Fig season begins in late summer and ends in early autumn. It’s a brief season, but fig trees are prolific producers and you’re likely to find an abundance of them at the farmers market or in your local grocery store. And, once you’ve eaten your fill of fresh figs, take the time to make yourself a fig tart. It’s worth it.
While you can roast figs or bake them in a tart, I like them fresh – nestled on top of a honey-sweet yogurt filling and a shortbread cookie crust that’s flavored with orange zest and rosemary. And while it looks daunting, it’s actually a pretty simple recipe to prepare.
What’s in the tart?
There’s three components to this Fig Tart: the shortbread crust, the yogurt filling and the fresh fig topping. And, together, the make a simple, nourishing and flavor-forward summer dessert.
This fig tart starts with a thick, crumbly shortbread cookie crust. You can make it from einkorn flour, an ancient variety of wheat, which has a soft texture and rich flavor that works really well for pastries and cookies. A touch of orange zest and finely chopped rosemary works well here, but you can skip it, too, and the crust won’t suffer for its loss.
You’ll fill the tart with a mascarpone and yogurt that you’ve sweetened with just a little bit of honey. The key is to whip it to an ethereal lightness which you can do by hand, or in a stand mixer. And a touch of gelatin will help set the filling so it stands on its own and is easy to slice and serve.
Finally, top it with fresh figs and slivered almonds. You can slice the figs in rounds and lay them on top of the tart, but I prefer to quarter them.
Tips for Making This Fig Tart
- Allow plenty of time for your filling to set. That means at least 4 hours in the fridge, although overnight is better.
- Press the tart dough into the pan instead of rolling it out. It’s a sticky dough that gives you a wonderful crust similar to shortbread, but rolling it out is a chore.
- Line the pan with parchment paper. It’ll make it easier to unmold the tart, with less breakage and cracking.
- Wait for the crust to cool completely before you fill the tart. A hot crust will melt your filling into a pool of liquid.
- Toss it in the freezer if you’re pressed for time. It’ll set in about 2 hours in the freezer.
- You can use Greek yogurt, raw milk yogurt or just about any (plain!) yogurt you like. And your tart will come out fine.
- Mission figs, Calimyrna figs, Turkey figs and any other variety work well. Use whatever is ripest and looks the best.
Fig Tart Recipe
For the Crust
- 8-inch springform pan
- Parchment Paper
- Stand Mixer
Make the crust.
- Line a springform pan with parchment paper.
- Combine all the ingredients for the tart crust, except the water, into a food processor and process until it forms the texture of cornmeal. Pour the water into the feeder tube, and continue processing until it forms a ball.
- Spoon the dough into the pan and then prick it all over with the tines of a fork. Set the tart shell into the freezer to chill about 20 minutes, and then heat the oven to 350 F.
- After about 20 minutes, blind bake the tart shell. Allow it to cool completely while you prepare the filling.
Make the tart.
- Spoon the gelatin into a small bowl, and cover it with water. Allow it to bloom while you prepare the other ingredients – 5 to 10 minutes.
- Warm the cream in a saucepan on the oven until steaming, and then stir in the gelatin mixture until fully dissolved.
- Spoon the gelatin and cream mixture, mascarpone cheese, yogurt and honey into a stand mixer. Whip with the whisk attachment until lightened and airy.
- Pour the filling into the springform pan over the tart crust, and then set in the fridge at least 4 hours and up to overnight to set.
- Very gently unmold the tart, and then arrange the figs and sliced almonds on top. Serve immediately.
If anything, this tart is versatile. Accordingly, you can switch and swap just about any ingredient (or maybe even a few) and find that your results taste just fine.
So if you’re dairy-free and need to drop the yogurt and mascarpone, there’s an option for you. If you’re gluten-free, there’s an option for you. If you’re not keen on honey, you can use another sweetener, and if you don’t have a bottle of orange flower water or sprigs of rosemary in your kitchen, you can always swap it for something you like even better.
Skip the orange zest, rosemary and orange flower water, and flavor the custard with vanilla extract instead.
Try flavoring the crust with a little powdered ginger, and topping the fig tart with candied ginger, too.
You can use coconut yogurt and coconut cream in place of yogurt and mascarpone cream.
If you’re on a gluten- or grain-free diet, you can make a simple crust from dates and nuts.
Try using maple syrup or maple sugar instead of honey, because maple pairs beautifully with figs. You can even swirl a spoonful of bourbon into the custard, too.
You can roast the figs in the oven for a richer, more complex flavor. But make sure to cool them completely before topping the tart, or your filling will melt.
In wintertime, try topping the tart with vanilla-infused fig preserves.
If you can’t find figs, you can always top the tart with other fruit like clementines in winter or fresh berries during spring and summer.