This past Spring I wrote a blog series for the Southern Foodways Alliance called "Give Me Some Sugar" on Southern women pastry chefs. Among the list of talented women I spoke to were Virginian-turned-New Yorker Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar, Phoebe Lawless of Durham's Scratch Bakery, and Dolester Miles of Birmingham's Bottega, who recently wowed attendees at the SFA 2013 Symposium with her toasted cornmeal pound cake. One chef I sadly missed is Jenny McCoy. Jenny comes from a long line of Alabama natives, and along with her work in pastry and teaching at the Institute of Culinary Education, she's also a writer, contributing to Serious Eats and The Huffington Post. She also just released a beautiful new cookbook Jenny McCoy's Desserts for Every Season.
The book is arranged seasonally, with the likes of Meyer Lemon and Pistachio Tarts and Moonshine Eggnog in the Winter, Rhubarb-Rose Water Crumble & Cherry Cola Sorbet in the Spring, and Peach and Sweet Corn Ice Cream Cake in the Summer. For Autumn, Jenny is sharing with us her Fresh Fig Tartlets with Goat Cheese & Red Wine Syrup. She says that the recipe came about when she was baking for the 10th Anniversary Celebration at Craft in New York City. When she and pastry chef Claudia Fleming couldn't agree on a dessert, they let guests create their own in a dessert buffet of tart shells, fillings, and fruits. Figs with goat cheese cream and red wine syrup was her favorite combination.
But as they say in Reading Rainbow, you don't have to take my word for it! Find that fig tart recipe below, and check out the cookbook, and Jenny's website and twitter here and here.
Fresh Fig Tartlets with Goat Cheese & Red Wine Syrup
From Jenny McCoy's Desserts for Every Season, Rizzoli New York, 2013
Makes 12 individual tartlets
For Blond sablé dough:
9 ounces (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c. plus 2 Tblsp. granulated sugar
2 large eggs
3 3/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar on the lowest speed until just evenly combined, about 1 minute. Add the eggs and continue to mix until evenly combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the flour and salt, and mix until the dough is smooth and just comes together.
2. Remove the dough from the mixer, divide it in half, and flatten each piece into a 1-inch thick disk. Wrap them tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, 1-2 hours.
Unbleached all-purpose flour for dusting
1 c. (4 oz.) fresh goat cheese
1 c. (4 oz.) mascarpone
1 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. confectioners' sugar
Zest of 1/2 orange, finely grated
24 ripe Black Mission of Calimyrna figs, quartered, with stems trimmed
1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin. On a lightly floured surface, roll one disk of the chilled dough into a large rectangle. Use additional flour and give the dough a quarter turn between each roll to prevent it from sticking. Continue rolling until the dough is 1/8-inch thick. Drape the dough over the rolling pin, transfer to prepared baking sheet, and refrigerate about 30 minutes. Repeat with second disk of dough.
2. Once the sheets of the dough are firm, cut 5-inch circles from the dough and line each muffin cup with 1 circle, pressing the dough evenly into the corners and sides of the pan. Freeze the lined tin until the dough is fully hardened, about 15 minutes
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Fit a pastry bag with a 1/2-inch round pastry trip. Bake the shells until they are light golden brown, 16-18 minutes. Rotate the muffin pan midway through baking time and pierce the dough gently with a fork if the centers puff up. Let cool to room temperature.
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the goat cheese, mascarpone, cream, confectioners' sugar, and orange zest on medium speed until thickened and smooth, 3-5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pastry bag and refrigerate until ready to use.
5. About 30 minutes before serving, pipe the goat cheese filling into each tart shell until full. Gently toss the figs in about half the red wine syrup (recipe below) to coat. Top each tart with figs and drizzle with the remaining syrup just before serving.
For red wine syrup:
3/4 c. red wine
3/4 c. granulated sugar
Zest of 1/4 orange, finely grated
1 cinnamon stick
3 whole star anise
6 whole cloves
1/4 tsp. pink peppercorns
1/4 tsp. black peppercorns
1/4 tsp. whole coriander seeds
1/2 tsp. whole allspice
1. In a small saucepan, bring the wine, sugar, orange zest, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, peppercorns, coriander, and allspice to a boil and cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Strain the syrup through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and let cool to room temperature. Discard spices and use as above.
Photo by Pernille Pedersen from Jenny McCoy's Desserts For Every Season
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