Fall doesn’t mean fruit desserts have to come to an end. In fact, this fig and mascarpone tart is one of my favorites. Its appeal is its simplicity: a nutty, pistachio crust; a lightly sweet, creamy mascarpone filling, brightened up with a touch of lemon zest; and the freshest, one-day-from-being-overripe figs you can find.
The crust requires no rolling–just press it into your pie tin. You only need to bake the crust–so aside from letting the pastry dough chill in the freezer for 45 minutes or so, cooking time is short. And this works dangerously well as a breakfast dessert (bressert, if you will).
Figs will be gone in a couple of weeks. Make this before they leave.
Fig and mascarpone tart with pistachio crust (makes one 9″ tart or six 4.5″ tarts)
From Desserts for Breakfast
2 cups less 2 tablespoons flour
heaping 1/2 cup shelled pistachios
1/4 cup sugar
7 tablespoons butter
1 egg yolk
3-4 tablespoons cold water
16 ounces mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
freshly grated zest of 1 lemon
1 to 1 1/4 pounds figs*
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons raspberry jam (or fig or apricot, or any mixture thereof)
In a food processor, combine the flour, pistachios, and sugar and process until the pistachios are finely ground. Add the cold butter into the flour mixture and process until the size of small peas. Add the egg yolk and gradually add the water just until a dough begins to form when you press it between two fingers. Do not over mix.
Form the pastry into a ball and refrigerate for at least one hour (or put in the freezer for a shorter amount of time).
Preheat the oven to 425 F. Remove the pastry dough from the fridge and press the dough into the tart pan. Prick the bottom of the dough all over with a fork, cover with parchment paper, and weigh down using dry beans or pie weights. Return to freezer for a few minutes if the dough has softened.
Bake for 13-15 minutes until the edges just begin to turn golden. Remove the beans and parchment paper and continue to bake for 3-5 minutes more, until the crust has completely turned golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.
While the pastry is chilling, whip the mascarpone, brown sugar, and heavy cream in a mixing bowl with beaters on medium high until soft peaks form. Add the vanilla extract and lemon zest and continue to whip just until stiff peaks. Do not over mix. Spoon the filling into the cooled tart shell, and smooth with a spatula.
Cut the figs into quarters and arrange on top of the mascarpone tart filling. (I started in the middle and worked outward from there.)
Warm the honey and jam together, either over the stove or in the microwave. Brush/drizzle carefully over the arranged figs.
*Note: Though figs are easy to find in France and Australia, in America, I’ve only had consistent luck at farmer’s markets in the fall, when figs are in season. I used Red Mission figs, but any kind will do, as long as they are soft and ripe. If the figs aren’t very ripe, it’s worth warming the sliced figs briefly in the oven with the honey to soften them up before arranging them on the tart.