With the abundance of fresh fruit, from apricots to strawberries, summer is my favorite time of the year. I get to bake delicious fruit-filled treats and this year I'm adding fresh figs to the mix with this scrumptious fresh Fig and Cherry Pistachio Tart. This tart has layers of goodness - a nutty pistachio tart crust, a homemade cherry jam, a creamy mascarpone pastry cream, and delicious sweet California figs to top the whole thing.
The California Grown fig season is just starting so this is the perfect time to make this delicious tart. Fresh figs are available May - November and dried figs year around. Check out this colorful seasonal guide from California Grown to learn more about what is available throughout the year. This beautiful guide illustrates when various fruits and vegetables are available. And since cherries and figs are available at the same time I combined them into this delicious tart.
10 Things to Know About Figs
Figs are nature's perfect food. Eating one-half cup of figs has as much calcium as drinking one-half cup of milk. And ounce for ounce figs have more fiber than prunes and more potassium than bananas, so eat to your heart's content.
Figs are 55% sugar, making them the highest of all fruit. This sweetness is one of the reasons figs are a great topping for these delicious tarts, but the sugar content also means figs are great in baked goods because they help them stay moist and fresh-tasting longer. You can also replace part of the fat in baked goods with pureed figs.
There are five varieties of fresh fig:
- Brown Turkey
I used the beautiful dark purple, sweet Mission figs, which are the most common, for this recipe. I like knowing where my food comes from and while working on this recipe I learned that California produces 98% of fresh figs and 100% of dried figs. For those of you in the United States here is the Where Is It Grown guide to figure out where your produce comes from.
The Spaniards introduced Mission Figs to the California territory in the early 16th century; and priests at Mission San Diego originally planted figs in California in 1769. This is how the dark purple fig became known as “Mission.”
Figs made their first commercial product appearance with the 1892 introduction of Fig Newtons cookies. If your childhood was similar to mine that's how you were first introduced to figs, in the form of a cookie. Now, as an adult, I love fresh figs and am excited to share this dessert.
How to Make the Fig Cherry Pistachio Tart
This beautiful Fig Cherry Pistachio Tart has four components:
- Fresh Mission Figs
- Homemade Cherry Jam
- Mascarpone Pastry Cream
- Pistachio Tart Crust
When you combine all four it tastes like cherry ice cream topped with sweet figs with the added crunch of pistachios. Read on about how to make all these delicious components. Please note that all the components of this tart except the tart should be refrigerated the tarts are assembled.
How to Make the Homemade Cherry Jam
The homemade cherry jam is made with three ingredients: fresh cherries, sugar, and lemon juice. When fresh cherries are in season I can't get enough and cherry jam is the perfect way to make them last longer. What if I told you that you don't need a recipe to make this quick cherry jam? Below I describe the steps to make a sweet slightly tart jam and if you remember the ratios you will be golden.
This recipe makes 2 cups of jam (about 1 cup per pound of cherries), assuming that you'll want some later for biscuits or ice cream. Start with 2 pounds of cherries, wash them, remove the stems, and pit them.
Roughly chop about 3/4 of the cherries and leave the rest whole to have nice chunks of cherry in the final jam. Put the cherries, along with 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice and 1/4 cup of water in a 4-5 quart nonreactive saucepan. The lemon juice adds a nice tart flavor and helps the jam jell.
Bring the cherries to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and stir occasionally until the fruit is soft, about 15-20 minutes. Measure the amount of cooked cherries and juice and add 1/2 the amount of sugar. So if you have 3 cups of fruit, add 1 1/2 cups of sugar. Stir the cherries and sugar in the pot and cook on medium-high heat. Stir the fruit often to keep it from scorching. Do not leave the pot unattended.
The fruit will begin the gel and thicken as it cooks. To test it if is done, remove the saucepan from the heat, place a tablespoon of the juice on a small plate and stick in the freezer for 5 minutes. When you remove it, the jam should be thick and slowly move when you tilt the plate. If it is still runny, cook the jam for another 10 minutes.
Ladle the jam into heatproof containers when it is done, cool it to room temperature, and refrigerate until ready to assemble the tarts.
How to Make the Mascarpone Pastry Cream
Pastry cream is one of those desserts that is easy to make, but easy to mess up too. It is made with 5 basic ingredients:
- Whole Milk
- Unsalted Butter
- Egg Yolks
- Cornstarch and Flour
To these ingredients, I add mascarpone for flavor and extra richness and fresh vanilla bean to punch up the vanilla flavor.
Pastry cream is typically made by tempering the eggs with the warm milk to slowly heat up the eggs without scrambling them. This step is most often where the recipe can go wrong. If the milk is added to fast to the eggs, the eggs will be scrambled.
I have simplified the recipe, by cooking everything together. Whisk the eggs with the sugar until lighter in color and then whisk in the dry ingredients. Add the milk, vanilla beans, and egg mixture to a 3-quart non-reactive saucepan and cook over medium heat until the pastry cream starts to boil and is thick and creamy.
