Foodiva's Kitchen: Autumnal Baking Challenge - Pomegranate, Fig and Pistachio Tart in a Chocolate Stripe Crust

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Autumnal Baking Challenge - Pomegranate, Fig and Pistachio Tart in a Chocolate Stripe Crust

Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.
~ Stanley Horowitz

Where I reside now, there are no seasons and only two types of weather - sunny and often thunderstorm-like rain. But I do remember autumns spent in Europe and North America when I studied and worked there. Cardigan-weather, we used to call it. It must've been my favorite season out of the four, with the bearable coolness in the air and the messy, leaf-kicking path to school, Uni., office, etc. 

I know I looked forward to the heartier autumnal dishes and heartwarming desserts although I can't in all honesty recall what I ate as a student. So let's fast forward to the period when I could afford to eat the good stuff - my working days! Living in Europe at the time, my kitchen was constantly filled with figs, plums, pomegranates, etc. freshly bought from the farmer's market. Out of everything else, I miss the fresh purple figs the most... I could eat baskets of them - and probably did!

Don't these scream "AUTUMN" to you?

It was around that time also that I'd learnt to bake properly, trying to decipher recipes from books published in another language (well, I mean other than English, which is another language for me too). The first results were disastrous but I guess I got better with practice. It seemed that the more stressful my job got, the more I baked, sometimes even during the wee hours of the morning when I couldn't sleep. It was certainly cheaper than having therapy, but unfortunately my waistline paid dearly for it. Hey, I was still trying to build a career something had to give.

Anyway, those figs are what stuck with me most about autumn. The first time I ever made a tart with them and brought the dessert over to a friend's dinner party, it received so many oohs and ahhs that I became known as "that yummy fig tart lady" thereon after. Yummy for the fig tart, of course, although I'd forgive you if you thought it was 'yummy' for the lady who made it too :-).

So why all this waxing lyrical about autumn when I now live in a tropical rainforest climate? Well, Kate over at What Kate Baked is running an Autumnal Baking Challenge until 21st October, 2011 and I'm participating in it. There's also a giveaway tied to the challenge but that's not why I'm linking this post. I simply want to re-live those memories of fall and my 15 minutes of fame with that first yummy fig tart.

Alas, there are no fresh figs to be found over here although I had no qualms about reconstituting the dried ones that we do have plenty of. Beggars can't be choosers, and since we have no autumn to speak of, we are technically (sigh) beggars. Fresh pomegranates are everywhere now, so I incorporated the arils into some custard flavored with a dash of rosewater. That simple act gave the tart an extra dimension of interest - flavor, color and texture-wise. 

You didn't think I just stopped there, did you? Well, if the tart filling was going to be beautiful, I figured the tart crust would have to be as equally interesting, so what I did was to create chocolate stripes along the edges of the crust. On the base of the crust, I gently pressed chopped pistachio nuts before baking and pouring the filling in. If you were to take a bite out of this tart, you would just about be able to sense the presence of the chocolate and pistachios, very subtle notes amongst the melee of other flavors. Ahh...I have complex tastebuds, can you not already tell?

Pomegranate, Fig and Pistachio Tart in a Chocolate Stripe Crust
Makes one 8-inch shallow tart
Chocolate Stripe Crust:
125g all-purpose flour
63g cold butter, chopped into cubes
50g sugar
1/2 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon cocoa powder

(Note: You can make double the above amount for two 8-inch tarts, or freeze the rest of the dough for future use)

1 egg
1 scant tablespoon sugar
100ml coconut cream (or double cream)
1/2 teaspoon rosewater
100g sliced figs (fresh or reconstituted dried ones)
100g pomegranate arils
20g shelled pistachio nuts, roasted and chopped

1. To make the crust: Place flour, butter and sugar in a bowl and rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add beaten egg and knead with your hands quickly until it becomes a moist (but not sticky) ball of dough.
2. To make the chocolate stripes: Scoop out a tablespoonful of the above dough and add the cocoa powder. Knead the cocoa into the dough on a clean surface until fully incorporated. Roll cocoa dough into thin ropes using your palms, arrange strips of this upright along the ridges of the tart pan (see photo above). Flatten the strips lightly against the edge.
3. Press the plain dough into the base and sides of the tart pan. Cut off excess dough at the top with a sharp knife. Prick the base of the dough all over with a fork and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 180C/375F. Take a tablespoon of the chopped pistachio nuts and sprinkle on the base of the tart crust. Press the nuts gently into the dough. Line the top of the crust with parchment paper and place rice or beans on top. Bake blind for 15 minutes.
5. In the meantime, make the filling. Mix the egg, sugar, rosewater and coconut cream in a small bowl until well-blended, then stir in half the pomegranate arils.
6. Take the tart pan out of the oven, remove the parchment paper and baking beans. Pour in the pomegranate coconut custard into the crust and arrange sliced figs at the edges. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the custard just sets on top. Leave to cool completely. Top with the rest of the pomegranates and pistachios before serving. Best eaten on day of baking.

Desserts, Tart


Working london mummy said...

this looks delicious. I love pomegranate, we just dont get full flavoured ones in the UK

Foodiva said...

