Friday, October 28, 2011

Fig-Almond Tart from Marinus Restaurant at Bernardus Lodge in Carmel Valley, California

         Andrew made this recipe not once but twice and it was big hit. He encouraged me to post it.  But for the life of me, I could not find it. I must have used every search word combination I could think of.  The truly pathetic thing is that Andrew keeps a log of everything he bakes. But that log was at the beach and we are in city most weekends this time of year.  I finally trekked out there on Monte’s Ham business and Eureka!  I found it listed in Andrew’s blue book.  Finally, I could post this wonderfully moist tart with its cake-like interior. Finally I could share its secret: Frangipane, a classic French pasty filling of almonds, eggs, butter and sugar.  At last I could give you a look at its beautiful fresh figs atop this perfect piece of pastry.  Or could I…

Marinus at Bernardus Lodge, Home of the Fig-Almond Tart
Did Pastry Chef Ben Spungin
beat up on Bon Appetit for stealing his recipe?
         Since I now knew that the recipe was from July’s Bon Appetit, I could go to and there it would be.  Which is exactly what I did.  Except for whatever reason, Bon Appetit didn’t include it in its recipe base.  It just isn’t there. Perhaps the RSVP (Reader’s Favorite Restaurant Recipes) editor had run amok with the creator of this lovely dish.  Perhaps Ben Spungin, Pastry Chef at Marinus had come after them with his rolling pin.  Regardless, by getting down on all fours, I was able to pull Bon Appetit’s July 2011 edition out from its resting place on the bottom shelf of our cookbook library.  Andrew is so good at reporting he’d even put the page number in his little book.  Turning, as instructed, to page 16, I gasped.  There was no page 16. It had been torn from the magazine.  I thought this is it.
         Then it occurred to me that in addition to the hundred or so hardcover baking books we keep, there’s also a looseleaf binder for those recipes that have been torn from the Times or found somewhere outside the 8 food magazines we subscribe to.  Finally, tucked into the binder, I found the recipe.   And because our market is still full of fresh figs, I wanted to share it with you.  After all, I went to a lot of trouble to find it.  Here it is:

Recipe for Fig-Almond Tart from Marinus Restaurant at Bernardus Lodge in Carmel Valley, California

For the Crust:
1 large egg yolk
1 tbsp. heavy cream
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour plus more for rolling
6 tbsp. sugar
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, diced.

Spanish Monks who settled the California coast
grew the first Mission Figs.  But you can substitute
any fresh fish figs.
For the Filling:
¾ cup of Half and Half
¼ cup plus 2/3 cup sugar, divided.
3 large eggs
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups slivered almonds
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
12 oz. fresh Mission figs (about 12 medium), stemmed and halved.

Use a 10 inch diameter tart pan with a removeable bottom

First make the crust:
Whisk egg yolk and cream in a small bowl.  Mix 1 1/3 cups flour, sugar and salt in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
Add 1 cup of butter; mix on low speed until coarse meal forms.  Add egg mixture. Blend just until moist clumps form.  Gather into a ball, flatten into a disk, wrap the disk in plastic and chill for one hour.

Butter the tart pan. Roll out the dough to 13 inch round on a lightly-floured surface.  Transfer to tart pan.  Press onto bottom and up sides. Trim excess dough. Chill 30 minutes.

Make the filling while the dough chills:
Bring the half and half to a simmer in a small saucepan.
Whisk ¼ cup of sugar, 1 egg and flour in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in the warm half and half. Return to saucepan. Whisk constantly over medium heat until mixture thickens and boils, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl. Stir in vanilla. Set over a bowl of ice water. Stir what is now pastry cream until cold.  Remove from ice bath. Set aside.
Finely grind the almonds with 1/3 cup of sugar in a food processor fitted with the metal blade.  Do not grind the almond sugar mixture into a paste. 
Using an electric mixer, beat butter and remaining 1/3 cup of sugar in a large bowl until smooth. Add 2 eggs, 1 at a time, beating well between additions. Gradually beat in almond mixture, then 1/3 cup reserved pastry cream. (Reserve the remaining pastry cream for another use) Cover; chill until firm, about 4 hours.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Spread the filling over the crust.  Arrange the figs, cut side up, in concentric circles over the filling.  Place the tart on a rimmed baking sheet.  Bake until the filling in the center is golden and set, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Let tart cool completely in pan on a wire rack.  Serves 8.


  1. First of all, you are forgiven for becoming a hoarder and possibly losing this recipe. Secondly, thank goodness for Andrew's blue book.. You two are just so neat, I can totally see this whole searching scenario.. The Tart, well, I now understand why the frenzy.. Beautiful, and thanks for the extra effort, this did indeed need to be put up on MY RSVP list..

  2. Dear Ana, This one is really good and I'm sure your local Mission Figs are flawless right about now. Enjoy!