Using ingredients from California was the goal of chef Alan Fine, a transplant to San Francisco from Ohio, as he explored winter desserts that emphasize the West. The dried fruit--figs, prunes, or apricots--poach plump and juicy in wine, then bake in a toasted almond cream. Wine-poached Fig and Almond Tart About 1-1/2 cups dry red wine 1/2 cup granulated sugar 1 cinnamon stick, 2 or 3 inches Yellow part of peel pared thinly from 1 lemon 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 pound (2 cups packed) moist-pack dried figs Toasted almond cream (directions follow) Pastry shell (directions follow) 2 tablespoons currant jelly
In a 2- to 3-quart pan, combine wine, sugar, cinnamon, peel, juice, and pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Add figs, cover, and simmer until figs are plump and soft, 20 to 30 minutes. Let cool in syrup (as long as overnight), then drain, reserving syrup; discard peel and cinnamon.
Spread almond cream evenly in pastry shell. Trim woody stem ends from figs and arrange fruit evenly over almond filling. Bake in the lower third of a 400[deg.] oven until filling is richly browned (it swells up around fruit), about 45 minutes.
Let tart stand at least 45 minutes before cutting. Meanwhile, if you have more than 2/3 cup syrup, boil until reduced to this amount; if you have less, add wine to make 2/3 cup. Add the jelly and heat, stirring, until jelly is melted. Serve syrup hot or at room temperature over wedges of the tart. Makes 10 to 12 servings.
Toasted almond cream. In a food processor or with a nut grater, process 3/4 cup blanched almonds until powdery. Pour nuts into an 8- to 10-inch frying pan and stir over medium-high heat until nuts are slightly darker in color and smell toasted, 3 to 4 minutes; take care not to scorch. Remove from heat and stir in 3/4 cup powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour; let cool. In food processor or with a mixer, blend nut mixture thoroughly with 1/2 cup (1/4 lb.) unsalted or salted butter or margarine, cut in pieces; then add 1 large egg, 1 large egg yolk, and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Use, or let stand at room temperature up to 4 hours.
Pastry shell. In a food processor or a bowl, combine 2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, and 3/4 cup (3/8 lb.) butter or margarine, cut in small pieces. Process or rub with your fingers to form fine crumbs. Add 1 large egg and process or stir with a fork until dough holds together. Shape into a compact ball, flatten into a cake, then press evenly over bottom and 1 inch up side of a 10- to 11-inch pan with removable bottom. Fill, or cover and chill up to 24 hours. Wine-poached Prune and Almond Tart
Follow preceding directions; substitute pitted moist-pack dried prunes for figs. Wine-poached Apricot and Almond Tart
Follow directions for wine-poached fig and almond tart, but use dry white wine instead of red, and increase wine in poaching syrup to 2 cups. Also increase sugar to 2/3 cup. Omit pepper, use moist-pack dried apricots instead of figs, and press apricots down into filling. When apricot edges begin to darken (after about 20 minutes in oven), lay a sheet of foil over pan as pastry bakes.
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|Date:||Mar 1, 1985|
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