Friday, October 23, 2009

Huckleberry-Fig Crumble Tart


My absolute favorite type of dessert is one made with ripe, seasonal fruit, hot from the oven, with a buttery flakey crust or topping and a big scoop of melting ice cream. For this reason, nothing beats a fruit crisp for ease, speed and sweet tooth satisfaction. Nothing, except maybe that same, gooey, buttery fruit crisp contained within a tidy, crispy tart shell.


I adapted this recipe from one I clipped from Gourmet a couple years ago. While it may look complicated and time consuming, it is delightfully simple to make and comes together quickly and efficiently; just the sort of recipe I like. You make the beginnings of a pie dough, then set aside a portion of the butter-flour mixture to which you add sugar for the crumble topping. Roll out the dough, toss the fruit with cornstarch and sugar, lay it in the unbaked shell, then crumble the topping over. Stick it in the oven and forget about it for a while (I recommend rewarding your hard labor with a glass of wine), and you've got yourself an impressive and swoon-worthy dessert.


The beauty of this recipe is that it can be adapted to use any fruit you like throughout the seasons. I decided to add lemon juice to the fruit in order to complement the figs and huckles, but you could add 1/4 teaspoon or so of cinnamon, nutmeg or cardamom, or use orange zest or vanilla bean seeds. The original recipe called for nuts in the topping, but I omitted them this time; oats would work well, too. A few nice combinations might be:

Strawberry- or raspberry-rhubarb, oats in topping, fresh ginger ice cream
Cherry-apricot, almonds in topping, noyaux ice cream
Plums with oats, honey ice cream
Peaches with almonds, lemon verbena ice cream
Mixed berries with creme fraiche ice cream
Blueberries with lavender ice cream
Apple blackberry with cinnamon in topping, vanilla ice cream
Pears with pecan topping, cardamom ice cream
Poached quince with rose geranium ice cream
(See the end of the recipe for a variation with rhubarb, berries and cardamom)

With the abundance of sliced figs and bags of huckleberries in my freezer, this tart all but made itself. A scoop of fig leaf ice cream finished it off nicely, and I still had enough energy afterwards to watch the Daily Show while enjoying a slice.

Crazy for Crumbles:
Berry Crumble Pie with Sour Cream Ice Cream
Strawberry Rhubarb Crème Fraîche Pie with Cardamom Crumble
Cranberry Apple Crumble Pie

Huckleberry-Fig Crumble Tart

Adapted from Gourmet

My favorite thing about this recipe is that the fruit and topping go into an un-baked crust - yay! I made this in an 8" tart pan, but I think a 9" pan would work fine, as well. See below for a Rhubarb Berry variation with Cardamom Oat Crumble.  

Makes one 8 or 9" tart, 8ish servings

Tart crust and crumble:
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (6 oz.) unsalted butter, cold, diced
ice water, as needed
1/3 cup sugar
(opt: 1/3 cup rolled oats or finely chopped nuts of your choice, zest of 1 lemon, or 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg or cardamom)

Fruity Filling:
4 cups fruit (such as 3 1/2 cups sliced fresh figs and 1/2 cup huckleberries)
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch or tapioca flour
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt

Crust:
Combine the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Add the butter and work with your fingers until some pea-sized chunks remain. Measure out 1 1/2 cups of the mixture into another medium bowl and set aside. To the original bowl, drizzle in the ice water slowly, tossing with your fingers or a rubber spatula, until the dough just starts to come together when you give it a squeeze. Gather into a ball, flatten into a disc, slip into a plastic bag and chill for 1 hour, until firm.

Crumble:
Meanwhile, add the sugar to the 1 1/2 cups of the mixture, and any other flavorings, nuts, and/or oats. Rub with your fingers until some large clumps form. Leave at room temperature. (Or chill if making the tart later.)

Preheat the oven to 375º. Position an oven rack on the lowest position. If you have a baking stone, place in on the rack.

Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface into a 10" round, a scant 1/4" thick. Ease it into an 8 or 9" tart pan with a removable bottom, trim the edges to a 1" overhang and fold over, pressing the sides even. Freeze 20 minutes.

Filling:
Toss the fruit in a bowl with the sugar, cornstarch, juice and salt to combine thoroughly. Turn into the unbaked tart shell and spread even; it may mound slightly in the center. Crumble the topping evenly over the fruit. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment (for easy cleanup), and place in the oven, on the stone.

Bake about 1 hour, rotating once, until the fruit is bubbling thickly, and the crisp topping and tart shell are nicely browned. Remove from the oven. Let cool at least 20 minutes. Remove sides and slide the tart onto a cutting board or serving platter. Slice and serve with ice cream, whipped cream or creme fraiche.

Variation: Rhubarb Berry Tart with Cardamom Oat Crumble
Add 1/3 cup quick (baby) oats and 1/2-3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom to the crumble topping. For the fruit, use 1 1/2 cups rhubarb cut into 1/2" dice, 1 1/2 cups blueberries, and 1 cup raspberries. Increase the sugar in the filling to 1/3 cup. Serve the tart with vanilla ice cream.

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