I tend to make the most of sweet figs when they are in season as they seem to disappear faster than the strawberries. One morning I wake up and there aren’t any boxes of sweet figs left and that’s when the best ideas come to me, which is so disheartening. So this year I decided that I wouldn’t wait and featured two startlingly good fig recipes that you’ll want to make for many many years to come.
The first is according to me the best fig tart in the world. This is in part because of the components that go into the tart. The pastry is my sure-shot all-butter shell, and if you navigate the blog enough, you’ll find that this is the recipe I turn to the most. Over that goes a blue cheese, feta and cream cheese mousse with roasted garlic. Then there’s caramelised onions over that and finally, a layer of figs. I’m sure you’re sold on this by now. It’s like a cheeseboard married a tart.
Recipe number two is for a fig leaf and vanilla bean ice cream that just happens to have fresh figs churned into the ice cream. The fig leaves have a lovely, mellow sweet coconut flavour to them, which is infused in the milk before I churn, making this a divine tropical number that’s great in winters, as well as summer (if you’re lucky enough to find figs and fig leaves). The leaves that come in the fig boxes work just fine here.
The Best Fig Tart
Yield makes 1 tart that can serve 4 people with a salad on the side
This fig tart has roasted garlic, caramelised onions and a blue cheese and feta mousse. It’s delicious AF.
Garlic 1 a bit of the top sliced off to expose the cloves
Olive oil 6 tbsp
Figs 6, trimmed and halved
Onions 2 large, sliced
Egg whites 1
For The Mousse
Blue cheese 75g (I used a Danish blue)
Feta cheese 45g
Cream cheese 60g
Greek yoghurt 50g
For The Tart shell (makes 2 x 9-inch single crust round tarts)
Flour 226g, plus more for flouring the surface
Sugar 1 tbsp
Salt 3/4 tsp
Salted Butter 226g, fridge cold, cut into cubes
Ice-Cold water 120ml
I recommend working in an air-conditioned room with pastry especially during the high summers. Keep a wide work surface ready in the air conditioned room and use an ice pack on the surface that you’ll be rolling out your pastry on.
Rub the fridge-cold butter into the flour and salt using your fingers till everything starts to look mealy. Start adding the cold water to the dough bit by bit till it forms a ball using a bear claw hand to stir everything. Once it comes together as a ball, knead it very lightly once or twice, then wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
In the meantime, take a piece of aluminium foil and line a small baking sheet. Place the garlic head with its exposed cloves on the lined baking sheet and pour over 3 tbsp of olive oil over the garlic head and place in the oven preheated to 200 degrees celsius to roast nicely for 30-40 minutes or until the cloves are a golden brown.
While the garlic is browning, heat the remaining olive oil in a pan and when it’s hot, add the onions and turn the heat down to low and begin caramelising the onions slowly. You want to stir the onions every now and then until the onions are well caramelised and a dark rich brown colour. Ensure that you don’t let the onions stick and burn.
Slip the garlic out of its skin. This should be quite easy to do once the garlic is golden brown. If it isn’t, it means it needs a bit more time in the oven. 10-12 more minutes should do it.
Mash the roasted garlic head with the back of a fork and add it to a bowl with the rest of the ingredients of the mousse and whip either by hand or using electric beaters until all the cheeses and yoghurt are well combined. Taste for salt and adjust, remembering that feta cheese is salty too, so you may not have to add much.
The onions ought to have caramelised nicely by now, so make sure to transfer that to a bowl and clingfilm until needed.
Divide the dough into two after 30 minutes and shape both into circles. Flatten both into discs and transfer one disc back to the freezer and continue with the other disc. If it's not chilled anymore as you do this, chill in the refrigerator or freezer for 15-30 more minutes and continue.
Transfer the one disc of dough to the now-lightly floured cold surface after its 30 minutes of resting time, and roll the dough out with a pin to a 12 to 13-inch rough circle. Mine always looks quite warped, but as long as it’s of even thickness throughout, you’re good. You could do this between two sheets of clingfilm too if you like, which makes it easy to transfer the pastry, but I’ve stopped doing it now.
