A Cornish girl's food adventures

Fig, orange and cardamom tarts

I’ve been coveting my neighbours fig tree. It’s steadily ripening fruit keeps peeking over the fence and flirting with me! I’m always amazed when I see fig trees in the UK adorned with fruit. I always associate them with much warmer climates, like my friends family home in France where we once stayed, picking figs in the morning to devour for breakfast with creamy yoghurt and gooey goats cheese.
I love these rustic little tarts with their crisp pastry shells, delicately flavoured with cardamom, thick, creamy orange infused custard filling and sweet, perfectly ripe figs. They might not be the prettiest but they certainly are tasty.
I used some pastel de nata tins for these but you could improvise with a cupcake tin, just make sure that it’s well greased.

makes about 8, depending on size
100g plain flour
25g icing sugar
10g cornflour
seeds of six green cardomon pods, crushed in a pestle and mortar
50g butter
1 egg yolk
splash of cold water
200ml whole milk
2 egg yolks
40g sugar
20g cornflour
zest of one orange
2-3 plump, ripe figs

Whisk together the dry ingredients for the pastry before rubbing in the butter with you fingertips. Add the egg yolk and use this to bring everything together to form a soft dough. Use a little cold water too if you need a little more moisture. Alternatively you can do all of this in a food processor to speed things up a bit. Wrap the dough in cling film and pop it in the fridge to chill and relax for 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 180°c and grease your tart tins. Roll the pastry out quite thinly and use a pastry cutter to cut out circle and line the tins. Press the dough well into the tins, prick the bases with a fork and cover them with a little baking parchment and some baking beans ready for blind baking. Bake for 20 minutes before removing the baking beans and baking for a further 10 minutes to become golden. Leave to cool in the tins.

To make the creme patissiere heat the milk in small saucepan. Whisk the egg yolks, cornflour, sugar and orange zest in a mixing bowl until they are thick and pale. Carefully pour the warm milk into this is steady stream whilst whisking to keep the eggs moving so that you temper them and they don’t scramble.
Clean out the pan and return the custard to it and put it over a low light. Gently heat, stirring constantly until it becomes really thick. Spoon this into the pastry cases and leave to cool. Decorate each one with a piece of fresh fig before to enjoying.

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