Summer

Towards a new season – Tarte au chocolat with figs, blackberries and pine nuts

I woke up hearing the rain pattering slightly on the windows, as to announce timidly the start of a new season and the end of an incredibly torrid and dry Summer.
The grass in the garden burned under the blistering sun at the beginning of August, and its green soft mantle turned into a yellow hispid clearing. The golden yellow, though, seems to make the trees stand out, still green and so loaded with fruit that their branches bend under the great weight they have to bear. The pear tree arched its long branches so much that they almost touched the ground, creating a kind of natural hut. Instead, the fig tree was constantly surrounded by swarms of bees trying to suck the sweet nectar of the latest purple figs which grow on the highest branches, as if they wanted catch every ray of sun.
I spent almost the entire month of August in Paris, wearing in layers all my summer dresses I brought with me, due to an unexpected cold and rainy weather.

At the Venice train station, from where I left, the thermometer stood at 39 degrees centigrade; the one at the Gare de Lyon instead gave me a great good morning with a wonderful 14 and the illusion that Autumn had already arrived.
I have never loved the city so much. A deserted and incredibly quiet Paris, already with a bit of its autumnal charme given by the dried leaves that flew in its wide boulevards, once again it revealed to me its most authentic side and it allowed me to visit it in solitude (or almost), some places still unknown to me, such as the Atelier-Museè Gustave Moreau, of which you can see some pictures in this post.

It is with a certain amount of pride that I can call Paris one of the cities I know best, that I lived and explored far and wide, from the most popular arrondissement to the most nasty banlieue’s areas, as well as so many surrounding minor cities like Suresnes, Garches, Creteil, Sèvres, Montreuil, Marne-la-Vallèe… and others even more far from Paris.
Never as much as this time I felt at home and so well integrated in a place.
I went to visit some Parisian friends, I have been strictly avoiding the most touristic areas, I’ve walked along the back streets, I took the metro and remembered the lines without needing to look at maps and directions, I was stopped by the street several times for information (so I’ve been mistaken for a local!), I’ve read a book along Saint Martin Canal, I improvised an aperitif along the Seine, I’ve entered only for a minute at the Centre Pompidou just to scrounge the free wifi and use the toilet. In short, the true Parisian lifestyle.. things to be proud of!
I would have liked to take advantage of my days there to write a new itinerary – like this one! – but at the end I simply preferred to not plan my time, and above all to avoid using my computer too much or taking pictures all the time, even for just the fact of not having to bring my super heavy camera with me every day!
I wandered for miles, sometimes without having a definite destination. I glued my nose to the Boulangerie’s storefronts and I spent probably too much money on croissants and tartes (Tatin – au pommes – au chocolat).
I looked with blazing desire at the little boîtes de figues violette sold by the street vendors… and I guess it has been then that the idea of a tarte au chocolat and figs has began to take shape in my mind.
I realize that even my previous post talks about Paris and chocolate cake, but you know… these two things are too tempting to me, just like these dark colors and these new (but very old!) props I found at Le Marchè d’Aligre!

Sometimes I was cold, so I bought a vintage jacket at Le Marché aux puces de la porte de Montreuil, and just towards the last days I began to wish for the warm Italian sun on my skin. So went I back to my dry and yellow grass, to my generous trees, to all the things I had left to do.
It came to my mind that Saveur Blog awards just ended its voting phase and I took a bit of time to read all the adorable messages I got from you. I would thank you so much for the time you’ve dedicated to vote for The Freaky Table, but especially for writing so many lovely things and sending them my way. You always manage to make me feel special, and that’s a feeling for which I feel grateful every day.
I forgot when “the winner” will be announced, I guess the first days of October, but at the end I don’t care so much about winning. No matter how this plays out, I am happy and I will be happy in any case! I will keep you informed, anyway.
I’ve been invited to join the Awards ceremony in the city of Charleston in South Carolina, but I don’t think I can go because the flight ticket is really expensive and to say it so very frankly, I prefer to invest my money in something different, even if I am sure it will be an incredible event. Our Freaky Raku pottery studio needs some renovation, and I really want to do everything I can to support this project. I would like to add a few words on the subject #thefreakyraku ceramics, by the way.
We updated our shop with many new raku items.. and I am still in shock because we sold out almost everything in just 24 hours. Guys, I am so happy for that!! Thank you!!
You’re helping us to make our dreams come true. One step at a time.
For now, I am getting ready to watch a new season change again the colors of my garden, and to leave to come back with new stories to tell as I always do.
But first, the cake.

Tarte au chocolat with figs, blackberries and pine nuts
 
Author:
Ingredients
* Doses are for a 20 cm tart pan
For the shortcrust pastry:
  • 100 g all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cacao powder
  • 80 g icing sugar
  • 50 g butter at room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
For the cream:
  • 180 ml fresh cream
  • 70 ml milk
  • 1 egg
  • 50 gr dark chocolate 70%
  • 1 tsp icing sugar
For decorating:
  • 3 purple figs
  • 100 g blackberries (frozen or fresh))
  • 1 tbs pine nuts
Instructions
  1. Cream the butter (room temperature) and icing sugar together in a bowl until well combined, then beat the egg yolk in until fully incorporated into the mixture.
  2. Mix in the flour, the cocoa powder, ½ tsp of cinnamon and the pinch of salt until the mixture comes together as a ball of dough.
  3. Tip the pastry out onto a floured work surface and knead briefly until smooth.
  4. Wrap the pastry in cling film and chill for at least 30 minutes into the fridge.
  5. Pre-heat the oven at 180 C°.
  6. On a lightly dusted wooden surface, roll out the pastry by using a rolling pin into a 20 cm circle, about 0,5 cm in thick.
  7. Grease the tart pan and carefully roll the dough up onto the rolling pin and lay it inside the tart pan. Press lightly the dough into the pan so it fits tightly and trim off the excess hanging dough with a knife. Put the tart in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
  8. Line the tart with a parchment paper foil and add pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the foil and weights and return to the oven and continue to bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  9. Chop roughly the chocolate with a knife and keep aside.
  10. To make the filling: heat the fresh cream and milk in a pot over medium-low flame. Remove from the heat before it boils and add the chopped chocolate and the teaspoon of icing sugar and stir until melted and smooth.
  11. Beat the eggs in a small bowl until blended and add them to the chocolate mixture, stir until completely blended.
  12. Pour the filling into the cooled tart shell and bake at 120 C° degrees for 10 to 15 minutes until the filling is set and the surface is glossy. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
  13. Wash the figs and cut in half and use them to garnish the cake together with blackberries and pine nuts.

 

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