Saffron Fig Tart Recipe
This dessert combines figs and saffron, two of my favorite ingredients. There is just something so sinfully luxurious about the color, flavor and texture of both items, that when combined, you just know you're in for something really special.
To make the dessert, I pre-baked a homemade tart shell and filled it with saffron-flavored custard. Over the custard I layered freshly picked and sliced figs from our garden. Fruit preserves gave the tart a nice gloss, and for an extra pop of color and texture, I added a thin layer of crumbled pistachios. As elegant and sophisticated as this tart may look, it's actually pretty easy to put together, assuming you know the basics of making tart shells and custards. It can be easily modified to work with your favorite ingredients, so learn the basics, experiment and have fun!
Yields: 2 9-inch tarts20 tablespoons unsalted butter (2½ sticks), diced, + 2 tablespoons for the cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon canola oil (or any neutral oil)
1¾ cups powdered sugar
2 whole eggs, at room temperature
4 egg yolks
1¾ cups whole milk
¼ cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons corn starch
½ cup almond flour
½ teaspoon saffron threads
4 cups all-purpose flour, + 1 tablespoon for the crème pâtissière
⅛ teaspoon salt, + 1 pinch for the crème pâtissière
16 small Black Mission figs, the quantity varies with the size of the fruit
⅓ cup apricot preserves, warm
⅛ cup coarsely crushed pistachios, lightly roasted
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
For the pastry dough: In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. In another bowl, place the powdered sugar. Sift all the dry ingredients separately.
Using a handheld mixer, whisk 2 whole eggs with 3 tablespoons of powdered sugar until you have a pale yellow foam. It will take about 5-6 minutes. The consistency must be very airy. Add ½ teaspoon vanilla. Stir well with a spatula. Set aside.
Lightly oil the bowl of your food processor. Add the flour, almond flour, salt and remaining powdered sugar. Blend for a few seconds, then add the cold butter. Pulse the mixture until it forms crumbs of butter and flour. Add the egg mixture. Pulse another 3-4 times until it forms a dough. Do NOT over-mix. Transfer the dough onto a pastry board lined with a sheet of parchment paper. Divide into 2 equal amounts. Place a silicone mat (or parchment paper) on top of the dough like a sandwich. Using a rolling pin, even out the dough to about ½-inch thick. Create 2 12-inch disks. Chill in the refrigerator.
For the tart shell: Place the dough rounds in non-stick, round, loose-bottomed, (9-inch) tart molds lined with parchment paper; following the curve of the mold, crimp the dough against the edge. Leave a little excess above the edge because the dough will settle a bit in the oven. Make sure the dough isn't cracked (or patch it if it is). Prick the dough with a fork. Chill in the refrigerator for about 20-30 minutes. Line the dough with another sheet of parchment paper and top with ceramic pie weights (or dried beans). Place the tart pans on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes. Remove the pie weights and bake for an additional 5 minutes to let the dough dry out. Allow to cool to room temperature. Set aside.
Prepping the saffron: In a mortar and pestle, grind the saffron threads into a powder.
For the crème pâtissière: Using a handheld mixer, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until foamy and pale yellow. Add the remaining (1½ teaspoons) vanilla extract, corn starch, salt and flour.
On the stove, combine the milk and heavy cream into a deep sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat right away.
Combine the dairy liquid with the egg mixture by slowly adding a ladle of the dairy liquid at a time to prevent the yolks from curdling.
Transfer all the mixture back to the deep sauce pan. Cook until the cream thickens, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Turn off the heat and add the powdered saffron (reserving a few pinches for later) and 2 tablespoons of butter. Stir well. Transfer the crème pâtissière to a bowl. Place the bowl into an ice bath. When the cream is cool completely, cover with a piece of plastic wrap; make sure the plastic wrap is directly in contact with the pastry cream to keep it from forming a skin. Let the cream cool completely.
Place crème pâtissière in the center of each tart shell. Even out the layer using a baking spatula.
Trim the stems of the figs. Cut them in half, then cut each half into thirds.
Top the tarts with the fig wedges, fanning them into a pretty design. Finish by brushing the top of the tarts with the warm apricot preserves. Sprinkle with the reserved pinches of saffron and the pistachios. Allow to rest for at least 10 minutes.
Serve at room temperature.
I think it's best to form the pastry dough 1 day in advance. Store it in the refrigerator overnight. The dough will be easier to roll and won't be crumbly.
Rolling the dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper (or silicon mat) prevent the addition of extra flour on the rolling surface, which can change the texture of the dough.
Little reminder on how to obtain almond flour: Place whole almonds in a saucepan (count 2 to 3 ounces). Cover with water and bring to a boil for about 3 minutes. Drain and remove the skin. Coarsely chop them. Grind the almonds with a food processor or spice grinder (I use the VitaMix Dry Blade Container). Make sure you stop before it turns into almond butter. The result should be a fine white mill. You could also buy it directly (you can find almond flour at Trader Joe's).
You can make this fresh fruit tart with any other fruits such as plums, peaches, mandarins, strawberries, pears depending on the season.
I attempted to create a pretty design around the edge of the tart, using the remnant pieces of dough. I formed braids and decorated the edges. Unfortunately, I didn't "stick" the dough by using an egg wash (I got lazy and simply pressed them against the edges), so some of the "braids" fell apart while baking.Published By: on September 21, 2012.