Figs. Quite possibly the most beautiful edible fruit in existence. They are at their peak in Charlottesville, and I can't get enough of the soft globes that are actually inverted flowers (Did you know? I did not. Thanks, Megan!). We foraged for them over on Beyond the Flavor, joining our friend Daniel as he visited some of his favorite fig-gathering haunts around the city. Eagerly awaiting their arrival each September, I've been known to stake out trees on the University of Virginia grounds; faithfully driving by each day for weeks waiting for the green fruit to turn rosey, only to be foiled by a student who reached the trees an hour before us on the day they were finally ripe. The sight of his retreating form, bag of fresh figs full to bursting at his side, still saddens my heart.
On Beyond the Flavor, we've asked our readers to submit their favorite fig recipes. (Like us on Facebook and submit your recipe here, if you've got a favorite to share. There's a prize for the winner!) While my preferred way to consume a fig is fresh, straight from the tree, I wanted to try something new for this little contest we're holding. I thought about a savory treat, but settled on sweet because, let's be honest, that's my area.
A quick internet search resulted in this recipe, whose simplicity and un-touched figs caught my attention. There were obstacles that stood in my way - a lack of sour cream in the refrigerator and an oven that broke in the middle of baking the crust - but I persevered and was able to share four pieces amongst friends. The firm crust with a cornmeal crunch paired nicely with soft, lemon-scented cream and the pop of tiny fig seeds between teeth. We four enjoyed it immensely, outside under the stars, while our friends' dog enjoyed the leftovers on the countertop in the kitchen upstairs. A disappointment, for sure, as I had at least one more piece earmarked for the next morning's breakfast.
My craving not fully satisfied, I'll be making this tart again. As soon as we fix the oven.
Fresh Fig Tart with Rosemary Cornmeal Crust + Lemon Mascarpone Cream
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal (not stone-ground)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 4 to 5 tablespoons ice water
- 1/3 cup sour cream (I used Greek yogurt instead)
- 1 cup mascarpone cheese (8 oz)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 lb fresh figs
- Pulse together flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Add butter and rosemary and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Drizzle evenly with 4 tablespoons ice water and pulse until just incorporated.
- Gently squeeze a small handful: If it doesn't hold together, add more water, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition and continuing to test.
- Press dough evenly onto bottom and up sides of tart pan with floured fingers. Smooth dough with a small offset metal spatula or back of a spoon (floured if necessary), then roll a rolling pin over top of pan to trim dough flush with rim. Chill crust until firm, about 30 minutes.
filling + assembly
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Bake crust in middle of oven until center and edges are golden, 25 to 30 minutes (don't worry if bottom of crust cracks), then cool in pan on a rack.
- filling + assembly
- Whisk together sour cream, mascarpone, sugar, zest, and salt in a bowl.
- Remove side of tart pan and spread mascarpone cream in shell. Cut figs lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices and arrange decoratively over cream.
For those of you missing more regular Bella Eats posts, you really should hop over to Beyond the Flavor. I am there more often than I am here, although I haven't given up on this little corner of the internet. I know I've said this before, many times, but I do hope to carve out more time to spend in this space I created nearly four (4!!!) years ago. After all, it was the inspiration for everything I am doing today with food and photography, and I can't bear to see it fade away. Many thanks to all of you who stick around, comment, and poke me with emails to say hello. I appreciate each and every one of you. xoxo.