Monday, April 16, 2007

Fig mini-basket (tartlet)

The Chinese name of fig (back translation: fruit from no flower) intrigued me. If it's the case, no flower, no pollination, how to produce fruit and seed? So I looked up on Internet. '... A fig "fruit" is derived from a specially adapted type of inflorescence (structural arrangement of flowers). What is commonly called the "fruit" of a fig is actually a specialized structure- or accessory fruit- called a syconium: an involute (nearly closed) receptacle with many small flowers arranged on the inner surface. Thus the actual flowers of the fig are unseen unless the fig is cut open. The syconium often has a bulbous shape with a small opening (the ostiole) at the distal end that allows access by pollinators. The flowers are pollinated by very small wasps that crawl through the opening in search of a suitable place to reproduce (lay eggs).... Technically, a fig fruit would be one of many mature, seed-bearing flowers found inside one fig.' (source from Wikipedia). So here we see the flower power -- fig's flowers provide a safe haven and nourishment for the next generation of wasps, in return the wasps provide pollinator service so fig trees can reproduce by seed.

Fig in dessert is always my favorite, I particularly like Sicilian filled-cookies, cucidati. From there I got my idea for these fig tartlets. This is my contribution to Sugar High Friday #30, this month of SHF is hosted by our gorgeous Monisha over Coconut Chutney.

Recipe: (yield 10 mini tartlets)
  • 1 semolina crust recipe
  • 6 dried figs
  • 3 Tbps raisins
  • 3 Tbps almond flakes
  • 1 -2 Tbps candied orange peel
  • 1 Tbp mini chocolate chips
  • 1 cup orange juice (optional)


  • Lightly grease mini-tart pan. Roll dough to 1/8"-thick. Use a 2.5"-dia cookie-cutter to cut out 10 circles, arrange them into the tart pan. Wrap them up and the left-over dough chill in the fridge.
  • If the figs are too dried, bring the orange juice (in a small pot) to boil, simmer the figs (cover) for 15 minutes or so, turn the heat off, let it soak (lid still on) until they look soften enough for you. Drain. Preheat oven 375F.
  • Finely chopped the figs, combine with raisins, candied orange, almond flakes and chocolate chips. Spoon the filling into the tart shells. Cut more fine strips from the left-over dough and use them to decorate the tarts.
  • Bake tartlets for 15 - 20 minutes or until the shells slightly golden brown.

My note:

  • My baskets' handle and base have two different brown tones. The reason is, my tart shells were sitting on dark-coated pan which absorbs heat faster in hot oven, so the tarts' bottom browns up easier. If you don't want it happen, but also don't have a light-colored pan, you can wrap the pan's bottom with a piece of foil as its silvery color will reflect some heat out.



Lis said...

I had no idea about all that information on figs! Thanks!

Your little baskets are just adorable and way yummy looking =))

I just bought some fig with orange paste.. I can't wait to use it!


FH said...

Thanks for the info about figs.I don't use it often.

Your desserts are really works of art Gattina.Looks very elegant!:))

Mishmash ! said...

You re not done with tartlets isn't it :) U really enjoy desserts and I wish I had a friend like u as my next door neighbour ;)

Brilynn said...

What a clever interpretation of the SHF theme! Well done!

Anonymous said...

gattina, you have some brilliant dessert recipes. never worked with figs. tarts looks fabulous.

Anonymous said...

I have figs in my kitchen waiting to be cooked...I know now what its gonna be...

beautiful presentation gattina..and these little baskets look delicious..

Also, thanxs for that information on fig..I didnt know about figs so much till now :-)

Anh said...

Your tarts are always beautiful! The information about fig is interesting. I just read something about how abundant figs are in Italy, and of course some brief descriptions of things you can do with them. Your tarts are one of the excellent ways! :D

Nabeela said...

oh wow, who woulad have thought fig was actually a flower? Lovely tartlets by the way

Anonymous said...

Oh these are so cute!! And I never knew that about figs - I'll never look at the same way though, can you imagine biting into a fresh fig only to discover a wasp? Ouch! :P

Gattina Cheung said...

Lis, I haven't seen orange paste... please let me know when you use it, as I want to see what it looks/tastes like. Last week I saw Sicilican lemon sauce, should have grabbed it that time...

Asha, I used to snack on dried fig before I knew anything about baking. I think I seen somewhere talking about fig considered as sacred, it should be a very special kind?

Shn, it will be my honor to have an artistic gal be my next door too!

Brilynn, thanks sweetie!

Reena, I love figs, fresh or dried, in salad or in baked goods!

