Camembert Stuffed Fig Puffs
I went into the garden today and I noticed we had a huge crop of Black Mission figs. I think I gathered probably two full baskets. We had some last minute guests come over this afternoon, and I decided to put the figs I just picked to good use. Since they were coming over for tea, I thought that bite size appetizers would be in order. I stuffed the figs with camembert and some thyme from the garden. I then rested each fig on a bed of puff pastry and baked them in the oven.
A lot of my cooking is my own improvisation. If you know what flavors combinations work well together, it's easy to come up with new recipes when you're in a pinch. Figs stuffed with camembert is a classic combination, and really, what doesn't puff pastry go with?
Unfortunately, I didn't have any ready-made puff pastry, so I had to make some myself. The result isn't as beautiful as Julia's from Mélanger, but it also didn't take six hours to make! I have to give a special shout out to Julia for taking the effort to make pâte feuilletée at home.
I think our guests enjoyed the little bite-sized fig appetizers. You could make a similar dish with many other fruits, so experiment and have fun!
Yields: 6 servings12 Black Mission figs
1 teaspoon oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 cup cold water
21 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold (2 sticks of butter + 5 tablespoons)
4 tablespoons horseradish mustard (or regular)
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 pinch white pepper
6 sprigs fresh red thyme, halved
1 small camembert cheese, diced, at room temperature
1 teaspoon curly parsley (optional), finely chopped
For the quick and easy puff pastry dough:
Lightly oil the bowl of your food processor with a silicone brush. Then mix the flour, salt and 4 tablespoons of diced cold butter. Add the cold water and vinegar and pulse until the dough is formed. Do NOT over-mix. Transfer the dough to a large bowl lined with plastic wrap and encase the dough with it. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Roll the dough into a 10-inch square.
Place the remaining blocks of butter between 2 large sheets of parchment paper. Roll the butter into a 6-inch square.
Place both squares in the refrigerator for about 20-30 minutes. If you don't have time, place in the freezer for 15 minutes.
Place the square of butter onto the dough so that the corners of the butter are rotated 45° away from the corners of the dough. In other words, the butter should look like a diamond placed inside of the square of dough. Fold the corners of the dough in towards the straight edges of the butter. The butter shuold be totally enveloped.
Roll the dough into a long 18" x 6-inch rectangle. Fold the dough into thirds and roll one more time re-creating an 18" x 6-inch rectangle. The puff pastry dough is ready.
Create 12 3-1/2-inch puff pastry squares. Stack the squares, placing little squares of parchment paper between them. Chill in the refrigerator until you're ready to assemble the figs.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
For the camembert: Gather 12 cubes of camembert. Stick a half sprig of thyme into one side of the cheese.
For the figs: Wash the figs and pat them dry. Make a cross incision starting from the stem of the figs, cutting three-quarters of the way to the root.
Assembly time: Place a silicon mat or a sheet of parchment paper on a baking tray. Place the puff pastry squares onto the silicon mat. Spread about 1 teaspoon of mustard in the center of each puff pastry. Place the figs onto the dough. Drizzle each fig with about a teaspoon of agave nectar. Sprinkle with pepper.
Bake for 12 minutes at 400°F until the puff pastry is puffed and flaky, then lower the temperature to 375°F, add a cube of camembert in the fig cavity and bake for another 4 minutes. The cheese should soften but not melt completely and the puff pastry dough should be nice and golden with juicy, pinkish fig syrup in the inside.
Before serving, garnish with some parsley if you like.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
Agave nectar, sometimes called agave syrup, is a natural sweetener. In France, it's called agave honey. Unlike honey, agave nectar has a long shelf life and does not crystallize over time. Agave nectar is made from the purified sap of cactus-like desert plants. It's very popular in Mexico. Because it's not heated during production, it's considered raw, which make it very healthy like raw honey. Unlike raw honey though, agave nectar is easy to spread and drizzle because of its consistency. It’s available in specialty stores and is becoming more widely available in regular supermarkets. I found mine at Super Walmart during my trip to Florida a few months ago.
I usually use store-bought puff pastry dough from the Iranian store. I know what you're going to say: Why the Iranian store? Often, I have found that the puff pastry dough sold at local chain stores is made with hydrogenated oils instead of butter. At the Iranian store, it's always made with butter. I think it's safer to make your own. Today, I didn't have any puff pastry dough left in the freezer and no time to run to the grocery store, so I made it the quick and easy way. I hope I didn't offend any pastry experts! This took me 1 hour, tops while multi-tasking and preparing other savory appetizers.
The key to good puff pastry dough is a good quality yellow butter. I know it's going to sound weird, but I always try to keep good quality French butter in the freezer for making pastries.
The white vinegar prevents the puff pastry from getting black dots and changing color over time.
I didn't describe how I created the fancy design for the puff pastry. It's fairly simple, but I don't think it would be very clear unless I demonstrate it in a video, so I'm leaving out this part for later .
Don't discard the remnants of puff pastry. Make some cheese twists the next day!
Published By: on September 5, 2009.