Fig and Custard Tart

I have the little fig tree that could growing in our backyard.  This place we moved into had been left in disrepair and the yard was buried under 6 foot tall weeds and dry brush.  My son Phillip and my roommate David took turns with the weed whacker and one day, we found a fig tree.  It was small, literally buried under weeds, bone dry and yet it was brimming with little green figs.  My heart stopped.  I LOVE figs.

Growing up, whenever we’d go to my Tia Luz’ house she’d have peaches and figs fresh from her trees and they were always so delicious.  Like eating warm candy when you picked them from the tree.  She’d always send my grandmother over baskets full of delicious black mission figs and whenever they’d show up, I’d be jumping up and down dying to get one into my mouth.

We weeded around the little tree, watered it faithfully and it astounded us with it’s bounty.  At first, it was giving about a pound a day which disappeared as soon as we’d pick them.  The following week it was giving about two pounds a day and I made jam.  Just the other day, I went out and picked at least ten pounds.  I sent five of those pounds to a friend in Chicago and we’re still brimming with figs.  More jam is planned.  I want to try a fig marmalade with lemon rind.  The grandkids were here and I felt like making pastry, so I thought, “why not a tart?”

My recipes called for custard with the tart but I wanted something lighter and then I found a Greek-based custard recipe here with one of my fellow Foodbuzz Featured Publishers.  It was almost what I wanted, but of course I changed it.  I can’t help myself.  Can never leave a recipe alone.

I used Julia Child’s perfect pie crust recipe because it’s my favorite flaky pie dough and is uber simple.  I didn’t use honey for the custard, I used a syrupy balsamic with agua de azahares (orange flower water) and tangerine zest.  I loved the tart but the next time I make it, I’ll slice the figs thinner like I would for a French Apple Tart.  I halved these and while it was good and everyone loved it, it was a little much.

Custard (adapted from Gastronomer’s Guide)

2 pounds ripe black Mission Figs, sliced
16 ounces of plain Greek yogurt
3 eggs
1/4 cup sugar plus 2 tablespoons
3 tablespoons balsamic cream plus more to drizzle on figs
Zest of two tangerines or oranges
1 tsp. Orange flower water

Mix together the yogurt, eggs and 1/4 cup of the sugar till well blended.  Add the balsamic creme, tangerine zest and orange flower water and mix.  If the mixture seems runny, don’t worry it will set just fine.

Pour the mixture into a pre-baked tart shell – I used a large oval baking dish so if you are using a smaller one you will have enough batter for two possibly.  Arrange the sliced figs all over the custard, slightly layering them.  Drizzle more balsamic cream over the figs and sprinkle with the remaining two tablespoons of sugar.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until the custard is set and the crust and figs are well browned.

Allow tart to cool for about 15-20 minutes before serving to give the custard time to set firmly and the juices from the figs to soak in.  Serve warm.

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