Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ricotta & Fig Tart

Late summer fruits are still sold in the grocery stores. Red big raspberries and strawberries, each kind tucked in the quart and pint containers, reminded me how fun this summer was for me and my family. Despite the over abundance of apples and pomegranates in autumn, summer fruits colors and varieties are still the best when used in baking. And there is one particular fruit that is less use nor seen in many of the cookbooks which is lovely eaten on itself and beautiful as garnish on any tarts or cakes. The figs I see comes in 2 types, one called Black Mission with dark purplish skin and deep colored flesh and the other called Calimyrna with light greenish skin and light pinkish flesh, both sweet and loaded with seeds. I usually buy the dried figs, which has high fiber and laxative effect on the digestive system. Some people don't like figs for the reason that it is too loaded with seeds and doesn't taste smooth in the mouth. I like it very much for its sweetness and extremely juicy when they are in season.

Most of the recipes I see on the internet uses fresh figs on fresh cream cheese desserts and I wanted to try a baked cheese tart with it instead. I have made different cheesecakes before but never attempted a cheese tart, that has a crunch tart base and containing a plain baked cheesecake inside it. And for this recipe, I used Ricotta cheese, which has a more grainy texture than the usual cream cheese but less in fat content. For more structure, I added 1 tbsp of all purpose flour to the cheese mixture as I didn't like the idea of a pudding like cheese filling in a solid tart case. Instead of the usual vanilla, I infused the cream cheese with lavendar, which exudes a slight flowery spice aroma. Instead of glazing the figs with syrup or jam, I opted for powdered sugar as I wasn't sure if the juice of the figs together with the sugar glaze might weigh down the fruit and soak the cream cheese filling on the bottom.

The taste of Ricotta was surprisingly very good despite the less fat content. To my tastebuds, it actually tasted like smooth firm tofu more than cheese. Of course the addition of enough sugar is important here as the cream cheese taste is very mild and the sweet taste of sugar complements with the firmer texture of the Ricotta cheese. The tart shell was blindbaked for 10 mins at 375F before taking in the cheese and egg filling. The whole tart was then baked again at a lower temperature of 350F for 55 mins. This cheese tart is best served at room temperature and can be reheated the day after. The fruit topping is only to be added on the day of eating. I almost felt so sad having to cut this perfect rectangle shaped tart into pieces! The tart is a prequel to the Thanksgiving and X'mas bakings that I have in mind and I am making my list of cookies and cakes to bake already. Have you? Happy Baking everyone.


Tart Shell (for 1 rectangle tart (available at Williams Sonoma) or 8 inch round Tart)
300g All Purpose Flour
180g Cold Butter, cut into smaller pieces
1 large egg
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt

1)Stir the flour together with the sugar and salt. Place this mixture into a food processor.
2)Scatter the butter pieces all over and start to pulse with intervals for 30 seconds.
3)Beat the egg lightly in a separate bowl and pour over into the butter and flour mixture.
4)Pulse in a continuous motion for 15 seconds to mix and obtain a soft dough, resembling cookie dough. If the dough doesn't come altogether and appear slightly dry, add 1 tbsp cold water and pulse and mix for another 10 seconds.
5)Remove the dough and shape into a ball, wrap up with cling film and place in refrigerator to rest for 1 hour.
6)Remove from fridge, grease the tart pan with removable bottom all over. Roll out the dough to fill the tart pan. (Trick: Do not roll out too thin as the tart will shrink slightly during blind baking, emphasize a little bit more thickness on the rims and use the method tucking in the sides with your fingers and NOT roll over with the rolling pin to cut the excess).  Take time to tuck in the sides and rim and leave about 1/4 inch of overhanging dough over the jagged rim of the pan. Using your fingers, pat down the 1/4 inch on top of the rim to form a thicker rim top of the tart. I find this method very effective in preventing too much shrinking during the blind baking of the tart.
7)Prick the bottom of the tart shell and return to refrigerator for another 20 mins. Preheat the oven to 375F.
8)Bake the tart shell for 10 mins. Remove from the oven and lower the oven to 350F. Proceed to prepare the filling.

Ricotta & Fig Filling
450g Part Skim Ricotta Cheese
140g Sugar
3 large eggs
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 tsp lavendar (or vanilla)
10 to 15 Black Mission or Calmyrna Figs (Sliced thickly, 1 fig will yield 3 to 4 slices)
10 raspberries and mint leaves to garnish
1 tbsp powdered sugar

1)Beat the Ricotta till creamy. Add in the sugar and beat to combine.
2)Beat in the eggs, one at a time, till well combined.
3)Sprinkle in the flour and the lavendar/vanilla and fold to combine.
4)Pour this filling into the partly baked tart shell, smoothing out with a spatula.
5)Bake at 350F on the middle rack for 55 to 60 mins till the filling is brown and set. The filling will look puffed up but once cooled outside the oven, it will deflate slightly. Remove from the oven and let it cool to room temperature.
6)Line and stack the fig slices to form a fan effect. Slot in the raspberries and mint leaves randomly and use a small sifter, sprinkle in the powdered sugar.

Serves : 4 to 6 person

1 comment:

mimi said...

I could do with a hand
Kiss mimi