You know, I consider myself to be a fairly decent cook. Sometimes even good. However, sometimes, there are just some recipes that I can't conquer. That used to be the ultimate grilled cheese, but I think I finally figured that one out. Yea, go figure. I can spend HOURS on croissants and danishes, yet it wasn't 3 years ago that I couldn't make a grilled cheese without burning the sucker...
There are also some recipes that really make me feel dumb. This is one of them. When I first saw this recipe in my Baking with Julia cookbook (the well used one, not the signed one), I thought eww...that's a way to ruin a good fig. But, the recipe grew on me. I first made it because I wanted to try the unusual pastry.
Imagine it - Sesame-Almond Dough. It's really quite delicious. You can use it in many things, including just rolling it out and making bar cookies with it. What really stands out in this recipe, however, is the filling. It's amazing. Who knew that raspberries would be the perfect foil for sweet figs...well, I didn't. That's why I felt a little bit dumb when I first tried it. More like What was I thinking - of course it's delicious!
This recipe is not for the feint of heart - while the dough tastes amazing, it will turn your hair gray. It likes to fall apart, and sticks to EVERYTHING...but it is very much worth it. Keep it very very cold, and don't pulverize the almonds too much, and you are good to go.
From: Baking with Julia
2 eggs, room temperature
1 t. vanilla
3/4 c. blanched almonds, toasted and cooled
1/2 c. sesame seeds, toasted and cooled
1/2 c. sugar
2 c. flour
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. finely chopped lemon zest
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" cubes
Whisk the eggs together with the vanilla extract until blended; set aside until needed.
Put the almonds, sesame seeds, and 1 T. sugar in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse until the almonds are very finely chopped, but stop before they turn pasty. Turn the mixture into a mixer bowl. Add remaining sugar, the flour, cinnamon, salt, and zest. Mix on low speed for a few seconds, just to combine.
Keeping the mixer on low, add the butter and mix the mixture until it resembles fine crumbs. Add the egg mixture, mixing only until the dough is uniformly moistened and forms large chunks. Turn the mixture out onto a work surface. Separate into 2 disks - one 2/3 of the dough, the other 1/3 of the dough. Roll 2/3 of the dough out into a large circle, and gently place in a 9" fluted tart pan. With the remaining dough, roll into a circle and cut into strips for lattice or cut with cookie cutters for a decorative top.
You can also make 4 mini tarts with this dough.
3/4 lb. fresh figs, quartered
3/4 lb. fresh raspberries
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 1/2 T. flour
1/2 t. lemon zest
1 T. butter
2 t. lemon juice
Put half the fruit in a medium saucepan. Add the sugars, flour, lemon zest, and butter and stir to mix. Bring the mixture to a soft boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Turn the mixture into a bowl and stir in the uncooked fruit. Taste a spoonful, paying attention to the liquid and add lemon juice as needed. Cool the filling to room temperature.
Pour the cooled filling into the prepared tart pan and brush the edges with an egg wash (1 egg mixed with 1 T. cold water). Decorate the top how you want.
Chill the tart for about 30 minutes before baking. Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Serve at room temperature.