Crostata di Fichi Freschi e Ficonero

Ficonero Fig Tart_4764_wm_1x1

The lovely folk over at the live with ILVE blog invited me to contribute a guest post recently.   So, with fig season now in full swing, how could I post about anything other than a fig tart?  While we can get figs all year round here in Australia, the Victorian fig season is actually quite short so getting a basket of these beauties in full bloom and peak ripeness is a real luxury.

I chose to do something different and created a fig frangipane tart, laced with Ficonero – a lush balsamic glaze infused with figs.  It’s wonderful over EVERYTHING.

You can check out the post at  live with ILVE  but I’ve also posted it here for you, below.

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The fig season is relatively short, lasting from late summer to mid autumn. They deserve to be considered a true luxury. So it pays to make the most of them at their peak.

Cut them open and drizzle with honey to serve alongside thick, creamy yoghurt for a simple but opulent breakfast or dessert. Serve with veils of wafer-thin prosciutto crudo and crusty bread as an antipasto or lunch. Add them to a cheese board with walnuts. Grill or poach them in a honey syrup with rose or orange blossom water for a middle-eastern treat. They also bake beautifully in cakes, muffins, and pastries, and the key is to keep it simple. One should never mess with a fresh fig.

I love to take a simple recipe and give it a little twist. Adding an interesting new ingredient, flavour or texture, without changing the essential nature of the dish.

This tart recipe I’m sharing with you is a traditional custard cream tart you’d find in any Italian or French patisserie, but with a few twists to make it interesting, and I think, extremely luscious. One of my favourite ingredients is , a sweet, syrupy version of vincotto, made with figs. It’s a lovely addition to meat and fish dishes but is amazing over ice cream, in creamy desserts, and with fruit or soft cheeses. It’s also fabulous drizzled over cheese on a cheeseboard.

Ficonero is available in specialty shops in Australia and online. If you cannot find it, you can substitute a teaspoon of pure vanilla bean extract or paste, or a little Marsala, and the tart will still be wonderful. The other twist is Rapadura sugar, an unrefined sugar made from evaporated cane juice. It has a lovely toffee flavour that gives the crust extra crunch and flakiness. It complements the Ficonero to give depth to the cream filling. Again, you can substitute a light brown sugar or coconut sugar, if you wish. However, I’d recommend giving Rapadura a try.

This recipe combines sweet, earthy figs, nestled in a Ficonero cream and a flaky crust with a hint of toffee. A perfect trans-seasonal dessert! Serve it on its own, slightly warm or at room temperature. If you really must, add a dollop of thick cream.

Ficonero Fig Tart_4779_wm_2x3

Crostata di Fichi Freschi e Ficonero

(Tart with Fresh Figs and Ficonero)

Ingredients

Pasta Frolla

175 grams plain flour

50 grams Rapadura sugar*

¼ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon sea salt

125 grams unsalted butter, chilled

1 large egg yolk

Crema al Ficonero

300 millilitres cream (35% fat)

60 grams Rapadura sugar*

4 large egg yolks

2 teaspoons Ficonero

5 – 6 medium to large purple figs

15 – 20 grams Rapadura sugar*

*Rapadura sugar is an unrefined sugar made from evaporated cane juice. It has a lovely toffee flavour. It is available through organic and health food suppliers and some specialty supermarkets. You could substitute a good light brown sugar or coconut sugar.

Method

Pasta Frolla

A good tip for making pasta frolla is to have the ingredients chilled (yes, even the flour on a hot day!)

Heat the oven to 190°C. Line the base of a 23 cm loose bottomed tart tin with a circle of baking paper. Place the flour, salt, baking powder, and Rapadura sugar into the bowl of a food processor and pulse for a few seconds to aerate. Add the chilled butter, cut into cubes, and process for a few seconds just until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and process just until the mixture comes together to form a ball. Be careful not to over-process the dough in the processor as the machine will heat the dough and the result will be tough rather than short and flaky. Place the pastry onto a clean surface sprinkled liberally with flour. I tend to roll it out between two sheets of non-stick baking paper, sprinkled with flour, as this helps to easily lift the pastry for lining the tin. Flatten the pastry slightly and roll it out to a thickness of about 3-4mm. Using the rolling pin and baking paper to support the pastry, roll it up and gently unroll it over the tart tin. Press the pastry into the tin, patching any tears or holes. Roll the rolling pin over the top of the tin to remove excess pastry. Cover and chill in the freezer for 30 mins or in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Bake the pastry blind at 190°C for about 20 minutes, until the edges are just starting to colour. Remove from the oven and set onto a wire rack to cool slightly (carefully remove the weights and lining).

Crema al Ficonero

In a large bowl, combine the cream, Rapadura sugar, egg yolks, and Ficonero. Whisk until well combined. Cut each fig into quarters and arrange in neat circles on the base of the crust, with the cut sides facing upwards. Carefully pour the cream mixture around the figs. Lightly sprinkle the extra Rapadura sugar over the figs. This will help caramelise them a little as they cook.

Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C.

Bake for about 50 minutes or until the custard filling is set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.

This tart is best served at room temperature.

Leftovers will keep, covered, for a few days in the refrigerator.

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Disclaimer:  I do own an ILVE oven however the people at the live with ILVE blog were not aware of this fact.   The views expressed here are my own and I have not been asked to provide any reviews nor have I been remunerated in any way by ILVE or any other party.