Sunday, September 1, 2013

Fresh Fig and Raspberry Crostata

 The past couple of weeks I have seen little baskets full of fresh figs at Whole Foods.  For some reason, I have never in my life bought figs before.  Or even noticed them.  Maybe it's because I don't shop in stores that carry them?  Or maybe I just glaze over because I have no idea what I would do with them?  (Which is a lie, because I have totally been thinking about making a blue cheese, fig, and bacon pizza.)  Anyway, this year I have been wanting to use them in some kind of dessert when I came across this crostata.

Crostata apparently means "tart" in Italian.  Now you know.

The crust is made from sesame seeds and almonds, which sounded really unusual and is for sure something I have never made and maybe never tasted.  The book describes it as tasting like a Linzer cookie, and I have to say it is so incredibly good.  Nom nom nom.

Take 1/2 cup of sesame seeds and 3/4 cup of unblanched almonds and toast them.  I let mine get a little brown until they smelled deeply rich and nutty.  When brown, remove them from the pan so they don't continue cooking and let them cool.

While waiting for them to cool, mix two eggs with 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

And mix the other dry ingredients.

When the almonds and sesame seeds are cooled, mix them in a food processor with 1 tablespoon of sugar.  Mix only until the almonds are coarsely chopped, but not enough that it starts to turn oily and into almond sesame butter (although admittedly that sounds kind of awesome).

With your Kitchen Aid mixer with a paddle attachment, add the flour mixture and the sesame seeds and mix the dry ingredients together.

Then add two sticks of butter and the eggs and vanilla.  Beat until the butter is in small pieces.  It's OK if there are still some small chunks in the dough because you will work them out when you knead it.

Turn out the dough and knead it.  Cut it into two uneven halves (the smaller half will be for the lattice crust).  Chill it until you need to use it-this doesn't seem to be a traditional crust where everything needs to be ice cold before baking it.

Now for the filling!  Wash and dry the fruit.

Cut off the stems of the figs and then cut figs into quarters.

Add half the figs and raspberries to a sauce pan along with 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of packed brown sugar, 1 1/2 tablespoons of flour, 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest and one tablespoon of butter and let simmer.  The fruit will release their juices and come to a boil ( it will probably splatter all over your stove top, just like it did on mine), making a very sweet jam.  You will need to counter balance the sweetness with some fresh squeezed lemon juice to add some dimension.  Just do this to your personal preference. 

Bring out the larger half of the dough.  When you unwrap it, it will smell sweet and buttery and nutty.  Yum!  Put it on a floured piece of wax paper.  Roll it out.  The dough is very soft and cookie like.  It will stick to the rolling pin, so go ahead and flour the pin as well.

And then gently drop it into the pie dish.  If it tears, just piece it back together with the warmth of your hands.  Also, as a side note, the recipe actually calls for a tart pan.  I'm not a huge fan of my tart pan and decided a pie dish would work perfectly fine.  Which it did.

Take out the smaller half of your pie crust, roll it out, and cut into strips for the lattice top. 

Weave the strips on the top of the pie. (FYI, I took all the left over scraps of the dough and cut them into squares, baked them at 350 for 10 minutes, and served them as cookies.  They tasted just like shortbread.)   Egg wash the lattice strips, and then sprinkle with sugar.

Take the assembled pie and chill in the fridge for at least thirty minutes.  You can leave it in the fridge for a couple of hours before baking, if you need to.  But who can wait that long?

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.  The filling should be bubbling and the crust a pretty golden color.  I really love using my pie crust protector, because it keeps those mercurial outer edges from burning.  

We served the pie warm with a scoop of melty vanilla ice cream.  Because is there anything really better than that?

My almost ten year old was a big fan of this pie.  "Tastes like I'm in heaven," he said as he tucked in.  Agreed.  

Sesame Almond Dough
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup unblanched almonds
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon lemon zest
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

Raspberry Fig Crostata
3/4 pound fresh figs
3/4 pound fresh raspberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Lemon juice

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