to plan! Not that I’d want to be inside it either.) And your photography is gorgeous, love the action shots. The egg yolk one is my favorite. Thanks so much for posting!

    • Thank you. Panic??!! You’re not trying a dessert out on friends without having made it before, are you? :-) The issue with pastry is that if it doesn’t work, you usually can’t fix it–it’s throw it away and start over time. Savory entrees can almost always be morphed into something saving–duck frittata anyone? Disasters do make good stories though… much later. Ken

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