Thanksgiving Fig Tart from Top Chef

A bit of a departure from our usual Fab Frugal Friday tips and tricks, but enough people have requested this recipe from our Thanksgiving post that I thought I’d write it out; I haven’t found it anywhere online, only in the awesome Top Chef Cookbook. By the way, if Santa Claus is reading this, they actually have a brand-new sequel: the Top Chef Quickfire Book! I have been very good this year.

ANYWAY, this is the essence of Season One winner Harold Dieterle’s recipe, adapted only slightly by me. For one, I leave out the fresh figs and vanilla bean, as they’re spendy and were used only as garnish in the original recipe. If you have some fresh ones and/or a vanilla bean on hand and want to splurge, go for it. This was also mean to be an accompaniment to a cheese course, and much as I love cheese (really I do), several fancy cheeses weren’t in the budget, and didn’t really fit into a big ol’ Thanksgiving dessert buffet anyway. Finally, I substituted rice flour for wheat and it came out great, in case any celiacs or other gluten-avoiders want to give it a go. If you prefer wheat flour, by all means.


2/3 cup pine nuts
1 cup rice flour (or all purpose wheat flour)
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons room temperature unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
4 ounces dried Black Mission figs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream
4 large eggs
1 ounce fig jam (optional)

Preheat over to 350. Pulse pine nuts in food processor until coarsely ground. Add flour, one tablespoon of the sugar, and salt. Pulse again until pine nuts are more finely ground. Transfer to mixing bowl. Add butter, egg yolk, and 2 tablespoons water. Use pastry cutter to combine until mixture forms a coarse meal. Shape into a flat dic, wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

In a medium saucepan, cook the figs, remaining sugar, and vanilla with 3/4 cup water, for about 15 minutes or until figs are very soft. Transfer to a blender and add heavy cream and blend until well-combined. Add eggs and puree; set aside.

Take dough out of refrigerator and press into a 9 inch tart pan with a removable bottom, making sure to push it up the sides. Cover dough with aluminum foil and fill with dried beans or ceramic baking beads – if you don’t have anything of the sort on hand, a smaller pie pan set on top can help hold its shape too. Blind bake it for 10 minutes, then remove foil and beans/beads and bake for another 8 minutes, or until golden brown.

Fill crust with fig mixture and bake for 25-30 minutes, until filling is just barely set in the center. Cool completely on a wire rack.  Top gently with a thin layer of fig jam, if desired.


— posted by Anne


  1. says

    Thank you! I filed it away for next summer when my sister’s figs are everywhere.

    I also ordered a vegetable steamer for Christmas so I can try a few tamale recipes.

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