Autumn. Here you are in all your red and yellow hued splendor. As the leaves start falling, crisped by the cooled air, I can't help but want to curl up with a good book, a cup of tea, and something a little sweet. Right now my "something" is figs. The luscious jammy texture and adorably perfect size make figs my snack of choice at the moment. Out of my moderate obsession with this healthy and delicious culinary powerhouse, this tart recipe was born. It combines the robust fig flavor with that of wildflower honey, slightly tangy mascarpone, and a nutty buckwheat crust. A generous slice of this tart goes very well with tea indeed.
Fig and Honeyed Mascarpone Buckwheat Tart
serves 8 (or 4-6, or 2...you decide)
Buckwheat Tart Crust:
2/3 cup buckwheat flour
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt (pink salt recommended - it's my new thing and it's fantastic)
2 tablespoons cane sugar (use what you like but sugar with a deep molasses-y taste does well here)
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons very cold water
In a food processor add the flours, sugar, and salt. Pulse to combine the ingredients. Add the cubes of butter and pulse until the flour mixture gathers into pea sized crumbles. Continue to pulse while slowly adding the cold water 1/2 tablespoon at a time (you may need as little as 1 tablespoon or as much as 2 tablespoons). The dough should come together into somewhat of a ball. As soon as it does, you're done...with that. Remove the dough and, using your hands, form it into a disk 1/2-3/4 inch thick. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to overnight. If you do plan to chill it longer than 30 minutes, you will need to let it sit out for 10-15 minutes before rolling it out.
Once you're ready to roll:
On a lightly floured work surface roll out the dough into a 11 inch circle about 1/4 inch thick. Carefully roll the dough onto the rolling pin and unroll it onto a 9 inch tart pan. Lightly press the dough into the edges and sides of the pan. It may start to crack a little. If it does, you can gently push the dough back together. With your rolling pin, roll gently (I feel like I'm saying "gently" a lot. Maybe it's because I'm so heavy handed and tend to pummel things with my rolling pin?) across the top of the pan to remove overhanging dough. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes. Line the pastry dough with tin foil and add pie weights to the center. Bake for 17 minutes. Remove the foil and weights and bake for an additional 8-10 minutes until the crust is firm and nicely browned. Set the crust aside to cool.
Honeyed Mascarpone Filling:
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
1/4-1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons good honey (I use wildflower honey but I've also used buckwheat honey with seriously wicked results.)
Using a stand mixer, whip mascarpone on a low speed, slowly adding the vanilla extract and then the honey. Slowly add the whipping cream until the filling is smooth. Careful- if you overdo it, it will become a texture akin to butter (not what you're going for here). Scoop the filling into the tart and spread it evenly.
*I've used different brands of mascarpone and find I sometimes need only 1/4 cup of whipping cream and sometimes closer to 1/2 cup, which is why I've made the noncommittal notation above regarding the cream measurement.
The crowned jewels, 12 large ripe figs
*I use Black Mission or Brown Turkey Figs. The Black Mission Figs are a bit sweeter and earthy. The flavor of Brown Turkey Figs is a bit more delicate.
Quarter the figs (or cut into 6 segments if they are very large) and arrange them on the tart in a circular pattern starting from the outside working your way towards the middle.
Above all else, Enjoy!