Hiya, thanks. You may not get tasty pomegranates over there, but I bet you can get fresh figs! Ahh...I'm so envious :-(.

Nami | Just One Cookbook said...

Another hats off recipe Maya! I love how pomegranate looks like jewels. What a unique and beautiful tart. I'd love to have a piece - I'm so curious of this flavor!

Foodiva said...

Hi Nami, I've missed you! If you want to taste it, you'd have to bake it...LOL, I know how much you hate baking so I'm teasing you! The pomegranates do look a bit like colorful jewels, don't they? I just wish they were real ones, that's all :-).

Carolyn said...

That crust is amazing. As always, your creations take it to a new level of artistry. Looks delicious too!

Baker Street said...

Love that combination! and the tart looks gorgeous! xx

Foodiva said...

Hi Carolyn, it's a pretty easy crust to make and it's eye-catching too... thanks for the buzz, girl!

Foodiva said...

An@Baker Street, I didn't give the ingredients much thought and just worked with what 'autumn' fruits I had in my kitchen. But wow, the flavors worked well together! And I'm as amazed as you. LOL.

Cristina, from Buenos Aires to Paris said...

Amazing colors AND flacors..I love pistacchio!!

easyfoodsmith said...

What a beautiful creation!! Lovely flavours and awesome pics!

Ei said...

That is one beautiful tart! I also want to thank you, because a light bulb just went off for me. I love your method of putting the round part of the crust in, and then squishing a snake in to fill the sides. I always try doing the whole thing from one sheet of crust (like for a pie), and it's always too thin and uneven on the sides. Always. I think you just solved my problem!

the [sugar] apothecary said...

Ohhh how I'd miss fall if we only had two seasons! As often as I dream of moving to CA during the winter months that bring me to the brink of "The Shining"-esque madness, I know I'd miss autumn the most.

Figs will forever be one of my favorite foods on the planet, I'm totally with you on that one! You go, Yummy Fig Tart Lady! My only problem with dried figs is that I have to buy 4x the amount I actually need for a recipe... I tend to eat them all in the meantime. Those chocolate stripes are an awesome touch, too. Hooray for fall! :)

Tina said...

This is a winner: creative use of fall ingredients, eye catching, innovative method of assembly and lastly (no doubt) delicious! I wish I could sit in your kitchen for one day just to watch and learn..oh and don't forget to eat also. Great post.

Anonymous said...

What an amazingly creative and fun dessert!

Sandra said...

Awesome recipe Maya..and it is so creative..always something better and new to feast our eyes on:)) Beautiful post!!!!

Priyanka said...

Thats such an amazing and innovative. M so tempted :)

Trix said...

You may not live in the climate anymore, but you certainly did channel fall! Your dish would be perfectly at home on this rainy and windy day ... I love figs too. : )

Gina said...

Well that settles it, we will just have to spend next Fall in Paris and soak up the weather. This came out so gorgeous, as always. Love that striped crust, I hear you about the waistline suffering, he he. I felt the leaves rustling about my feet as I read this. Hope you week is going great.

Vicki Bensinger said...

What I'd do to be in tropical rainforest right now. Instead it's freezing cold and raining.

What a fun tart you've created and so pretty. I love the striped crust. You are so creative!

Kathy said...

Fantastic looking tart and as always very creative!

peachkins said...

It looks fantastic!

Anonymous said...

This looks delicious! I remember when I lived in the Philippines, we had the same type of weather.

I live in Florida now, so we have cardigan weather, but not too much....which is good! I don't like the cold!

I do, however, like this tart!

'Le ricette dell'Amore Vero' di Claudia Annie said...

ti adoro ufficialmente! complimentiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!!

Gloria said...

Dear this look amazing and delicious!!! Im follwoing you! gloria

Lizzy said...

Oh, my gosh! This is stunning from every angle! Such a fabulous dessert...and full of so many autumn favorites :)

Choclette said...

Ha ha, it's hard to imagine hot climes here at the moment - I'm sitting typing in my coat and shivering. More stunning photographs and a feast for the eyes from you. I'm always so impressed by everything I see on your blog. This fig tart has got to be completely delicious.

Jen at The Three Little Piglets said...

That's gorgeous! Good job on your challenge!

Cheap Ethnic Eatz said...

That is one amazing looking pie. Oh the figs of Europe, yes I can eat it by the ton too. Really stunning creation and glad it bring you a note of missing fall. I certainly would not mind your weather for a year, minimum! Snow is coming soon...for months on end.

Cinnamon and Thyme said...

Just discovered your blog! Love it! And this recipe sounds and looks delicious! :)


Joy said...

The tart looks wonderful.

Chic & Gorgeous Treats said...

hi foodiva! you're a food-diva indeed in my eyes. so many amazing recipes and beautiful photos. this tart looks simply decadent and i'm so happy to meet another fellow msian. the trip to foodbuzz was a well deserved vacation and i will go back in a heart beat. thanks so much for buzzing me over at my blog. i truly appreciate it and do stay in touch. hugggs, jo

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