Provencal Fig Tart with Cognac Crème Anglaise and Caramel Sauce
Hearty country flavors are beautifully blended in this glistening rosy tart. Goat cheese, nutmeg, cinnamon, and Cognac combine wonderfully with the fresh figs. The crust, with its ground almonds, does not have to be weighted during baking, and can be used straight from the oven or cooled.
- Unsalted Butter - 1/2 pound, at room temperature
- Sugar - 1/2 cup
- Whole Egg - 1
- Almonds - 1/2 cup, toasted, finely ground (alt. walnuts)
- Flour - 3 cups
- Fresh Goat Cheese - 1/2 pound
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Flour - 3 tablespoons
- Sugar - 1/2 cup
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 1/4 cup
- Cognac - 1/4 cup
- Freshly grated nutmeg to taste
- Eggs - 3, separated
- Fresh Ripe Figs - 3 pints, preferably small
- Currant Jelly - 1 cup (alt. apricot jelly)
- Cognac - 2 tablespoons
- Cognac Crème Anglaise
- Milk - 2 cups
- Sugar - 1/4 cup
- Cinnamon Stick - 1
- Vanilla bean - 1
- Grated nutmeg to taste
- Egg Yolks - 5
- Cognac - 1/4 cup
- Caramel Sauce
- Sugar - 1 cup
- Water - 1/4 cup
- Unsalted Butter - 4 , at room temperature
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 1 cup, warmed
- Fresh mint leaves - 10 to 12, cut in fine julienne
- Ground cinnamon for dusting
- Confectioner’s sugar for dusting
- Fresh Figs - 8 or 10, cut in quarters
In the bowl of a mixer or food processor, cream together the butter and sugar, then add the egg. Add the almonds. Add the flour in 3 additions, processing just until the dough comes together. Remove from the machine, divide in half, and form into two balls. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Each ball of dough will line a 10- or 11-inch tart pan.
When the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 350 F. Roll out the dough 1/4-inch-thick on a lightly floured surface. Roll up around the rolling pin, transfer to a tart pan, and unroll across the pan. Press into the pan. Put in the freezer for 10 minutes, then bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. Remove from the oven, leaving the oven on if you are finishing the tart immediately.
To prepare the filling: Preheat the oven to 350 F if necessary. In the bowl of a processor, combine the cheese, zest, flour, and sugar. Process until smooth. Add the cream and Cognac; grate in the nutmeg. Process again until smooth, then add the egg yolks. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they stand in stiff peaks; do not allow them to become too dry. Fold the egg whites into the cheese mixture and pour the filling into the pre-baked tart shell. Grate additional nutmeg over the filling if desired. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the filling is set and the edges are golden.
Cut the figs in quarters and arrange over the baked tart in concentric circles. Begin at the outer edge and work toward the center, placing the cut figs on their backs so the interior shows. Pack the slices on tightly. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the currant jelly and thin with the additional Cognac. Brush over the figs to glaze. Set aside in the refrigerator.
To make the crème anglaise: Combine the milk, sugar, and cinnamon stick in a heavy saucepan. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the mixture, then drop in the pods. Bring the mixture to a boil, then set aside off the heat. Beat the egg yolks until light and lemon-colored. Slowly whisk some of the scalded milk mixture into the egg yolks to temper the yolks, then slowly pour the yolk mixture into the scalded milk mixture. Place over medium heat and whisk constantly until the mixture begins to thicken and coats the back of a spoon. Do not allow the mixture to boil; remove from the heat if it threatens. Strain the mixture through a fine-meshed sieve into a bowl set in a larger bowl of ice and stir until cooled. Stir in the Cognac. Press plastic wrap on the surface and refrigerate until needed.
To make the caramel sauce: Combine the sugar and water in a heavy saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook without stirring until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has turned a golden amber color. Whisk in the butter and warmed cream, guarding against spatters. The sauce may be served warm or at room temperature.
To serve: Place the crème anglaise and the caramel sauce in separate squeeze bottles. Sprinkle the rim of each plate lightly with cinnamon, then dust with confectioner’s sugar. Drizzle lines of crème anglaise in one direction on the plates, then cross them with a set of caramel sauce lines. Place a tart wedge in the center of each plate. Place four fig quarters around each tart slice. Sprinkle mint julienne around the edge of each plate.