Total time: 1 hour and 15 minutes
Note: You can use the pastry of your choice or a commercially prepared pie crust.
Prepared pastry for a 9-inch pie pan
1/2 pound blanched and peeled almonds
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons lemon zest
3/4 pound figs
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon water
1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. If using a prepared pie shell, proceed to Step 2. Otherwise, roll the pastry dough to a thickness of one-fourth inch and fit it into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom or a pie pan, trimming and discarding any excess. Refrigerate until firm.
2. Meanwhile, in a food processor, grind the almonds, sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt, butter and lemon zest to make a smooth, slightly flowing paste. Set aside.
3. Remove the stems from the figs and cut the fruit into lengthwise quarters. Set aside.
4. Pre-bake the shell: Prick the shell with a fork. Lay a sheet of foil or parchment paper in the tart shell and fill it with dried beans or baking beads and bake until the rim is dried and lightly golden, about 10 minutes. (Timing will vary depending on the dough; a pre-formed shell may require less time.) Remove from the oven and remove the beans and the foil.
5. Spread the almond mixture in the base of the tart, using the back of a spoon to spread it evenly. Arrange the cut-up figs as you like on top of the almond mixture, pushing them in a bit.
6. Place the filled shell on a baking sheet and bake until the almond mixture is puffed and golden, 40 to 45 minutes.
7. When the tart is almost done baking, warm the honey and water in a small saucepan until fluid. When the tart is done, lightly brush the top of each fig with a little of the honey mixture. Serve at room temperature.
Basic tart shell
Total time: About 1 1/2 hours, plus resting time
Servings: Makes 1 (9-inch) tart shell or a (9-inch) deep-dish pie crust
Note: Adapted from "Bouchon" by Thomas Keller
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups flour, divided, plus a little more for rolling
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 -inch pieces
1/4 cup ice water
1. Place the sugar, salt and 1 cup of the flour in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Turn the mixer to low speed and add the butter a small handful at a time.
2. When all the butter has been added, increase the speed to medium and mix until the butter is completely blended with the flour. Reduce the speed, add the remaining flour and mix just to combine.
3. A little at a time, add one-fourth cup ice water and mix until the dough gathers around the paddle and pulls cleanly away from the sides of the bowl. It should feel smooth, not sticky.
(Alternatively, the basic dough can be made in a food processor. Place the sugar, salt and 1 cup of the flour in the food processor. Pulse the processor a few times to incorporate. Add several chunks of butter at a time, pulsing once or twice between additions. When all the butter has been added, sprinkle in the remaining flour about one-fourth cup at a time, pulsing once or twice between additions, just until combined. Add the water a little at a time, pulsing between additions, just until the dough starts to gather together and pull away from the bowl.)
4. Remove the dough from the mixer and check to be certain there are no visible pieces of butter remaining; if necessary, return the dough to the mixer and mix briefly again. Pat the dough into a 7- to 8-inch disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to a day. (If the dough does not rest, it will shrink as it bakes.)
5. Place the dough on a floured work surface and rub on all sides with flour. Flatten it into a larger circle using a rolling pin or the heel of your hand. Roll the rolling pin back and forth across the dough a few times, then turn it 90 degrees and roll again. Continue to turn and roll until the dough is one-fourth inch thick and about 14 inches in diameter. (If the kitchen is hot and the dough has become very soft, move it to a baking sheet and refrigerate for a few minutes.)
6. To lift the dough into the tart pan, place the rolling pin across the dough about one-quarter of the way up from the bottom edge, fold the bottom edge of the dough up and over the pin, and roll the dough up on the rolling pin. Lift the dough on the pin and hold it over the pan, centering it. Carefully lower the dough into the pan, pressing it gently against the sides and into the bottom.
7. Trim any dough that extends more than an inch over the sides of the pan and reserve the scraps. Fold the excess dough over, doubling the thickness of the sides of the shell. Place in the refrigerator or freezer for at least 20 minutes to re-solidify the butter.
Each serving: 655 calories; 12 grams protein; 61 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams fiber; 43 grams fat; 18 grams saturated fat; 148 mg. cholesterol; 252 mg. sodium.