Figs and almonds are a match made in heaven.
Not convinced? Let me show you.
Exhibit A: Say you like Fig Newtons. (Oh, come on, just pretend if you don't.) Now imagine a Fig Newton with an extra layer of marzipan inside. Alright? I got your attention, I hope.
Who still needs Exhibit B?
You might be convinced by now, but I would like to show you some fig and almond tartelettes just in case.
Last weekend, I got on the bus and headed to the Marché d'Aligre in the 12th arrondissement. Living in the 6th, I'm used to exorbitant fruit and vegetable prices, and was expecting pretty much the same at Aligre. I stepped off the bus...into another world.
A world of peaches, limes and heirloom tomatoes at under two euros a kilo. Heaven. (Well, also the result of this not being an actual farmer's market but rather a market where everything comes from Rungis, the "main market" on the outskirts of Paris.)
Which brings me back to figs--beautiful, dark purple and small. Just soft enough, with a deep, luscious taste. They were priced at a very reasonable two euros a kilo; I had no excuse not to buy them and get started on a tart. And really, does anyone ever need an excuse for figs and almonds? Please.
These individual tartelettes are a perfect way to showcase wonderfully in-season figs. Plus, if you've ever been a fan of crème frangipane--the traditional filling of almond and pastry cream for the galette des rois on Epiphany--this is for you.
As an optional but no less amazing extra, slather some salted buttered caramel on the bottom of the crust before adding the filling. It will add a hardly perceptible je ne sais quoi, and bring the "mmm" factor up a notch.
The pastry crust is the one used in the flan I wrote about last week, and once again a great pairing with the sweetness of the frangipane and figs.
If by now, you're not 100% sure that figs and almonds were made to be, then I'm lost. Unless...this might help?
Fig and Almond Tartelettes
makes two tartelettes
1/2 recipe for pastry crust
6 fresh figs, sliced vertically
1 TB salted butter caramel (optional)
50g / 1/2 c. almond flour
50g / 3.5 TB unsalted butter, room temperature
50g / 1/3 c. confectioner's sugar
1/2 TS cornstarch
1 drop bitter almond extract (or regular almond extract)
60g crème pâtissière
Note: This recipe will yield 125g, or twice the amount you need. I strongly recommend you don't halve the recipe, as making tiny quantities of crème pâtissière can get pretty tricky. Use the leftovers as a garnish for éclairs, or anything you want! I filled lebanese bread with crème pâtissiere and fresh figs, and it was delicious.
1/2 TS vanilla extract
8g / 2.5 TS cornstarch
20g / 5 TS granualted sugar
10cl / 1/3 c. + 1.5 TB milk, preferably whole
1 egg yolk
10g / 2 TS unsalted butter, room temperature
Make crème pâtissière. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, mix cornstarch, half of the sugar, and vanilla extract. Whisk in milk and bring to a boil.
In a small bowl, beat egg yolk and remaining sugar for a minute. Add a little of the hot milk and keep whisking.
Pour everything back into the saucepan and cook, whisking constantly. Remove from heat when the mixture begins to boil, and place saucepan in a larger pan or sink filled with cold water.
Once the cream has cooled to about 50°C / °F, add butter and whisk briskly.
Use pastry cream as soon as possible, and do not keep it more than 12 hours in the refrigerator.
Make crème frangipane. Cut butter into chunks and place into a medium bowl. Mix and soften with a spatula. Add, in this order, the confectioner's sugar, almond flour, cornstarch, eggs and almond extract, beating after each addition.
Add crème pâtissière and mix until well combined. Use immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Preheat oven to 180°C / 350°F.
Butter two tartelette pans and set aside. Roll out dough and pinch into tartelette pans. Make small holes on the bottom of the dough with a fork. If using, spread caramel on the bottom of the crust. Add filling. Place fig slices in a petal pattern on top of the cream.
Bake approximately 30 to 40 minutes, until crust is golden and frangipane is set. Cool for five minutes and gently remove tartelettes from pans. Let cool completely before serving.