This dessert is redolent with Mediterranean flavors. The hazelnut crust is filled with a mixture of figs, orange juice, Mascarpone cheese, and toasted hazelnuts. Dried figs may be substituted for the fresh figs; increase the amount of orange juice to 1/2 cup if you use dried figs.
- Hazelnut Crust
- Unbleached All-purpose flour - 1 cup
- Hazelnuts - 1/2 cup (2-1/2 ounces), toasted, peeled, and finely chopped
- Granulated Sugar - 2 tablespoons
- Salt - 1/4 teaspoon
- Cold Unsalted butter - 1/2 cup (1 stick), cut into small pieces
- Fig Filling
- Kalamata Figs - 8 ounces, stemmed and cut into quarters
- Blood Orange - grated or minced zest and juice of 1 blood orange or regular orange
- Eggs - 3, large
- Egg Yolk - 1
- Flour - 1 tablespoon
- Mascarpone cheese - 3/4 cup, at room temperature
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Granulated Sugar - 1/2 cup
- Pinch of salt
- Hazelnuts - 1/2 cup (2-1/2 ounces), toasted, peeled, and coarsely chopped
- Optional Garnishes
- Sifted confectioner’s sugar
- Apricot Jam - 1/3 cup
- Water - 1/4 cup
To make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 F. In a food processor, combine the flour, hazelnuts, sugar, and salt. Process the dry mixture to combine, then add the butter and again process until the mixture comes together. Or, to make the dough by hand, in a medium bowl, combine the flour, hazelnuts, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and, using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse corn meal. (Because there is no water added to this crust, it takes longer to blend the ingredients.) Remove the dough from the processor or bowl and pull it together by hand; wear plastic gloves to keep it from sticking to your hands.
Press the dough into a 9-inch springform pan. The dough should cover the bottom of the pan and come up about 1 inch on the sides. Place the pan in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm up the dough. Bake the dough for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and press the dough down again. Reduce the temperature to 325 F and return the crust to the oven for another 10 minutes, or until crisp. Let cool.
To make the filling: Place the figs in a small saucepan and add the zest and juice. Cover, place over medium heat, and cook for 8 to 12 minutes, or until the figs have absorbed the juice. Let cool.
Preheat the oven to 400 F. In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, egg yolk, flour, cheese, lemon juice, sugar, and salt and whisk the mixture together until the sugar dissolves. Arrange the cooled figs over the top of the crust. Sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts over the figs, then pour in the cheese mixture. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 F and continue to bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the custard is set. Let cool.
To serve: Dust the tart with confectioner’s sugar. Or, place the apricot jam in a saucepan with the water and melt the jam over low heat. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve and brush as a glaze over the tart.