I’m so torn during this last half of the summer. The produce has really come into season and my eyes entice me into buying more than I could possibly consume. I experience an existential criss toward the end of every summer, wanting to savor all that is good about the season: the sun, heat, fruit and vegetable bounty, shorts and dresses, air dried hair… I want to encapsulate it somehow and keep it by my bedside to take in small doses as a remedy for my winter blues. I’m a warm weather girl through and through and I look forward to the season with more fervor than a separated child seeks their mother in a crowd.
I LOVE to garden, and cannot wait for the opportunity to tend to a productive, fruitful garden of my own. I’ve planted flowers and shrubs, sure, but I’ve never nursed a zucchini plant to produce a ripe fruit, or plucked tomatoes from a vine in my back yard. I daydream about the greenhouse I’ll build from scrap and how I’ll cherish living off my own land (ha!). I ponder over opening a restaurant one day, or merely sharing the joy that is creating a delectable meal with your own two hands, even if it does involve commercial grocery goods. That sensation of self-sufficiency and independence can’t be beat in my book.
Moving on to this pie. We bought a little fig tree last year, but, silly me, I put it out too early this spring and it froze. Thankfully, it has since recovered but will not bear fruit this year. Figs are a rare site in this portion of the country, showing up for a few short weeks in August. They spoil so quickly that I can’t buy many at a time, but the ones I do purchase I treasure to the point of watching them go bad before eating them in one bite. I usually opt to consume them on their own, with no interference from other ingredients. I tossed two in a salad today and I feel like a changed person. Their sweetness was so potent and their color so saturated that my salad resembled a dessert both in taste and appearance. I think one is as much as I can handle in one sitting, and even then it might be best paired with a more substantial ingredient, like a tahini dressing or a chopped boiled egg.
While a chopped fig, plum, or the two combined would be indulgent enough to satiate my sweet tooth, my aim with Perpetual Projecting was to push myself in the kitchen. So I made this tart. It really is the ideal accompaniment to perfectly ripe fruit, just dense and creamy enough to balance its naturally occurring teammates. It’s wonderfully simple to prepare and even easier to eat, with a wedge standing up to being held and bit into like a slice of cold pizza. (I hope you’re a fan of cold pizza and that visual doesn’t ruin this recipe for you.) No tricks or gimmicks here, and I won’t keep you by overcomplicating steps. You can go wild with fruit on top should you desire, but I might counsel you to double the batter portion if this is your aim. Happy Summer, friends.
Fig Plum Tart
- 1.25 cups almond meal, divided
- 3 eggs
- 1/8 t salt
- 2 T olive oil or oil of choice
- 1.25 t almond extract, divided
- 1 t vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup cream cheese (I used almond)
- 1 T maple syrup (optional)
- 1 plum, sliced
- 1 fig, sliced
- 1 tsp mint, crushed and chopped
- 1/2 tsp honey
- pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground anise seed (optional)
- Preheat oven to 425F.
- Prepare the tart: Combine 1 cup almond meal, 1 egg, the salt, and olive oil in a bowl. Mix until combined.
- Grease an 8″ pie pan and press the dough into the surface to form a shell.
- Bake the pie shell for 10 minutes, or until lightly golden. Set aside.
- Assemble the pie filling: Combine 2 eggs, 1 tsp almond extract, vanilla extract, cream cheese, and maple syrup (if using) in a small mixing bowl. Whisk until combined.
- Add remaining 1/4 cup almond meal and stir to incorporate. Pour batter into the pie shell.
- Make a sweet dressing for the fruit by combining the mint, honey, 1/4 tsp almond extract, and 1 T hot water in a small bowl. Stir until the honey has dissolved.
- Thinly slice the plum and fig into a mixing bowl, then pour the honey dressing over top. Gently toss to coat.
- Lay the slices of fruit over the top of the pie however you desire. Garnish with a pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground anise seed if desired.
- Bake the pie at 425F for 16-20 minutes, or until firm to the touch and golden brown. Serve immediately either alone or with ice cream or whipped cream, or store in the fridge for up to two days.