In my March 2013 issue of Delicious magazine I feature a recipe which includes roasted figs ~ a fruit which to-date I rarely use. I am very much a textural eater, loving crunchy, layered textures and I have always held a bit of disdain for anything which is 'seedy' or lumpy - even teeny-tiny ones like with the seeds in a fig or pear . However I have discovered if you roast figs that 'seedy/gritty' taste is less obvious and if you get ripe, sweet figs, the flavour is so amazing ~ so I am coming around to them.
99% of the people I have met in my life, completely and utterly flippin' ADORE figs, and my Father-in-law; Bob is one of them. Therefore, for dinner recently I decided to make him a dessert using loads of figs. I discovered after some research that figs pair excellently with orange and mint so with that in mind, here's my recipe for Roasted Fig Tart with Orange Blossom, Cinnamon and Mint Cream filling.
You can make 80% of this tart in advance. Bake the pastry shell the night before and store in a air-tight tin or tupperware box, and you can mix the cream filling the eve before too and chill overnight, covered ~ however don't fold in the whipped cream until you are assembling the tart an hour or two before your guests arrive. I find whipped cream doesn't last the night in the fridge. I don't like it anyway, I have memories as a kid of my Mum making pavlovas for dinner parties and the morning after when I'd come down to gobble up the left-overs out of the fridge, I hated the taste of the day-old cream, to me it always tastes a little curdled and 'old' s0 long story short - don't add the whipped cream until the dat of serving.
BTW ~ If you can't get your hands on agave nectar, use runny honey instead.
For the Aussie readers; a tip ~ I normally buy the best pastry I can afford if I am not making it myself. This tends to be Careme brand and I tested this recipe 3 times with their vanilla bean shortcrust pastry however I found it's not the right choice for this tart. The pastry shrank in the tin on all occasions even with chilling first - this may not be an issue for some, but for me I hate it when the sides of a pie crust are all uneven and lower on one side but not the other. I ended up using supermarket fave - Pampas and it worked perfectly. Obviously if you have time you can make your own pastry - for which I have a recipe here.
200g creme fraiche
200g mascarpone cheese
1 tbsp orange blossom water
Small pinch ground cinnamon
1/4 cup icing sugar, sifted
8 fresh mint leaves, super finely chopped
1 cup cream, whipped
YOU WILL ALSO NEED
Sweet shortcrust pastry ~ enough to line a 21cm x 29cm x 2cm tin
12 fresh figs, quartered
100g whole hazelnuts, roasted
Extra fresh mint leaves to serve
Softened butter to grease baking tin
Light agave nectar to serve
Icing sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 200˚C /390˚F.
Liberally grease a 21cm x 29cm x 2cm fluted, loose-bottom baking tin with softened butter. Line the tin with sweet shortcrust pastry and prick base all over with a fork. Place in the freezer for 15 mins. This sometimes helps to avoid pastry shrinkage when baking ~ however I have found from experience this will vary based on the different pastry brands, for some it helps greatly, other brands don't need chilling at all, it's a bit of a trial and error situation until you find a brand you are happy with.
Remove from freezer and with a piece of non-stick baking parchment (I like to rip off a piece, scrunch it all up, then flatten out ~ as this way it's easier to line over the pastry), fill with uncooked rice and push down lightly to fill the pastry case evenly. Base in the preheated oven for 15 mins then remove rice and paper and return to the oven for a further 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. Allow to cool completely before removing from tin.
To make the cream filling; place creme fraiche, mascarpone, orange blossom water, cinnamon, icing sugar and mint into a mixing bowl and whip to combine thoroughly. Fold in the whipped cream and chill in the fridge until required.
To roast the figs, preheat oven to 180˚C/350˚F, place fig quarters on a baking sheet and drizzle with a little light agave nectar. Roast for 5-6 minutes only, any longer and they will become too mushy ~ especially if they are quite ripe. Remove and allow to cool thoroughly.
To assemble the tart, add the cream to the pastry shell and spread out evenly. Insert the cooled fig quarters into the cream in lines then scatter the tops with the crushed roasted hazelnuts and serve with a final drizzle of agave nectar, a scattering of small fresh mint leaves and a dusting of icing sugar.