Fig and Mascarpone Tart in Rome

One of my greatest pleasures while traveling is simply walking (and eating) my way through local farmers markets. Nowhere was that more evident than in Rome’s Campo di Fiori.

Campo de Fiori, Rome.  May 1, 2009

On this particular visit, I just couldn’t resist the fresh picked, plump juicy figs that seemingly permeated every corner of the market. Rows upon rows of the fleshiest figs I have ever seen anywhere. I didn’t know what I was going to make but knew that somehow I’d make it work and when in doubt, make a tart! I wandered around some more stalls for more inspiration and picked up some quintessentially Italian mascarpone cheese and a bottle of aged balsamic vinegar and there it was. My tart just came to life…in my head at least. Thankfully it tasted just as good coming out of the oven.

Fig and Mascarpone Tart

Ingredients

Sweet Tart Crust

250g unsalted butter, room temperature

200g sugar

pinch salt

2 eggs

500g All purpose flour

1. Preheat oven to 375C

2. Cream butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy

3. Add eggs one at a time and mix to combine

4. Add flour and mix until dough comes together.

5. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes

6. Roll out dough to about 1″ larger than the tart shell you are using. Keep the thickness of your dough to 1/4″.

7. Press dough into your tart shell, being careful not to overwork the dough. Trim excess and refrigerate another 15 minutes. This prevents the dough from shrinking when it bakes

8. Cut out a round of parchment paper, line with pie weights and bake your crust for 15 minutes. Take the pie weights out and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until your crust is golden brown.

9. Let your crust chill to room temperature before assembling the rest of the tart. Refrigerate the crust if you are making this ahead of time

Filling

3 egg yolks

2 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp sweet marsala wine

150g mascarpone cheese

80ml heavy cream

2 tsp sugar

1 tsp vanilla

About 20 fresh figs, cut into 1/2 inch slices lengthwise

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp water

2 tbsp sugar

3/4 tsp cornstarch

1. In a heatproof bowl on top of a double boiler, whisk egg yolks, sugar and marsala until the mixture triples in volume and thickens. Do not overcook or your yolks will scramble

2. Immediately place this bowl into another bowl filled with ice water and whisk until the mixture cools.

3. In a separate bowl whip mascarpone until creamy. Gradually incorporate the yolk mixture until completely incorporated. Scrape down the side of the bowl a few times and set aside.

4. In a chilled mixing bowl, combine heavy cream with the other 2 tsp of sugar. Whip until stiff peaks form.

5. Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture, fill your tart shell and refrigerate.

6. Remove your chilled tart from the fridge. Starting at the outside edge, place figs with pointed ends facing up, in concentric circles on top of the filling.

7. In a saucepan, combine the balsamic vinegar, water, remaining sugar and cornstarch and stir until sugar and starch are well dissolved. Heat over medium, stirring constantly until it comes to a boil. Boil for one minute, remove from heat and with a pastry brush, glaze the figs.

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