fig & blackberry tartlets

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More summer, please! I’m not ready to throw in the towel yet. I have a maxi dress hanging in the closet that’s never been worn. And I could really, really use a proper beach day. And a few more bottles of rosé (aka summer drank). Can’t we keep the barbecues going for just a bit longer?

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We spent last weekend camping in Big Sur. It was exactly what the doctor ordered. My love for Big Sur runs deep. It’s been an entire decade since my very first trip down there. And just as long since the last time I camped. I almost forgot how much I love sleeping in a tent and lazy afternoons by the river and a good ole fashion s’more and cocktails by the campfire. I had such an amazing time. I can’t wait to get back there. I think this needs to happen every summer.

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Guess what else needs to happen every summer? If your guess had anything to do with these tartlets, you are correct. I get super excited when the late season figs come rolling into town. And they are abundant at the moment. There’s nothing like a super ripe fig, sweet and jammy and practically bursting at the seams. They are perfect as is, and they are equally wonderful baked with blackberries and hazelnuts in a sweet, buttery pastry. Make it happen.

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fig & blackberry tartlets

from Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard by Nigel Slater

makes 4 tartlets

for the pastry: 

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour 

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes 

1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar , plus more for dusting 

1 large egg yolk 

Put the flour in a medium mixing bowl and add the butter. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour. Add the powdered sugar and egg yolk and mix until combined. Bring the dough together and squeeze it into a round. Roll it into a short log, fat log. Wrap the dough in plastic and transfer to the refrigerator. Chill for 30 minutes.

for the filling:

8 ounces blackberries, about 1-3/4 cups 

4 large figs, coarsely chopped  

4 tablespoons blackberry or red currant jelly, melted

juice of half a lemon 

1/2 cup ground hazelnuts 

Place the blackberries, figs, and chopped hazelnuts in a bowl. Add the melted jelly and lemon juice and toss.

to assemble:

4  3-1/2 inch tartlet pans

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Divide the pastry into four equal pieces. Place a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper over the dough. Using the palm of your hand, flatten each piece on a floured board. Line each pan with a round of dough, leaving the excess hanging over the edges. Don’t worry if the dough cracks – just patch it together. Divide the filling between the four tart shells, then loosely fold over the pastry, leaving the fruit in the center visible.

Place the tarts on a baking sheet and bake for 30 – 35 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and the fruit is bubbling. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve warm or cool.

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persimmon galette

One of the things I love most about Autumn is the arrival of persimmons. I love their gorgeous color, subtle sweetness and overall precious appearance. Describing the flavor of a persimmon to one who has never tasted the fruit is a bit tricky. I often refer to the fuyu variety as having a naturally sweet pumpkin flavor with the texture of a crisp nectarine. While I do enjoy the Hachiya variety, which has an almost gelatinous texture when eaten properly,  I often don’t have the patience for their ripening process (which can take weeks!).

Living in California means that it’s likely that a friend or neighbor has their very own persimmon tree, and it is such a treat when said friend or neighbor delivers a bag full of home grown persimmons right to your door. I recently acquired a few pounds of fuyus and although I could eat a persimmon (or two or three) a day, I thought it would be more exciting to bake with these beauties.

prebaked persimmons

After a morning of searching cookbooks and other resources, I realized that there is a major shortage of persimmon recipes out there. Inspired by the stone fruit galettes of Summer, I layered sliced persimmons over frangipane cream on a buttery tart dough. The combination of the smooth almond filling, tender but slightly crunchy fruit, and the flaky crust was the perfect way to end a Sunday dinner with my tiny eighty-four year old Granny, who has the appetite of someone half her age and twice her size, and is also a persimmon fan.

persimmon galette

makes one 11 inch tart

Basic Tart Dough

1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small cubes

1/4 cup ice-cold water

Combine flour, salt and butter with a pastry blender. While stirring with a fork, slowly add cold water until dough begins to form clumps. Add a bit more water if necessary but be mindful not to add too much as this will result in a tough crust.  Form dough into a ball and wrap in plastic. Flatten ball into a disc and refrigerate for at least one hour before rolling.

Frangipane Cream

Note: This recipe yields enough for two tarts. I had planned on listing the ingredients to reflect a half portion, but dividing 1 egg for the conversion made it somewhat complicated.

1 cup raw or blanched almonds

1/2 cup sugar

pinch of salt

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and divided into 6 pieces

Combine almonds, salt and sugar in a food processor until finely ground. Add the egg and process until combined. Add the butter and process until smooth.

3-6 fuyu persimmons, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick

1/2 teaspoon orange zest

3 tablespoons butter, melted

5 tablespoons sugar, divided

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 400°. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface until 1/8 inch thick. Place dough on a baking sheet and transfer to the refrigerator. Toss the persimmons with 1 tablespoon sugar and orange zest. Set aside. Remove dough from refrigerator and spread 1/2 of frangipane cream on dough, leaving a 1 1/2 inch border. Lay persimmon slices on top of frangipane, overlapping fruit tightly in circles. Fold the dough border over the persimmons and brush dough with butter and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar. Brush remaining butter on fruit and sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar combined with nutmeg. Bake on the bottom rack of the oven until crust is golden on the bottom, 45-55 minutes. Let cool on a rack. Best served immediately.