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Fresh Fig Tart

Fresh Fig Tart
T. Susan Chang for NPR /

Gina de Palma makes this lovely tart with quartered figs (Dolce Italiano, by Gina DePalma, Norton 2007). I prefer to slice the figs into 1/8-inch slices, because they make such a hypnotically gorgeous pattern. If you use thin slices, as I do, just squeeze the lemon and sprinkle the sugar over them at the last minute rather than trying to toss them in the lemon and sugar. The tart is wonderful served warm or at room temperature, with a dollop of mascarpone, if desired. Wrapped in plastic, it will keep in the refrigerator for a few days.

Makes one 10-inch tart (8 to 10 servings)

Sweet Tart Crust (see below)

1/4 cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened

1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

1 large egg yolk

1 tablespoon honey

1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted and finely ground

12 to 15 medium fresh black mission figs or brown, green or purple Turkish figs

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 cup granulated sugar

On a floured surface, roll the tart dough into an 11-inch circle 1/8-inch thick. Transfer the dough to a 10-inch tart pan with fluted sides and a removable bottom by rolling the dough onto the pin like a carpet and then unrolling it onto the pan. Press the dough into the bottom and sides of the pan, then trim it so it is flush with the top of the pan. Chill the tart shell while you make the filling.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and position a rack in the center.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, use the paddle attachment on medium speed to cream together the butter and confectioners' sugar. Beat in the egg yolk, followed by the honey, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat in the ground almonds. Remove the tart shell from the refrigerator and spread the filling evenly on the bottom with a spatula or the back of a large spoon.

Trim the stems off the figs and cut the figs into lengthwise quarters (or thinner slices). Place them in a large bowl and sprinkle the lemon juice and granulated sugar over them, tossing to coat the figs evenly.

Arrange the figs on top of the tart filling, skin side down, flesh side up, in a circular pattern.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes, rotating tart after about 15 minutes to ensure even browning. The figs should be soft and collapsing, and the filling should be lightly golden brown.

Allow the tart to cool for at least 30 minutes on a rack before carefully removing the sides of the pan.

Sweet Tart Crust

2 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Freshly grated zest of 1 lemon or 1 small orange

3/4 cup (6 ounces) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup heavy cream

A few drops ice water, if necessary

Place the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and citrus zest in the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times to combine the dry ingredients. Add all of the cold, cubed butter to the bowl and pulse to process the mixture until it is sandy and there are no visible lumps of butter.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolk, vanilla extract and heavy cream. Add the wet ingredients to the food processor and pulse 3 or 4 times, or until the dough comes together. If necessary, add some ice water, a few drops at a time, to make the dough come together.

Remove the dough from the food processor and work it with your hands to even out any dry and wet spots. Form the dough into a ball, flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic and chill until firm, 1 to 2 hours, before rolling it out. You can also freeze the dough, well wrapped, for up to 2 months.

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