My Italian grandparents had the most impressive fruit and vegetable garden, and on their property were the most amazingly luscious fig trees. I used to think it was very old school Italian to have a fig tree, but now as an adult, I really want one and I always look for new and inventive ways to cook and bake with figs. So, this spicy, rich dessert is a tribute to my Gram and Gramps. With a modest budget, they still managed to make life "spicy and rich" and I feel fortunate to carry on their legacy of the fig. This tart is thick and silky smooth with just the right amount of salty-sweet crunch from the crust. You will fall in love with this tart at first bite! - Cathi Iannone —Cathi Iannone
Test Kitchen Notes
A playful mingling of sweet, spicy, and savory best describes this rich dessert. When crafting this rustic tart, I adjusted the amounts of spice and espresso, as I found the smaller amounts provided enough complexity to the depth of the fresh fig puree -- so taste it as you go. What worked best about this dish was the texture and saltiness of the walnut pretzel crust, which provided a light enough foundation to contrast the heaviness of the filling. The chocolate and cream smoothes out the texture while adding a lovely, dark, deep canvas against which the fig firmly stands. This dessert plates very elegantly and would make an impressive, unexpected dessert for guests. —goldenblind221
bittersweet chocolate bits
mission figs (stems removed and pulsed in food processor to form a thick paste)
large eggs (beaten, room temperature)
of espresso (finely ground)
extra-fine sea salt
1 1/2 cups
mini pretzels (pulsed to large crumbs in food processor)
Almonds(pulsed to large crumbs in food processor)
Pulse pretzels and Almonds in a food processor and transfer to a medium bowl.
Melt 5 tablespoons of unsalted butter in microwave and add the melted butter along with the sugar to the pretzel-almonds crumbs, and stir with a fork to incorporate.
Press the pretzel-almond crumb mixture into either a 9 inch tart tin or 6 small individual tart dishes. You can use the bottom of a glass to press the crumbs firmly to the bottom and a half inch up the sides.
Bake the crust for 10-12 minutes and remove from the oven to cool while you make your filling.
Turn oven down to 325 degrees.
In a medium saucepan, heat the heavy cream and the milk until it simmers.
Once it simmers, remove from heat and stir in the chocolate bits, along with the coffee granules, cinnamon, and salt.
Stir to incorporate and until the chocolate mixture is smooth.
Stir in the fig paste and continue to stir until the fig has loosened up and is fully incorporated with little or, no lumps.
Add the beaten eggs to the mixture and stir to fully incorporate.
Fill your tart pan, or individual dishes with the filling mixture. Bake the tart(s) for 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven. If the tart(s) begin to show signs of bubbles or cracks on top, quickly remove them from the oven, as this is a sign of an over- cooked tart. The top of the tart should have a beautiful glossy finish.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 15-20 minutes. Serve warm from the oven, or chilled.
Optional: Garnish with whipped cream and additional fig halves.