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Fig frangipane tart makes a holiday statement

Fig tart. (Adriana Janovich / The Spokesman-Review)
Fig tart. (Adriana Janovich / The Spokesman-Review)

Mild, cake-like and creamy but not too rich, this fig frangipane tart makes for a dramatic offering on the holiday table.

The halved, exotic-looking fruit is what does it. A fluted tart pan only adds to the prettiness.

Frangipane, a French almond-based cake and tart filling, isn’t as sweet as almond paste or marzipan, the moldable candy that’s similar in consistency – but not in taste – to fondant.

It’s traditionally found in the middle of galette des rois, or kings’ cake, flaky and buttery pastry filled with frangipane and prepared for the Epiphany on Jan. 6.

Ground almonds are combined with butter, sugar and eggs to make the filling, which looks especially impressive with fruit nestled into the mixture.

Once you’ve rolled out the dough, the delicate, almond-flavored filling comes together quickly. You’ll a need a food processor if you’re grinding your own almonds. Or, you could buy pre-ground almond meal.

Don’t really like figs? Use this recipe yearlong as a base, and dot the filling with your favorite seasonal fruit and berries: pears, peaches, plums, apricots, raspberries, strawberries and cherries. Plop whatever you like on top.

This time of year, try an oversized apple rose – made from arranging warmed, slice apples in the shape of a flower – or that classic combination of cranberries and oranges.

Brush the top with honey or a vanilla- or citrus-scented glaze. Slivered almonds and a dusting of powdered sugar make a lovely topping, too.

Fig Frangipane Tart

From www.ricardocuisine.com

The recipe calls for a honey glaze and fresh figs. If you don’t have any on hand, try tea-poached dried figs, then glaze the top of the tart with the cooked-down poaching liquid.

For the crust

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

For the frangipane

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 eggs

1 1/4 cups ground almonds

3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

For the garnish

8 fresh figs, halved

1 whole fresh fig

3 tablespoons warm honey

For the crust: In a bowl, cream the butter and sugar using an electric mixer. Add the egg and beat until the mixture is smooth. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients. The mixture will have a sandy texture. Using your fingertips, press the dough into a 10 1/2-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

With the rack in the bottom position, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

For the frangipane: In a bowl, cream the butter with the sugar and vanilla using an electric mixer. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until the mixture is smooth. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients. Scrape the mixture into the pie shell.

For the garnish: Place the whole fig in the center and arrange the fig halves all around, cut side up, leaving space between each fig.

Bake until the frangipane is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. After removing the tart from the oven, gently brush the figs with warm honey. Let cool. Serve warm or cold.

Yield: 8 servings


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