I found a recipe in one of my cook books that I had been wanting to try for some time. It was a honey and pine nut tart and I thought it would be a great way to utilize local ingredients. We buy raw honey from a vendor at our local farmer’s market that has a great flavor. It is from the tamarisk or salt cedar tree and has a very full bodied flavor that I have been dying to try in this desert. Additionally, pinones (pine nuts) are gathered here in New Mexico off the local pinon trees and can be found on road-side stands everywhere.
Lastly, the addition of the figs to the recipe was inspired by the weekly Blogger’s Secret Ingredient. Sadly I was unable to get this posted by the deadline, but I figured I’d go ahead and make the tart anyway given that I was hosting a dinner party and didn’t want to waste all those delicious figs.
So here is the recipe!
Fig, honey and pine nut tart
The first step in this tart is making the crust. You can use any tart crust you’d like, although I would recommend a sweetened dough. I used an old standby from The Joy, slightly modified. The recipe is below:
1 1/4 c all purpose flour
1/3 c sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 unsalted butter
1 lrg egg yolk
1 1/2 TBSP heavy cream
Whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl and using a pastry blender, blend the butter into the dry ingredients until you have a large crumb. Add the egg yolk and the heavy cream and mix until it barely comes together. Pour the dough into your tart pan or pie dish and, using your fingers, spread it evenly around the pan creating a crust. Poke some holes in the crust with a fork, then line with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights or dry beans. Bake the crust at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Set aside until you are ready to fill.
For the filling:
1 lb figs, quartered
1/2 c roasted pinon nuts*
1/2 c raw honey
4 TBSP butter
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 tsp lemon zest
1 TBSP lemon juice
*I use raw pine nuts that I have toasted in my oven. To do this place the nuts on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for about 3 minutes.Prepare the figs and set them aside. You do not have to remove fig skin! Simply remove the stem and then cut into quarters. Line the blind baked crust with the roasted pine nuts then arrange the fig quarters on top of them. Set this aside while you work on the honey custard.
In a sauce pan, combine the honey and butter and heat over low until the butter starts to melt and the honey softens and begins to get runny. While you are waiting, whisk the three eggs together a few times in a non-reactive bowl. Once the honey and butter are warm, stir a few times to combine then add the vanilla and almond extracts as well as the lemon juice and the lemon zest.
Here is the only tricky part of the process. You want to add the warm honey mixture to the eggs, but you don’t want to cook the eggs in the process. You can let the honey cool a bit, but let it sit too long and it will start to firm up again, which you also don’t want! The best way to solve this problem is to add the honey very slowly while you continuously mix the eggs. Similar to making a hollandaise sauce or a mayonnaise emulsion. It also helps if you drizzle it in from a height of about six – 12 inches. This allows the mixture to cool a bit before it hits the eggs.
Once you have combined the honey with the eggs, pour the mixture over the figs and pine nuts. Bake at 350 for about 40-45 minutes until the custard sets.
Serve with mascarpone cheese or creme fresh. The rich fat of these two dairy products will compliment the sweetness of the tart and it will be melt in your mouth good.