It’s been a while since I’ve baked anything more adventurous than muffins (although I did make some lovely orange chocolate muffins last weekend). I’ve been churning out the bread with the help of my lovely 10 euro bread machine but no exciting new sweet things.

Our first anniversary seemed like a good occasion to try something new. I’d spotted figs in all the shops at the moment so wanted to use them. I bought some on the way home from work but managed to forget every other ingredient in the recipe I was wanting to try. So with Rasmus already preparing the pork, I needed to think of something fast.

As I may have mentioned a few times, Rasmus is not the sweet things fanatic that my Dad is. Which after years of dad happily tucking into every sweet thing I was willing to produce came as something of a surprise. Really? You’d pick a starter over dessert??! One year in to marriage and it’s starting to sink in and I am doing secret excited dances every time I discover a sweet recipe he really enjoys.

And before he emails me citing libel, let me just say for the record that he will eat my offerings, he does like sweet things. I just shouldn’t expect a whole batch of muffins to be eaten in under 48 hours (no offence dad :)

SOOO. Back to the point. I have come home early from work with only some pre-made pastry and my imagination to help me. And for my own sense of pride I need to produce some fantastic anniversary-worthy dessert within a couple of hours.

I do a quick fig search since I did indeed buy some of them, but nothing comes up that I have all the ingredients for (and yes, those who know where I live, I was too lazy to go downstairs to the shop).

But then inspiration strikes and I google search “caramel tart”, knowing caramel is one thing Rasmus does like a lot, and loads of incredibly simple recipes come up… for which I have all the ingredients! Clearly a sign.

It really was one of the easiest recipes in the world. I pre-baked the pastry in individual tins and then heated all the caramel ingredients on the stove and poured it in to set. That was it. It’s not so much toffee-caramelly as creamy-caramelly but it still tasted really good.

Fast forward a week and I am still recovering from a horrid cold and the uneaten figs are starting to look very sorry for themselves. Rasmus and I are enjoying a lazy Saturday afternoon curled up on the couch, he with his comics and me with my old recipe magazines. Aren’t we cute?! (we’d also been at a friend’s leaving do outside for the previous three and a half hours and I was trying to coax my frozen feet back to life)

Flipping through an old Delicious magazine I discover a recipe for Fig and Hazelnut tart. Do we hazelnuts? No. But oh glorious of bottom drawers, we do have pecans. Which in my opinion are even better. A chance to give my poor figs some meaning to their life. And this was also the most simple of recipes. I chucked everything in the food processor and twenty seconds later it was done. Literally all I had to do was toast the nuts and chop the figs.

And this dessert was even better than the caramel tart! Rasmus says it would have been even better with some cream served with it so make sure you have some in the house when you try this one.

Hazelnut and Fig Slice

From Delicious (UK) magazine, October 2007

Ingredients:

40g unsalted butter, melted

225g whole blanched hazelnuts, toasted (I used pecans)

2 tsp grated orange zest

75g plain flour

110g golden caster sugar

1 medium egg, plus 1 egg white

1 tbsp marsala or dessert wine

6 fresh figs

to serve: cream and a drizzle of honey

Method:

  1. preheat the oven to 180c/gas 4. Grease a 33x11cm loose bottomed tin.
  2. finely grind the hazelnuts in a food processor. Add the zest, flour, sugar, butter, eggs and marsala and whizzzzzz to combine.
  3. add 2 figs and whizzzzzz to chop. spread in the tart tin and bake for 10 mins.
  4. cut the remaining figs into 6. Sit on top of the slice, skin side down and bake for a further 40-45 mins, until golden.
  5. Cool slightly, release from tin and serve with a dollop of cream or mascarpone.

Fi’s notes: I had just three figs remaining so cut the recipe in half (dropped the extra egg white), forgot the marsala, used pecans and put them in wee mini tins. And it  turned out very well so clearly this is not an easy recipe to mess up. I particularly enjoying the whizzzzzing part.

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