fig and almond tart, with orange and chocolate

I used to make almond and fruit tarts regularly when we had the cafe and thought that this year I might make one with apricots or peaches, or berries even. But the fruit and the urge never seemed to combine and the almond meal sat in the back of the fridge mocking me. Then one day about three weeks ago, I knew I had to make a tart that weekend. So I made a big batch of pastry (enough for two tarts still in the freezer) and enough almond filling for two tarts (all gone). When I went to the shop to get some peaches, well .... they were as hard as rocks and I knew in my heart that they would disappoint. But there were some figs. Gooey white figs. Cheap. So I bought more than I thought I could possibly use and me and the tart, we were on.

As I started assembling the filling, I had two brainwaves. What about some chocolate? Just a little bit. As it happened there was 70g of Lindt 70% in the fridge. Only because someone had given it to Grace and therefore I wasn't allowed to eat it all. But Grace was happy with just a piece and said I could use the rest. Then I thought, oh I know, the almond filling really needs a citrus note. Lemon would be too sharp, but orange would be good. Having no oranges in the house and reluctant to go to the shop again, I looked wistfully out the laundry window at our neighbours laden orange tree. Oranges that just fall to the ground and rot. So, I went and knocked on the door. He seemed a bit embarrassed - perhaps he'd been napping in his underwear - and said that the oranges were sour but to help myself. So I did. And they were perfect.

Indeed I think I would say that the tart was pretty close to perfect. It finished cooking just before we went to dinner in the park. Later I dashed home and collected it. We ate it all.* The kids didn't even get a look in.**

You will need

  • A good plateful of ripe figs, peeled or not according to your preference. I peeled on this occasion.
  • 1 tablespoon give or take of orange zest (no white bits) finely chopped
  • 50g dark chocolate - 70% cocoa or more, finely chopped (eg Lindt or Black and Greens)
  • 1 quantity of frangipane
  • 1 quantity of biscuit crust

To make

  • Preheat oven to 180C and grease a 28cm tart tin.
  • Line tart tin with biscuit crust. No need to roll it out. Just press it in with your fingers. Try not to make it too thick anywhere. Trim.
  • Bake (absolutely no need to bake blind) until crust starts to colour and puff up a little.
  • While tart crust is baking, prepare the frangipane. If you are using some plain frangipane from the fridge or freezer, add the orange zest and mix well.
  • Peel figs. Or not. Try not to eat too many.
  • When tart crust is ready, remove from oven and press out any really puffy bits with the back of a spoon.
  • Scatter the chopped chocolate on the base of the tart.
  • Dollop spoonfuls of frangipane in the crust.
  • Place figs on top.
  • Bake until almond filling doesn't wobble very much in the middle. Or a bit longer if you would like the tart to be very firm. I quite like a bit of goo in the middle.
  • Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes before removing from tin.
  • Delicious warm with cream. Or cold the next day when to tart would have firmed up.

* This tart was shared between 16 adults, but really there are 8-12 good serves. Between 16 the slices were a bit measly.
** But I made the kids a chocolate beetroot cake this weekend which was received with a great deal of enthusiasm. Recipe is still under development.


This is a lovely filling to use in a fruit tart. Sometime I have ground the nuts myself which makes for a more textured filling with a lovely fresh taste. Most of the time though, I use ground almonds from Hassoons, which has them in the deli section. It's important to use fresh ground nuts, not ones that have been sitting around in a supermarket for ages. As for the sugar, well white sugar gives a paler colour and is good for delicate flavours but brown sugar is nice too.

I've given quantities for one for two tarts. As the mixture keeps for a few days in the fridge or you can be frozen, I tend to make the bigger mix. Which works better in the kenwood. And means I can make another tart with half the faffing.

You will need

125g butter
150g caster or brown sugar
200g ground almonds
2 eggs
flavouring such as finely chopped orange or lemon rind, 3 tablespoons of brandy or some other liquor.

250g butter
300g caster or brown sugar
400g ground almonds
4 eggs
flavouring such as finely chopped orange or lemon rind, 6 tablespoons of brandy or some other liquor.

To make

  • Cream the butter and sugar and add any flavourings
  • Beat in the eggs
  • Mix in the ground almonds
  • Tarts filled with frangipane should be baked at 180C until the top is golden and the centre feels cooked (or nearly cooked if you don't mind a slightly gooey tart).

carrot dip

I started making this dip when we had lots and lots carrots in the vegie box. I think it's pretty nice with pide and olives. Others in the family are less enthusiastic.

carrot dip and olives

You will need

2 or 3 large carrots grated (depending on the size of your fry pan)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons of ground coriander
2 or 3 large cloves of garlic, crushed or finely chopped.
1/2 cup thick European style yoghurt, although it works fine with normal plain yoghurt
olive oil to thinly coat the pan
black pepper

To make

  • Gently cook the grated carrot in the fry pan on a low to medium heat with the olive oil and a pinch of salt until the carrots wilt and change colour.
  • Add the garlic, cumin and coriander and cook for a little longer.
  • Allow to cool (or the yoghurt will curdle in the next step).
  • Add the yoghurt and some black pepper.
  • Blend the cooled mixture with a blender or bamix.
  • Refrigerate for an hour or two before eating to let the flavours develop.