The summer is here once again and it just seems to get hotter every year. It almost feels unbelievable that just one month back it was so pleasant and I could still find fruit like strawberries, figs and other winter produce at the market.
As I child, I don’t think I even knew what figs were. At some point, when I was much older, I came across dried figs. I first discovered them at my cousin’s house, in the gift boxes containing dried fruit and nuts which were normally exchanged during Diwali.
This was in north India where figs are commonplace enough but still a rarity in south India, where I am from.
Then I found dried figs were being sold by my spice vendor in Kochi. They’re very attractive and quaint (many people don’t think so, but I do), sold as little bracelet sized circles or longer garlands made of flattened discs of fig strung through the centre with natural twine.
On an aside, did you know that the fig is not really a fruit, but the flower of the fig tree?
Then last year, I saw fresh figs for the first time at my local market. I think I caught them at the end of the season because when I went back the figs were gone! Then last month I saw them again.
I have always liked eating dried figs and really love the chewy taste of the dried fruit with the slight crunch from the seeds. So it is not surprising I would like fresh figs and brought some home.
Surprisingly, no one seemed to want this fresh fruit other than myself! So much the better, I thought, since I didn’t have to share. However, I did have more fresh figs on hand than I could eat by myself and fresh figs aren’t famous for their ability to keep.
There was only one thing to be done. Make something with figs! But what?
Given that I had been making a lot of jam and chutney, I wasn’t very thrilled by the idea of making some more jam or preserve. After a lot of recipe searching and thought, I made small fig tarts with cardamom scented frangipane.
I used the pate sable recipe from last month’s Daring Baker challenge for the crust, and I used Pim’s frangipane recipe for which she uses to make her “best ever fig tart”! Instead of making one big tart, I made small individual tarts, finally putting to use the tart tins Deeba had sent me some time back. I also decided to flavour the frangipane with my favourite spice, cardamom.
You can use blanched almonds, and your frangipane will be a nice whitish colour, but I use almonds with the skin on. I like the flecked brown in the frangipane, which is a good thing because I’m too lazy to blanch and skin the almonds.
You can also make these tarts with other fresh fruit like pears, mangoes, sweet plums, etc.