Flip the rolled out pastry over a baking sheet and leaving 1/2-inch of space from every end, apply the mousse liberally over the pastry. Sprinkle over the caramelised onions to disperse them throughout the pastry and place the figs on top. Fold the overhang pastry inwards and onto the figs to close the pastry and form a galette. Whisk the egg whites lightly and brush it on the tops of the galette.
Transfer the baking sheet to the oven preheated to 200 degrees celsius and bake for 30 minutes or until the tart is golden brown. Let it cool for a few minutes before slicing in. The tart is best enjoyed still warm and oozy.
Fig Leaf and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Yield 1/2 litre
This ice cream is made in an ice cream churner, but if you want to make a no-churn version, just make the custard and freeze it, I’ve included instructions at the end of this post. Keep in mind though that a no-churn ice cream will never be as delightfully light as a churned ice cream.
Cream 200g (use a cream like Amul’s with 25% fat or Amul Whipping Cream with 30% fat, in which case you’re going to have to reduce the sugar in the recipe)
Milk 150g (use a milk like Amul Gold with 4.5% fat)
Corn Syrup 25g (2 tablespoons)
Sugar 75g (1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tbsp)
Vanilla bean paste 1/2 tsp (from Urban Platter)
Egg Yolks 50g (from 3 eggs)
A pinch of salt
Cornflour 5g (1/2 tablespoon), mixed with 1 tablespoon (10g) cold milk to form a slurry
Figs 4, finely chopped
Begin by infusing the fig leaf in the milk. You want to leave to bring the milk up to a boil, then add the fig leaves and turn the heat down to very low with the lid on. Let this infuse for 12-15 minutes before taking it off the heat and letting it cool. Once it is completely cool, strain the fig leaves out of the milk.
In a saucepan, heat the cream, the fig leaf flavoured milk, corn syrup, sugar, salt and vanilla bean paste over medium heat stirring it every now and then to stop the milk from catching at the base. Bring this mixture up to an almost-boil, then take it off the heat.
Whisk the egg yolks together and keep your cornstarch and cold milk slurry ready on the side.
Splash in a bit off the hot milk mixture, whisking it into the egg yolk mixture to temper it. Add this egg yolk mixture back to the pan with the milk ad cream and whisk to combine.
Transfer the pan back to the hob over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon till the custard thinly coats the back of the spoon. Quickly add in the cornstarch and cold milk slurry, stirring everything together for 60 seconds exactly before taking the pan off the heat and straining the mixture into a bowl.
Let the custard cool to room temperature. Alternately you can chill it in an ice bath. Once the custard has come to room temperature, transfer the bowl to the refrigerator to chill overnight covered with clingfilm.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to churn the ice cream with the fig pieces inside the custard the next day. In the case of the KitchenIf Ice Cream Maker, the canister must be freezing cold and the liquid coolant inside must be solid, i.e. if you shake it, you should not be able to hear the coolant move around. Also, the mixture should be very cold, preferably chilled overnight in the refrigerator and transferred to the freezer for a final hour before churning. Churn the ice cream with the fig pieces ideally for 20 minutes, or until the beater is slower than before, the mixture is lusciously thick and reminds you of a soft serve ice cream.
Transfer the ice cream to a metal mould—I find that the smaller loaf cake tins work well for 1/2 litre ice creams and bigger ones for double the quantity. Clingfilm the ice cream pressing it onto the surface and freeze the ice creams for anything between 4 to 8 hours depending on how quickly your freezer will set the ice cream. Serve.
NOTE: For no-churn instructions, infuse 300ml double cream (I use the one from ABC Farms, Pune, available with boutique owners like Fruitique) instead of the milk on very low-heat for 15-20 minutes. Strain the fig leaves out of the cream, then cool and chill again until the double cream is cold enough to whip. Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks, then fold it with the 125g condensed milk in parts and add the vanilla bean paste. Fold in the chopped figs carefully and transfer to a container to freeze for 4-6 hours, or until solidified.