Fresh figs rate among my very favorite fruits, and they show up at the best time of year, when summer produce is having its last hurrah and fall’s firmer fruits are showing up. Figs are like a special envoy sent in to make the transition easier, getting along as well with raspberries and peaches as they do with pears.
I was recently charged with bringing dessert to a dinner party where I knew that at least a third of the guests preferred their sweets to be not so sweet. I looked at the pile of figs on the other side of my bedroom/office/living room/kitchen. I considered an easy, composed dessert of ricotta, figs, honey, and walnuts, but that seemed a little lazy. I used to bake for a living, after all, and what good is this apartment with an oven if I’m never going to use it? Anyway, I had no ricotta.
What I did have — what I almost always have — is fresh chèvre. There was also piece of pâte brisée in my freezer. A tart was born.
Fig and Chèvre Tart
a 9″ tart shell, fully baked
10-12 fresh figs
1/4 c sugar, divided
1/4 t finely grated orange zest
4 1/2 oz (125 g) fresh chèvre (at room temp)
1/2 c (100 g) crème fraîche or heavy cream (at room temp)
2 egg yolks (at room temp)
1. Preheat your oven to 350°. Trim the stems from the figs and cut them in half. Toss the fruit with 1 tablespoon of the sugar and set aside while you prepare the filling.
2. Make the filling: Put the chèvre, orange zest, and remaining sugar in a small bowl and use a rubber spatula to stir and smooth it out. Add the crème fraîche or cream, a little at a time, and continue to mix and smush with your spatula to remove any lumps of chèvre and create a homogenous mixture. Stir in the egg yolks.
3. Spread the filling evenly in the bottom of your pre-baked shell and arrange the figs on top of the filling. Bake the tart for 20-30 minutes, until the figs are tender and the filling is set and starting to brown.
This tart is best served the day it is made, at room temperature or still slightly warm from the oven.
Variations: If you are a honey lover, try using honey instead of sugar in the filling and with the figs. If you have some raspberries, they would be a delicious addition. Toss a handful gently with the figs just before assembling and baking the tart.