Sushma, I was very amased after I looked up the fact too! Thanks for your compliment *hug*

Anh, right, we should see tons of fresh fig recipes appear in Italian magazines a few months later. The fresh figs are over-priced in my area, and I don't fancy them too much (the sour-grape note in me...:P) Thanks for your kind words sweetie!

Nabeela, me niether! Quite amasing eh.

Ellie, *ouch ... yuck... puke... 911!!! * Isn't it terrible?! Oh no, I guess the ones ready to harvest must be before the stage of pollination.

aminah said...

I am going to try and follow your advice on baking cause pastries have never been easy for me...lovely blog!! Those baskets are soo sweet.

Warda said...

Thanks for the informations on my favorite fruit. My grand mother used to have a fig tree in her back yard. What can I say Gattina, I just love your tartelettes. You always seem to know how to dress them.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

These tarts are little jewels -- they remind me of crowns! Thanks for the very informative post about figs, too.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Gattina, what a lesson on figs, very interesting!

I love figs but have never cooked with them. These are so delicate and delicious, your mini food is very posh!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

I'm with you--I love figs in dessert, and I love them in savory dishes as well. I was expecting the recipe to be more difficult, but it seems do-able. (Those sound like famous last words from this non-baker.) :) Yours are gorgeous, and I'm sure they were scrumptious.

Freya said...

The fig information was fascinating! I think there'll be more fig entries now for SHF!!
The little baskets are so cute!

Unknown said...

Thanks pal for the info on figs, I learn smthing new today! And can I have one...maybe two of the petite baskets..please? *wink*

Anonymous said...

Who knew that figs were actually a kind of internalized flower, isn't food blogging educational ?! Thanks for participating Gattina, your tartlets looks delicious and flaky!

Seema Bhat said...

As always lovely presentation ..beautiful picture and good information of fig. You have an artist inside you gattina. You come up with beautiful and creativity every time.

sher said...

Oh my gosh!!! Is that the cutest thing ever? I can't believe how you always come up with these fabulous ideas. I think these would be so wonderful for a tea party. But, they are even more wonderful for my stomach! Yes, I'll put quite a few there. :)

Anonymous said...

I love figs, they are a comfort food for me. And that's just what I'm in the mood for right now...comfort food fig tarts and a tea. Thanks for the inspiration Gattina.

Callipygia said...

Really can we have a tea party- I do love X-cookies which are fun too, but I like the "chapeau" on these tarts esp. with the sugary pom-pom. You rock-

Anonymous said...

Between these and your amaretti/fig tarts, I am in heaven! These are fantastic!

Delphine Arita said...

WOW! I have checked your BLOG a few times and am always so impressive with you. Are you a Professional Chef by any chance?

Saffron said...

Darling, I really like fig and I appreciate your "study" about this fruit!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

These are fantastically beautiful...just perfect! I am blown away.

Passionate Eater said...

It is so interesting to read about the different fruits and their unique ways of proliferating, like pomegranates and pineapples. You can just plant the top of a pineapple in the ground without seed! And of course, you eat the pomegranate seeds. I had no idea about figs! Thanks for the great lesson and recipe!

Gattina Cheung said...

Aminah, it took me quite a time of practice before I can accomplish. I am sure you can do it too! Lovely to have you drop by!

Rose, thanks for your compliment! Tartlets are just adorable by themselves, aren't they?

Lydia, seriously, after seeing your kind words, I am thinking to change its name to "crown". Beautiful suggestion!

Pat, oh it's very sweet of you! I always loved to eat dried figs (fresh one not available in my home country). Basically, I love all kind of dried fruit :D

Susan, from a gal (you!) who has done hundreds of pizza and calzone, you are way to humble to say that, hehee.

Freya, thanks darling! Yes, the fact really amases me :D

Angie, be my guest, my buddy!

Monisha, will see you at the round-up! You will be a fab host!

Seema, oh I am so flattered! You make my day *hug*

Sher, thanks for your sweet words!

Windwhisperer, I actually prefer dried fig to the fresh. But the dried one can't be too dry... oh i am so anal!

Calli, now I am scribbing down on my note pad ... X cookies from Calli, can I also add your mole sauce and sumo rice? :P

Chris, thanks sweetie!

Del, thanks for dropping by! Oh I take your question as compliment, but I am not a chef :D

Saffron *baci*

Tanna, you are so sweet!

Passinate eater, is it that easy for pineapple?! I will do so, not kidding!

Lien said...

These are truly beautiful!!
I love figs a lot

Anita said...

Such an interesting post - and your creations are always so gorgeous! I love figs and the tartlets look irresistible!

Rachel Medanic said...

How COOL. I was watching the lemon flowers become lemons but this is truly even more fascinating.