Fig Brown Butter Almond Frangipani Tarts
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 6 small tarts
200g soft plain flour
140g unsalted butter, cold and thinly sliced
15g caster sugar
5g fine sea salt
60g iced water
140g unsalted butter, squidgy (optional 15g extra for the finish)
120g caster sugar, (optional extra for the finish)
100g egg (approx. 2 large eggs), room temperature
190g blanched almond meal
5g vanilla paste
2g fine sea salt
20g dark rum
A strict drop of almond essence
300g fresh figs, approx. 8 - 10 small figs
Approx. 100g flaked almonds for sprinkling
Make the crust by rubbing the butter slices into the flour and salt until they are small flakes and the flour is taking on a yellow hue. Toss the water in to form a shaggy dough. Tip it out onto the work surface and smear across the bench a few times. Add a sprinkle of extra water if needed. Bring together and squeeze into a flat disc lightly wrapped in plastic. Chill in the fridge if it’s sticky. If it’s cool and pliable, roll on a lightly floured surface, cut circles and line 8 individual tart tins. Reroll once if needed. Keep chilled.
Start the frangipane by cooking half (70g) of the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until it turns a foamy tan brown. Scrape it into the bowl of an electric stand mixer to cool for 15 minutes.
Heat a fan-forced oven to 170ºC and place a heavy baking sheet on the middle shelf. The hot tray will accelerate the base cooking so soggy bottoms are avoided.
Add the remaining butter and sugar with the browned butter to the bowl of an electric stand mixer. With the paddle attachment, beat the ingredients on medium for about 8 minutes until the mix is pale and fluffy. Scrape the bowl down with a stiff plastic spatula twice during this.
Add the eggs in two additions, allowing the creamed base to re-fluff up between additions. If the creamed mixture separates from the temperature difference of too fast egg addition, just keep going, it will be dense but still delicious.
While the base mix is beating, prepare the figs by just nicking the stem off, retaining that ridiculously good-looking elongated point. Depending on their size, cut them into quarters or sixths and set them aside. Weigh the almond meal and salt, and set aside.
Stop the mixer and scrape the mix off the paddle attachment. We are working by hand and using a stiff plastic spatula now. Add the rum, vanilla and almond essence and mix well. Tip in the almond meal and salt and stir thoroughly.
Spoon the frangipane mix between the chilled tart shells and smooth the tops with an offset spatula. Start placing the figs across the top to almost cover the frangipane. Leave a few spaces and in those spaces, place a pinch of the flaked almonds, and push them in a little.
Optional - Melt the reserved 15g butter and then drizzle it over the fruit and nuts, and sprinkle over a little extra caster sugar too. The sugar and butter helps to add a fetching deeper colour to the extremities of the baked raw fruit and a little overall gloss. If using a cooked fruit like pear or quince, omit this as the poached fruit is sweet and glossy already.
Carefully bring the hot tray out of the oven and place the tarts on. Return the tray to the oven and bake for approximately 40-45 minutes.
The tart is baked when you lift up a centre fig to check the texture underneath – it should look like a baked cake, not liquid batter – a hint of gooeyness is okay. With a thermometer, 95ºC is a perfect internal temperature.
Cool for 30 minutes before unmoulding and that first wonderful bite.