You know what’s the worst thing ever? Every single pun I’ve ever uttered. And a hairy spider!
But this is about figs, not my sense of humor or my arachnophobia. Because, y’all, I feel bad for figs. I think the whole fig newton(/newman, holler paul!) thing is to blame, fig newtons being incredibly nerdy in the face of chocolate chip cookies and ho-ho’s and whatnot. I mean those commercials were correct–it’s not a cookie, mother, it’s a fig newton! Says the kid who probably ALSO knows the difference between a scarf and an ascot, the similarities being that wearing either will get you beat up at school. Because kids are jerks!
Figs are just hard to place in a specific category. They don’t have an impressive list of recipes associated with them (and in fact, 90% of fig recipes involve goat cheese and honey in some sort of limp-leaved salad combination, FYI) and they just don’t come to mind for me all that often.
They’re just WEIRD. Which isn’t to say figs aren’t tasty, but no one really comes home from a hard slog at the office thinking to themselves, “god damn I could really go for a fresh fig right now.” People don’t even seek them out at the grocery store. For the most part it feels like you either have to be searching for them for some sort of specific recipe, or they are aggressively sold to you at some farmer’s market. I think the first pint I ever bought was the result of some incredibly tanned farmer arms that caught my eye. What? I have a thing for men who know how to plow, HIYO!!
The truth is, though, I find figs to be amazingly delicious. Plus their insides are really pretty (seriously, I’m not trying to make a metaphor here about how beauty is on the inside or some shit, because at this point we are all old enough to acknowledge that harboring those sorts of useless aphorisms just results in a painfully naive picture of this planet, which is–surprise!!–inhabited by animals, some of them sentient, who are seeking out the best mates with whom to pass on their genes, which usually doesn’t have too much to do with whether or not they remember to write all their friends Christmas cards or not or if they’re a huge dick when they get mad while driving [though fair warning, future husband: for me that is absolutely a deal-breaker])!! And they DO go so well with honey. And this fig tart is downright delicious. It capped off a small impromptu dinner party at my apartment, during which my roommate KILLED with these absolutely delicious pistachio-and-olive tapenade topped lamb chops! Killed.
So you know the moral of the story is that you should eat more figs and get a roommate that knows her way around a rack of lamb. But for what story is that NOT the moral??
Kadota Fig Tart with Mascarpone Cream
from the Chronicle Kitchen
1 1/2 cups/320 g all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup/115 g cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
3 tbsp ice water
8 oz/225 g mascarpone cheese
1/3 cup/75 ml sour cream
1 tsp salt
8 Kadota figs, quartered lengthwise
Honey for drizzling
For the pastry: In a food processor, pulse the flour and salt until combined. Add the butter and process until the mixture forms coarse crumbs. Add the ice water, 1 tbsp at a time, until the mixture begins to come together. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and form into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days.
To make the tart shell, remove the dough from refrigerator and allow to soften for a few minutes. Roll into an 11-in/28-cm round. Fit the dough into a 9-in/23-cm fluted tart pan/flan tin with a removable bottom, pressing the dough into the sides of the pan. Run the rolling pin over the top of the pan to trim the dough flush with the rim. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
Adjust an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C/gas 5. Remove the crust from the refrigerator and prick the pastry all over with a fork. Line the crust with parchment/baking paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the paper and weights and bake 5 to 10 minutes more, or until just golden. Transfer to a wire rack/cake cooler and let cool completely.
For the filling: In a medium bowl, whisk together the mascarpone, sour cream, the 1/3 cup/75 ml honey, and the salt. Using a rubber spatula, spread the mascarpone mixture evenly in the crust. Arrange the figs in concentric circles on top of the mascarpone mixture. Drizzle with additional honey. Remove the sides of the pan and cut the tart into wedges to serve.
Serves 6 to 8