Friday, April 23, 2010

Fig "Pop-Tarts"


Do you want to know something crazy? When I was little, I didn't know that figs were a kind of fruit. For some reason, I thought the "fig" in Fig Newton was part of a proper or brand name like Isaac Newton. I seriously thought that the stuff inside a Fig Newton was some kind of processed jam composite that Nabisco had invented. I should note that when I was five, I also thought that Han Solo was Luke Skywalker's father, so I guess I wasn't always big on details.

Now that I have discovered the fabulousness that is figs, I am catching up with a vengeance. Figs are such a gift to the kitchen (and the cook). They are so versatile. Figs can go sweet or savory at the cook's whim. My favorite way to eat them is combined with salty or tangy flavors and watch the wave of taste sensations ensue. For example, they make a great late night study-break snack. Cut some dried figs in half, put a crumble of blue cheese on top and lightly warm the fig halves in the toaster oven (or zap in the microwave). Pop them into your mouth while they are warm. This little snack also makes a good hors d'oeuvre, if you can stand to share them.

For this adventure, I decided to try for the sweet, rather than savory. These tarts are my first attempt at cooking with figs in a straight up desserty way. The tarts came out wonderfully; they were flaky and buttery, with scrumptious, gooey fig centers. The recipe itself is pretty easy. (Note to self: I still need to work on rolling out and transferring dough). You can use whatever kind of preserves or thick jam you like, as long as it has some chunks to it. If you're planning to bring these tarts anywhere, be sure to note that the dough needs to chill and the prepared tarts need to freeze before baking.

Fig "Pop-Tarts"
(Adapted from this Bon Appetit recipe)

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour, plus additional for shaping and rolling
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 tablespoons ice water
8-12 tablespoons fig jam
powdered sugar

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter. Mix in butter until the ingreditents resemble coarse crumbs. I find using my fingers works best. Add ice water a couple of tablespoons as at time, mixing until moist clumps form. Divide the dough in half, shaping each half into a disk, and wrap in plastic. Chill at least 1 hour.

Line two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, with a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out dough. The original recipe recommends 13x11-inches, but I am not that good at rolling out dough. As long as you can divide your dough evenly into same-sized rectangles, you should be fine. I rolled each disk out to about six rectangles, about 9x8-inches.

Arrange 3 rectangles on each sheet. Spoon 1 or 2 tablespoons of preserves or jam down the center of each triangle. Top with another dough rectangle. Using a fork press down all the edges of each tart to seal (and make look pretty). Using a fork, poke a few holes in the center of the tart. Repeat with the second disk of dough. Freeze tarts for at least 2 hours before baking.

Position oven racks in top and bottom thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake frozen tarts for 25-30 minutes, reversing baking sheets after 15 minutes. Remove tarts form sheets and cool on a cooling rack. Put a kitchen towel or paper towels under rack, optional, but helpful for clean up. Sift powdered sugar over tarts.

1 comment:

Michael said...

Sounds and looks great. I would be tempted to skip the jam, get some fresh figs and just scoop it onto the dough.