Fresh Fig Tart with Rosemary Cornmeal Crust

As many of you know when figs came into season about 6 weeks ago (I could actually give you the day if I think hard enough), I was SO HAPPY. I adore figs with their mix of silky sweetness and seedy crunch. I actually grew up with a fig tree and had many sunny afternoons playing on my creaky swing set and picking figs off our sticky sappy tree. Those were the days. I really had no idea how lucky I was. We also had a huge avocado tree, orange tree, lemon tree and if I remember correctly, an apricot tree. What do I have now??? A sad little herb pot and wilty mint. That's about all you can do with a condo deck. Luckily I've put my order in for a drip irrigation garden with my architect husband. Patience is a virtue and I'm ready to wait.

In the meantime, I will have to buy figs. Or eat the ones people generously bring over. Which is exactly what happened last night. Completely unaware of my fig fanaticism, our friends Jason and Dawn brought over a GORGEOUS homemade fig tart. Jason is a brilliant cook and architect, and is all about taste, presentation and precision. Don't worry if your tart doesn't come out that perfect. Mine sure as heck wouldn't. I've change the recipe only slightly to use organic dairy and well-sourced sugar.

Now go get the last figs of the season. They are only around for a week or two more. Enjoy!

Fresh Fig Tart with Rosemary Cornmeal Crust and Lemon Mascarpone Cream

From A Lazy Front Porch Supper, July 2003

Serves 6 - Active time: 1 1/4 hr - Start to finish: 1 3/4 hr

For crust...

  • 1 1/2 cups organic all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal (not stone-ground)
  • 1 tablespoon rapadura (unrefined cane sugar)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) organic cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces (I like Strauss Creamery)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons ice water

For filling...

  • 1/3 cup sour cream (Organic Valley or Nancy's are good)
  • 1 cup (8 oz) mascarpone cheese (it's hard to find organic so go for all-natural)
  • 1/4 cup rapadura or honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons favorite fruit-sweetened jelly
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 1/2 lb fresh figs
  • Special equipment: an 11 1/4- by 8- by 1-inch rectangular or 10-inch round fluted tart pan (1 inch deep) with a removable bottom

Make crust: Pulse together flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Add butter and rosemary and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Drizzle evenly with 4 tablespoons ice water and pulse until just incorporated. Gently squeeze a small handful. If it doesn't hold together, add more water, 1/2tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition and continuing to test.

Press dough evenly onto bottom and up sides of tart pan with floured fingers. Smooth dough with a small offset metal spatula or back of a spoon (floured if necessary), then roll a rolling pin over top of pan to trim dough flush with rim. Chill crust until firm, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400º. Bake crust in middle of oven until center and edges are golden, 25 to 30 minutes (don't worry if bottom of crust cracks), then cool in pan on a rack.

Prepare filling and assemble tart: Whisk together sour cream, mascarpone, sugar, zest, and salt in a bowl. Heat jelly and honey in a small saucepan over moderately low heat, whisking, until jelly is melted, about 4 minutes, then cool glaze slightly. Remove side of tart pan and spread mascarpone cream in shell. Cut figs lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices and arrange decoratively over cream. Brush figs with honey glaze.

Crust can be made 1 day ahead and kept, covered, at room temperature. Mascarpone mixture can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Tart can be assembled 1 hour ahead and kept, loosely covered, at room temperature.

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