Fig Tart. Work of Art.

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My in-laws have quite a large back-, front-, side yard garden that I often refer to it as a “farm”.  I don’t know the actual square footage of the land, but I can describe it to you so you have an idea.  They have about a dozen pomegranate trees; I can’t even count how many citrus trees they have; they have peach, avocado, guava, persimmon and plum trees; berry and grape vines; they grow different kinds of tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, onion, and the list goes on…

There are so many things I love about the farm.  One of the best things is my father-in-law (Baba) uses organic methods.  They have 2 cats that roam free out there, and he is his own scare crow– if he sees a bird trying to eat his fruit, he’ll make a lot of noise, clap his hands, or speak to it in farsi and it’ll fly away.  Baba’s farm is his pride and joy.  At 83 years old, he’s out there from sun-up to sun-down, tending to his plants, watering them, talking to them, touching the leaves and getting his plump fingers smothered in dirt.  I actually can’t recall a time when I haven’t seen a leaf either in his hair or somewhere on his shirt.  The farm is his life. And I’m so happy he enjoys sharing it with his family.

When I visit them, I like to walk the grounds.  He finds me and always offers me a piece of fruit or even a fruit tree, then he encourages me to grab a basket and to pick fruit/vegetables to take home.  You know that term farm-to-table? Well, when I’m out there foraging, it’s often farm-to-mouth. There’s nothing more fun than picking mulberries and peaches, blowing off the dirt and eating them fresh off the tree! It’s really a beautiful thing!

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It’s the end of summer and I guess that means it’s fig and peach season.  My in-laws have more than half a dozen fig trees and 3 or 4 mini peach trees.  Their peaches are so delicate and delicious that I can eat whatever I take home with me.  However, figs are a different story.  They are delicious, but they are a bit too sweet for me that I can only eat so many in a day.  Last week I baked a fig torte and shared it with Peyman’s family and my sister.  I was relieved that I was almost finished with my stash of figs.  Then last weekend Baba asked if I wanted to take home more figs.  I said, “Sure, but only a handful, 10 at most, please.” He came back with a box-full.  I ate as many as I could and contemplated making preserves (which would never get eaten because we don’t eat toast and neither do my sisters and my mother-in-law makes her own jam), so I decided to make what used to be my go-to dessert, a tart.  And I remembered that my former pastry chef, Breanne Varela (now Contreras), made a beautiful fig tart when we worked at Tavern.  I thought I’d create the same design and also make a frangipane filling.

If you’ve been a follower of mine on Instagram, you will have noticed that I haven’t made a tart since becoming vegan. That’s because in addition to becoming vegan, I stopped eating gluten and I wasn’t sure how a tart shell would turn out with both a gluten-free flour and coconut oil. (Mind you, I refuse to eat vegan butter…it kind of scares me. How do oils solidify to look like butter?  It looks a bit unnatural to me.  I think coconut oil is the best oil option, if you’re active. Love those medium chain triglycerides!)  Anyway, I was a bit fearful of making a gluten-free vegan crust, but now I am so happy I did because it came out beautifully and to my surprise, I have less guilt about eating a slice. Actually, I have no guilt at all!  I love that I can make a tart with no butter, eggs or processed sugar and yet it can still taste delicious! Also, instead of using dark rum in my frangipane, I simply used coconut palm sugar and cinnamon. It seems that I can use my old, tried and true recipes and sub out ingredients with new and improved staple ingredients; it seems to be working! Hallelujah!

If you’ve been following my blog for years, you know that tarts were my specialty in my pre-vegan days.  I never posted recipes of my tarts on my blog because I’d always wanted a cookbook (and still do) and I was afraid of plagiarism. (Nah mean?) Well, I still want a cookbook but I also like to share the goodness, and so you can get a taste of what my food tastes like.  It’s like being at the grocery store and tasting a grape before buying the $10 bunch; you need to be sure it’s good before you buy it.  A sample, if you will!  Well, believe me, this tart is really good.  And, great news, I have so many other great tart recipes up my sleeve!  So stay tuned and once my cookbook or whatever I put out is ready for the market, I hope you will want a copy!

For now, here’s my first vegan and gluten-free tart recipe!

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Fig and Frangipane Tart

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Essential tool: 9 inch tart pan with removable bottom

 

Ingredients

 

18-20 figs or 1.5 – 2 pounds of figs, quartered length-wise

 

Tart Dough

1/4 cup ice cold filtered water

1 cup plus 2 tbsp oat flour (gluten-free oat flour)

1/4 tsp fine sea salt (I use Himalayan)

6 tbsp (3 oz.) coconut oil (chilled and chunked into tsp pieces. doesn’t have to be perfect)

 

Frangipane Filling

3 tbsp coconut oil

1/3 cup coconut palm sugar

1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp almond meal

1 heaping tbsp arrowroot

pinch sea salt

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1/3 cup almond milk

1.5 tsp vanilla extract (no alcohol)

1/2 tsp almond extract

 

Directions

Tart Dough

1. Place oat flour, salt and cold chunks of coconut oil into food processor. Pulse until coconut oil pieces are pea-sized.

