Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Fig and Cherry Tart

Last week I kind of improvised a fig and cherry tart, then mentioned on Facebook that I had done so, and my mom has been asking for the recipe ever since. Normally I'd be flattered, since 99.9% of recipe exchanging between my mom and I consists of me calling, e-mailing, or Facebooking her and asking how to make something, but before I shared I wanted to be sure I could recreate it.

The first time, after all, could have been a fluke, and I dreaded Mom calling back to say, "I tried to make that fig tart the other night. It didn't turn out. Actually, it set the oven on fire, and the house burned down. We live in the motor home now, but we can't move it out of the driveway because the tires melted. Are you sure that was the right recipe?"

Better safe than sorry, I stopped at the store on the way home yesterday and picked up the two things I needed to give this a second try. I already had the third ingredient:

3 ingredient tart

since pie crusts come in pairs.

I bought the pie crusts last week, because I was going to make a quiche and I'm the kind of lazy chef who doesn't make my own pastry crust. Instead, I used up all my eggs on that frittata I burned, so I was stuck with two pie crusts and no idea of what to do with them. I've never actually made a pie, other than a pasta pie several years ago, but I got to thinking about galettes and how much I used to love the ones at Bountiful Bread when I lived in Albany. Then I remembered that I had some fig spread in the refrigerator, and the idea for the tart slowly formed.

For the fig spread, you'll need:

1 bag of mission figs
1 10 to 14 oz jar of cherry or apricot preserves

I had fig spread in the refrigerator because I made it for Fancy Cheese Night, the occasion once a month or so when I decide that I'm having crackers and fancy cheese for dinner while I watch black and white movies. The recipe was in a magazine I read years ago, and was recommended as part of a cheese board because figs and cheese taste good together. If you drop it onto a cracker before you put the cheese on, it holds the cheese in place, and you don't have to worry about it siding off while you watch Bette Davis run someone over in a stolen motorcar.

To make the fig spread, remove the stems from all of the figs. Dump them into a food processor, then add all of the preserves and process the hell out of it. When you are done, it will look like this:

figs and cherries

Since you are now the sort of fancy person who has fancy cheese nights, spoon the fig spread into your fanciest Gladware, and stick it in your fancy refrigerator until you have Fancy Cheese Night or until you decide that you want to make a fig tart instead.

To make the fig tart, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Then take the pie crust out of the refrigerator and set it on the counter. You want it chilled, not cold, when you work with it, or it will crack when you roll it out. After that, make the fig spread. (If you already made it and had it in the fridge, put it in the microwave for 30 seconds so that it is warm and spreadable.)

One note about the fig spread: Use preserves, not jelly. Preserves are thicker than jelly, which turns to liquid in the oven. Also, you want mission figs, not those weird Calmyrna figs.

Anyway, once you've made the spread and let the oven preheat all the way, it's time to roll out the pie crust onto a pan. I used a round pizza pan covered in parchment paper:

poked pie crust

As you can see in the picture, I've also liberally poked it with a fork so it doesn't bubble up in the oven. Once you have the crust unrolled, spread it evenly with the fig spread to about a half inch from the edge, and then fold the edge up. You want to put the fold right where the spread stops, so that there will be some spread inside the crust and you won't be biting into a big, dry mouthful of pastry:

filled crust

Once you've rolled up all the edges, put it in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until the crust is golden and the filling has turned a nice dark chocolate brown:

baked tart

Let it cool completely, until it is at room temperature. Then cut it into wedges (I used a pizza wheel) and serve:

sliced tart

It tastes like a giant Fig Newton, and it's best with lots of milk.

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