Fresh Fig and Vanilla Custard Tart

I have never eaten a fresh fig before last week.  Publix had a buy-one-get-one-free special on them and I got a carton of Brown Turkey figs and a carton of Black Mission figs.  I liked them but no one else in my family would eat them. I needed a way to use them so that they didn’t go to waste.  I adapted this recipe from a couple of different ones I found online.  I think it turned out well.  I rolled the tart pastry fairly thin and had enough left over to make a couple of little fig tartlets as well.
Fresh Fig and Vanilla Custard Tart

For the crust:
11/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon. salt
1 teaspoon sugar
8 tablespoons chilled butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 to 3 tablespoons ice water
For the filling:
12 to 16 ripe figs
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
To make the crust

Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor and then add the butter and pulse until the mixture forms very fine crumbs. You can also do this in a bowl, cutting in the butter with a pastry cutter or fork. With the machine running, add the vanilla and 2 tablespoons of the ice water (adding more if needed) and process until the dough comes together.  Remove dough from food processor bowl and shape it into a disk. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for about 15 minutes. Roll the dough into an 11-inch circle and put it in a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Gently press the dough evenly into the tart pan. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to look perfect. Prick the bottom of the tart shell with a fork in 8 or 10 places, and then put the pan in the freezer for 20 minutes while you heat the oven to 425°F. Put the chilled tart shell on a baking sheet, line the shell with foil, and fill with beans or pie weights. Bake until it’s lightly colored, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the tart and reduce the oven temperature to 400°F; remove the weights and foil.


To make the filling

Cut off the stems of the figs (leave the skins on) and slice the figs in half ( if they’re large, you may choose to quarter them).

 

Arrange the figs, cut side up, on the tart shell. Whisk the egg yolk, sour cream, brown sugar, and vanilla until combined.

Carefully spoon the custard around but not over the figs.

Bake the tart on the baking sheet in the 400°F oven until the custard is lightly colored and set, about 30 minutes. Serve slightly warm.


French Apple Tart

French Apple Tart

french apple tart

We went apple picking in Spartanburg County South Carolina last week. This is a great  recipe for using the apples we picked.  This tart is very simple to make and is simply delicious.  Use your favorite apple.  I made a couple of these tarts for a bake sale one year and there were bidding wars for the tarts.  Although it doesn’t need much, a dollop of whipped cream is a nice topping.

French Apple Tart

1 recipe pastry dough, recipe follows
6 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, halved and sliced 1/8-inch thick
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 stick cold butter, sliced thin
1/2 cup apricot jam, heated and strained
Vanilla ice cream or sweetened whipped cream, as an accompaniment

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

On a lightly floured surface roll out dough into a 13-inch round and fit it into a 10-inch tart tin with a removable fluted rim, trimming the excess. Arrange the apples decoratively on the pastry shell, overlapping them. Sprinkle the sugar on top of the apples, top with butter slices and bake in the middle of the oven for 45 minutes or until the crust is cooked through and the apples are golden. Brush with the heated apricot jam while the tart is still hot. Serve each portion with a small scoop of ice cream or a small spoonful of whipped cream.

french apple tart 2
Pastry Dough

1 stick cold unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 to 4 tablespoons ice water
Cut butter into 1/2-inch cubes.

To blend by hand: Blend together flour, butter, and salt in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender until most of mixture resembles coarse meal (roughly pea-size lumps). Drizzle 2 tablespoons ice water evenly over and gently stir with a fork until incorporated.

To blend in a food processor: Pulse together flour, butter, and salt in a food processor until most of mixture resembles coarse meal (roughly pea-size lumps). Add 2 tablespoons ice water and pulse 2 or 3 times, or just until incorporated.

Test mixture: Gently squeeze a small handful: it should hold together without crumbling apart. If it doesn’t, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring or pulsing 2 or 3 times after each addition until incorporated (keep testing). If you overwork mixture or add too much water, pastry will be tough.

Form dough: Turn out onto a work surface and divide into 4 portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather dough together and form it, rotating it on work surface, into a disk. Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour.

Yield: 1 (9-inch) pie crust or a 10 to 11-inch tart crust

Dough can be chilled up to 1 day.

Recipe source: Gourmet Magazine


Palmiers

palmiers

My son and I made these super easy treats the other night and I was really surprised at the results.  They are a delightful cross between a pastry and a cookie.  The sugar caramelizes to form a sweet, crunchy, and shiny coating around the light, flaky puff pastry.  y\You can prepare these up to the point before baking and put them in the freezer for future use.  Then you can bake off a few at a time when needed.

Palmiers

1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
2 sheets puff pastry, defrosted (recommended: Pepperidge Farm)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Combine the sugar and kosher salt. Pour 1 cup of the sugar/salt mixture on a flat work surface. Unfold each sheet of puff pastry onto the sugar and pour 1/3 cup of the sugar mixture on top, spreading it evenly on the puff pastry. With a rolling pin, roll the dough until it’s 13 by 13-inches square and the sugar is evenly pressed into the puff pastry on both sides. Fold the sides of the square towards the center so they go halfway to the middle. Fold them again so the two folds meet exactly at the middle of the dough. Then fold 1 half over the other half as though closing a book. You will have 6 layers. Slice the dough into 3/8-inch slices. Place the second sheet of pastry on the sugared workspace, sprinkle with the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar mixture, and repeat the process above. (There will be quite a bit of sugar left over on the board).  At this point, you can place the slices into a freezer bag and store in the freezer to be baked at a later date.  Let the slices defrost before baking.

To bake the palmiers, place the slices, cut side up, on baking sheets (line with parchment paper for easier cleanup).  Bake the cookies for 6 minutes until caramelized and golden brown on the bottom, then turn with a spatula and bake another 3 to 5 minutes, until caramelized on the other side. Transfer to a baking rack to cool.

Adapted from a recipe by Ina Garten.