Fig and hazelnut frangipane tart

Danielle Alvarez and Libby Travers really amp up the hazelnut flavour by first making a hazelnut praline, which is then used to make a traditional frangipane. The combination of figs with hazelnuts in a crisp, sweet tart shell is pure bliss – the smells coming out of your kitchen will leave you intoxicated.

Makes 1 tart

WHAT YOU NEED

For the sweet tart shell

150g unsalted butter, at room temperature
35g soft brown sugar
35g white (granulated) sugar
50g honey
250g plain (all-purpose) flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt

For the hazelnut frangipane

140g hazelnuts
80g soft brown sugar
1 tablespoon water
130g unsalted butter, at room temperature
80g white (granulated) sugar
Pinch of fine sea salt
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
80g plain (all-purpose) flour

11-12 ripe figs
1 tablespoon white (granulated) sugar

WHAT TO DO

For the sweet tart

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and both sugars on low speed, stopping and scraping down the bowl with a spatula as needed. Add in the honey and mix to combine.

Mix the flour and salt together in a separate bowl.

Add the flour mix to the stand mixer and bring the dough together on a low–medium speed, stopping and scraping the bowl as needed to bring it together evenly.

Scoop the dough onto a large sheet of baking paper laid out on your bench and cover it with a second sheet of baking paper. Use a rolling pin to roll your dough to a thickness of 2mm. If your dough is too soft, place it in the fridge for 15 minutes to firm up slightly, then continue to roll. Place the rolled sheet of dough in the fridge for 10 minutes to chill.

Remove the top sheet of baking paper and proceed to peel off as much of the pastry in one piece as you can from the bottom sheet. Lay the pastry into your fluted tart tin.

The important thing here is to take your time. This is the longest step in the process, but the resulting super thin, crisp shell is a thing of beauty. Press the dough into the fluted edges, leaving an overhang of around 1 cm (½ inch) (this will help guard against shrinkage as the dough relaxes). Place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 155°C (310°F) fan-forced.

Remove the tart shell from the fridge. At this point, you can trim the overhanging dough by running a small paring knife along the edge of the tin. Cover the dough with a sheet or two of aluminium foil and gently press it into the pastry, being sure to cover the base and the sides. Weigh the base of the pastry down using pie weights or dried rice or beans, or a mixture of both.

Bake for 35 minutes, then carefully remove the foil and pie weights. Use the excess dough to patch up any cracks that have appeared (there may not be any). Bake for a further 10–15 minutes, until the base is completely and evenly golden. Remove the pastry from the oven and leave it to cool in the tin before you proceed to fill it.

For the hazelnut frangipane

Preheat your oven to 150°C fan-forced. Place the hazelnuts on a baking tray and toast them for 30 ­minutes. If using hazelnuts with the skin still on, once toasted, tip them into a tea towel and use the tea towel to rub as much of the skin off as possible. Leave the oven on.

Line a baking tray with baking paper and set it aside. In a small stainless-steel saucepan, heat the brown sugar and water over a low–medium heat, stirring occasionally using a heatproof spoon or spatula, until it’s smoking and has turned a deep shade of amber. Add in the hazelnuts and stir to coat. If your caramel turns grainy after adding the hazelnuts, simply continue to cook it until the sugar melts again and forms a glossy sheen on the nuts. Carefully tip the praline onto your baking tray, spread it out, and allow to cool completely.

Once cool, break the hazelnut praline into pieces and process them in a food processor until a thick paste forms. Combine the praline paste in a bowl with the butter, white sugar, salt, eggs and vanilla. Add in the flour last and stir to just combine. Set aside.

Increase your oven temperature to 160°C (320°F) fan-forced.

Spread the frangipane over the base of the tart shell, smoothing it out with an offset or regular spatula. Nestle the figs into the frangipane, cut-side up. Sprinkle the tablespoon of sugar over the figs and bake for 50–60 minutes, until the top is golden and the figs are jammy.

Allow the tart to cool, then serve with crème fraîche.


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