Immediately refrigerate the pastry cream after mixing with the mascarpone cheese. Immediate refrigeration is required to keep bacteria from forming. Refrigerate the pastry cream until you're ready to make the tarts.
Assembling the Tarts
To assemble the tart remove all the ingredients from the refrigerator. Place 1/4 cup of the cherry jam in the bottom of the tart shell, top with a portion of the mascarpone pastry cream. Cut the figs half or quarters depending on their size and arrange them on top of the tart. The more figs the merrier.
The tarts are best the day they are assembled, but will be okay up to one day in the refrigerator.
Definitely make this tart to take advantage of the abundance fresh California figs - they're delicious and scrumptious. If you make it I hope you post a picture. And if you want be notified of the latest recipes at Bakes by Brown Sugar sign up for my baking newsletter.
This post was proudly made in partnership with California Grown. All opinions are my own. I am so happy to partner with California Grown share with the joys of California grown food. Thank you for supporting me and the farmers and producers of California Grown food.
Fig and Cherry Pistachio Tarts
- 6-8 large Mission Figs (500 grams)
- 2 pounds (900 grams) pitted sweet cherries
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
Mascarpone Pastry Cream
- 1 tablespoon (10 grams) cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon (10 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup (63 grams) granulated sugar
- 3 (60 grams) egg yolks
- 1 cup (242 grams) whole milk
- 1/2 vanilla bean
- 2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter
- 4 ounces (114 grams) mascarpone cheese room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups (177 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup (32 grams) shelled roasted unsalted pistachios
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/3 cup (63 grams) granulated sugar
- 10 tablespoons (142 grams) unsalted butter, melted
- Fresh figs are delicious, but highly perishable. Buy the figs right before you make this dessert and store them in the refrigerator until you are ready to use.
- When you're ready to assemble the tarts, cut the figs in quarters and arrange them on top of the pastry cream.
Quick Cherry Jam
- Rough chop 3/4 of the cherries, leave the rest whole. Add the cherries, water and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to a 4 quart saucepan. Bring to boil, reduce the heat to medium high and continue to cook the fruit until it is soft, about 18 minutes.
- Measure the fruit in a glass measure cup (make note of the amount). Add the cherries, half the amount of sugar, and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice back to the same saucepan. So if you have 3 cups of cherries, add 1-1/2 cups of sugar. but adjust the amount of sugar based on the amount of cooked cherries that you have. Bring the mixture back to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook until the mixture is reduced by half. Stir the jam, scraping the bottom to prevent it from sticking and burning.
- Scrape the completed jam into a heat-proof container and cool to room temperature. You should have about 2 cups of jam. Store the jam in refrigerator until ready assemble the tart.
Mascarpone Pastry Cream
- Line a pie plate with plastic wrap and set aside.
- Sift the flour and cornstarch together onto a piece of wax paper. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean using a sharp knife and add them to the whole milk.
- Put the mascarpone in a large bowl and place a fine mesh strainer over the bowl. Place this bowl next to the stove.
- In the a 3-quart saucepan add the 3 egg yolks and sugar and whisk until the ingredients are thoroughly combined and the eggs are lighter in color. Add the dry ingredients and whisk vigorously to incorporate. Add the whole milk-vanilla bean mixture and whisk to combine all the ingredients.
- Place the pan over medium heat and continue to whisk the mixture, making sure to whisk everywhere - the bottom and the bottom edges, so the mixture does not burn. As soon as the mixture becomes slightly thick, remove the pan from the heat and whisk for about 30 seconds. Return the pan to the heat, bring to a boil and continue to whisk for 1 minute.
- Immediately remove it from the heat, pour it over the mascarpone and use a spatula to combine the ingredients. Scrape the mixture into the plastic-lined pie plate. Cover the pastry cream with plastic, press the plastic into the pastry cream and refrigerate.
For the Crust
- Adjust 1 oven rack to the middle position in the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- For this recipe you will need four 4-inch mini-tart tins
- Combine the flour, sugar, and pistachios in the bowl of a food processor and process until the pistachios are fine with just a few large pieces remaining. Pour the dry ingredients into a bowl and whisk in the salt. Add melted butter and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until a dough forms and no bits of flour remain. Divide the dough into 4 equal portions (about 90 grams each). Using your hands, press the dough into each mini-tart pans, starting with the bottom and pressing it up the sides. Press and smooth dough with your hands to even thickness.
- Place the mini-tart pans on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet and bake on the middle rack, until the crust is deep golden brown and firm to touch, 20 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Cool the tarts for 10 minutes in the tart tin and them remove and allow to cool to room temperature.
Assemble the Fig Cherry Tart
- Before starting, remove the mascarpone pastry cream, figs, and the cherry jam from the refrigerator.
- Fill each tart crust with 1/4 of the cherry jam. Top the jam with 4-5 tablespoons of the pastry then top the pastry cream with the fresh figs which have been cut in halves or quarters. Sprinkle chopped pistachios on top. The tarts are best the day that they are made, but can be served the next day.