2. While continuously pulsing the oat flour, pour the cold water in (make sure no ice falls in. I just place the measuring cup in the freezer to make it ice cold). Pulse until it almost comes together. (about 3-4 times)

3. Lay out about 13 inches of plastic wrap on the counter (if you don’t have this, use parchment) and pour the dough and flour pieces onto the plastic. Form the dough into a disc shape, about 6 inches in diameter and wrap the sides, leaving about an inch of space when folding. Once it’s wrapped, use a rolling pin to roll out about an inch more.  Roll the dough from the center out. Place in the refrigerator.

4. Make the tart filling. Then spray non-stick cooking spray inside, all over the sides of the tart pan. Place tart pan on a half sheet tray, lined with parchment paper or a silpat (silicone baking mat).

5. When you’re done with the tart filling, remove from the dough from the refrigerator.  If it’s too hard, you will need to wait until it is soft enough to roll out without cracking. But you don’t want it too soft that it melts.  You will have to work quickly.

6. Open the plastic wrap, leaving the plastic on the bottom of the dough and either grab another piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper to place on top of the dough (or manipulate the plastic wrap you have to help you) and roll out the the dough to about an 11-inch in diameter circle.  The crust should still be a bit cold at this point so it’s easier to handle. Bring the sheet tray near you with the sprayed tart pan, and holding the dough circle from the bottom (or wrapping the dough on top of a rolling pin with the plastic on top), quickly flip the dough into the tart pan, then carefully peel off the plastic. Push the dough into the tart pan and onto the sides.  If the dough breaks, no worries, just press it together. If one side needs more dough, take some dough from a thicker side and press it into an area that needs more dough.  Do what you have to do to get what you see below.  If it starts melting and difficult to handle, put it back in the refrigerator to harden up a bit.  Again, make your dough look like below, with no wholes.

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7. Place the tart shell back in the refrigerator or even freezer so it sets a bit. Go to tart filling, step 3.

Tart Filling

1. In a medium mixing bowl, add the coconut palm sugar, salt, cinnamon and wet ingredients: coconut oil, almond milk, vanilla and almond extracts. Stir to combine and to dissolve the salt and sugar. The sugar won’t completely dissolve and that’s fine. Add the almond meal and arrowroot and stir well to combine. Set aside.

2. Go back up to step 5 of the tart dough directions.

3. After the tart shell is set (hardened), take it out of the refrigerator, give the tart filling one or two last stirs, then fill the tart shell with the filling, spreading it evenly to cover the bottom of the tart crust.  Place back in the refrigerator and cut up the figs in the meantime. Cut them length-wise, first in half, then cut the halves in half to get quarters.

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Assembling the the figs in the tart

Once the frangipane has been in the refrigerator for about 5 minutes, place the figs, pointy (stem) side up, round side down, pink side exposed, starting from the outside of the circle, just onto the frangipane, along the crust. The frangipane should hold it in place (but don’t push it through and into the frangipane. Just lay it gently in place). Let the figs touch shoulder to shoulder. For the second layer inward, stagger and repeat. Repeat the hird layer and so on until you get to the center.

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Once you’ve made your fig flower, take a photo because it’ll look awesome raw! Then place the sheet tray with the tart shell on it in the center of the preheated 350 degree F oven for about 45-50 minutes or until the crust gets golden-ish, or like my photos. Since there isn’t butter or cream in the crust, you won’t achieve a true golden color.

It may bubble over a smidge, and when you take it out of the oven, it will look wet.  Be careful not to spill the liquid. Don’t be alarmed. It will set once it cools. Once it is almost cool, carefully remove the tart shell tart pan touching the sides/crust, leaving only the base intact.  (Bottom/base of the tart pan will be intact until you serve the last piece.)  Using 2 spatulas, I placed the tart on a cake stand. You can just put it on a flat large plate to save space and to avoid accidents, if you’d like. Carefully place the tart in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before serving. After 3 hours, the liquid will be set.

I had this with coconut whip for the first time and it was delish! But I also had it without the coconut whip and it was still luxurious.  Peyman has his hang ups with figs so I had to trick him into tasting a piece.  He said it was, “mmm…Good!”

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I hope you enjoy this as much as we did!  Please let me know how yours turns out!

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