Desserts are a subject where I feel you need to play to your audience. No point in giving an overly-sugared, overly-chocolatey cake to older members of the family. No point making toffee desserts for the family members in braces or with teeth problems. No point giving a big floury cake to someone who can't deal with gluten very well. You need to play to your crowd, and no one likes not to go to the trouble of making a cake and not see it enjoyed. Happily, this recipe was enthusiastically received last week, with all plates scraped clean. A fig and walnut tart from Maggie Beer, it is a wonderful dessert for anyone looking for something a litle bit different, that also happens to be gluten free. It is soft, not overly sweet, and very delicious. I undercooked mine slightly - next time I will make sure to wait until it has pulled away from the tin a little (as per instructions below).
The recipe comes from her book, "Maggie's Table", where she comments that she has been embarrassed by the enthusiastic response to this tart when it couldn't be simpler to make. The combination of "enthusiastic responses" and "simple to make", are a combination of comments ensuring that I had to give this tart a try. I think it looks luscious and soft and romantic too. It also used up the egg whites that have been sitting in my freezer - always make sure you freeze leftover egg whites or egg yolks for later use. By the way, Maggie Beer also advises not to worry if it falls apart a little as you serve it as it is meant to be soft sticky and rustic. Thanks Maggie.
Fig and Walnut Tart
330g dried figs
6 egg whites
250g dark brown sugar
creme fraiche and very thin slice sof lime for serving
Preheat the oven to 220C. Roast the walnuts on a baking tray for about 5 minutes. Once cooked, tip them onto a tea towel, fold the towel over and rub them to remove the bitter papery skins on the nuts. Pick out the nuts, leaving behind the skins, and allow to cool.
Reduce oven to 180C. Line and grease a 24cm spring form tin. Remove the hard stem from each fig, then chop them finely (you should have about 1 1/2 cups). Toss the walnuts and figs together.
Using a stand mixer, whisk egg whites to soft peaks, then add the sugr table spoon by table spoon as you continue beating. Once all the sugar is incorporated, the mixture should be thick and stiff. Take a couple of spoonfuls of the meringue mixture and mix it through the figs and walnuts. Tip the figs and walnuts back into the meringue and fold through. Spoon into the prepared tin and bake for 45-50 mins; until the tart starts to pull away from the sides of the tin and feels set on top.
Allow to cool. Serve with creme fraiche and very fine slices of fresh lime.