Sunday, 23 September 2012

Honeyed Fig & Goats Cheese Tarts with Walnuts & Chocolate Balsamic Sauce

When I first started this blog, I envisioned creating a number of savoury recipes using chocolate, but somehow my sweet tooth got the better of me and not many savoury dishes have in fact appeared. So when I made contact with a certain talented and loquacious goat called Ethel (how many goats do you know on Twitter?), I bucked my ideas up. Ethel kindly invited me to join in the #CapricornChallenge and I was delighted. The idea is to come up with an exciting recipe or three using Capricorn Cheese and a number of ingredients provided as inspiraton. There is no rule to say that the results have to be savoury, but I wanted to expand my culinary horizons.

Goats and I go back a long way. When I was a child I spent many a happy week on a remote Cornish smallholding where I went to bed by candlelight and drew water from the well. As well as feeding the steaming pot of mash from the range to the chickens and moving the sheep from field to field, I spent much of my time with the goats. Taking Starlight and Moonlight out each day to keep the brambles down was one of my duties as was collecting branches from the hedgerows to feed them with. Sadly my attempts at milking were less than successful, but I did get to drink a lot of goat's milk and try my first ever goats cheese. I also learnt that the front end of a goat can be somewhat dangerous; on occasion Moonlight took exception to being moved around and would butt to get her point across.

I'm sure Ethel is much better behaved. She must be because a hamper filled with good things including some of her own wonderful cheese duly arrived from her home in Somerset, over the border in England. Plenty of ideas immediately sprang to mind. Some friends were the unsuspecting guinea pigs for one of those ideas: a Mediterranean inspired creation which I turned into a starter. This would also work well as a light lunch. To give the starter its chocolate hit, I started by making some chocolate balsamic vinegar.

This is what I did to serve four as a starter:

Spiced Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar
  • Dry fried 1/2 tsp cumin seeds in a small saucepan for a few minutes until a delicious warm aroma arose.
  • Poured in 100ml of a good quality balsamic vinegar.
  • Added 25g caster sugar and stirred until the sugar had dissolved.
  • Simmered mixture for a couple of minutes.
  • Poured over 25g of 70% dark chocolate (G&B) and stirred together until melted.
  • Poured into a bottle, left to cool then capped.
Honeyed Fig & Goat's Cheese Tarts with Walnuts and Thyme
  • Rolled half a block of all butter puff pastry into a 9" square then cut into four square pieces.
  • Placed these onto a lined baking tray.
  • Cut a cross into four fresh figs, cutting to about 3/4 of the way down.
  • Placed a fig on each square of pastry.
  • Scattered a sprig of thyme over each one.
  • Cut 50g Capricorn Goats Cheese into eight pieces and stuffed the centre of the figs with two pieces each.
  • Drizzled each fig with 1/2 tsp honey. 
  • Scattered a few chopped walnuts over the top.
  • Baked in the oven for 10 minutes at 200C until the pastry was risen and golden, the cheese had melted and the walnuts had toasted.
  • Drizzled with the chocolate balsamic.
  • Placed onto 4 plates and served immediately.
Everyone was really impressed with these tarts, both with the looks and the taste. Sadly their appearance was not captured very well on camera. The sweet sticky figs complemented the salty melted cheese and the crunch of walnuts added another dimension to the texture. The flavour of thyme completed the Mediterranean feel. The chocolate balsamic was the crowning glory and brought out the flavours of everything else as well as making its own distinct contribution: rich, fruity and chocolatey with the sour vinegar cutting through both the cheese and sweet figs.  These worked particularly well for a dinner party as they were quick and easy to make, but looked and tasted rather classy.

If I'm lucky, one of my recipes might get picked as a #CapricornChallenge finalist which gets my recipe included in the Capricorn Kitchen.

As thyme was an important constituent of these tarts, I'm including them in Herbs on Saturday - a lovely challenge run by Karen of Lavender and Lovage. As I don't use herbs in my chocolate creations very often, I don't get the chance to enter very often either.

Although I've already entered this month's One Ingredient with my figgy flapjacks, I used dried figs. However they are nothing like fresh figs, so I am entering this one too. Laura of How to Cook Good Food and Working London Mummy alternate hosting this monthly challenge.

Figs are in full season right now, so I am also entering this into Simple & in Season, hosted this month by Katie Bryson of Feeding Boys and a Firefighter. This monthly challenge is the brainchild of Ren of Fabulicious Food.

46 comments:

  1. That is totally wonderful! I love goats cheese very much and this tart sounds lovely ... so is the post.

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    1. Thanks Chris. It's so good to see goats cheese gaining in popularity.

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  2. I really like the idea of putting cumin into the chocolate balsamic! I've only made it plain before.

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    1. I think I saw chocolate and cumin paired by Paul A Young somewhere and thought it would be a good addition.

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  3. I am happy to se you making savoury dishes such as this tart because I know you can cook and you always are very creative with your ingredients. This sounds fantastic to me and I know Ethel will be so impressed too!
    The Capricorn challenge has had some fairly amazing recipes so far and I hope you get picked.
    Thanks again for entering One Ingredient xxxx

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    1. Thank you Laura, that's very good of you to say so. I know Ethel likes chocolate cake, but have yet to find out if she likes it in savoury dishes. It's fun to try cooking a few different things.

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  4. this tart is lovely. Figs are so nice although I find them a bit on the expensive side in England. This is when I think they are so cheap and in Italy. They are easy to grow but difficult to transport and they go off very quickly. That's why they are expensive. Anyway they are such a treat.
    I love the combo goats cheese and figs. Well done Choclette!

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    1. Thanks Alida. Plucking a warm fig ripe from a tree is sensational, but I haven't managed to do that too often in England. It must have been wonderful growing up with a plentiful supply of figs.

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  5. I love the sound of chocolate balsamic vinegar, I've never come across that before and I'm definitely going to have to try it. The combination of honey, goats cheese, figs and walnuts is definitely a winner in my eyes!

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    1. Thanks Jen. Do give chocolate balsamic a try. I think it would be good added to all sorts of things.

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  6. This sounds fascinating! I look forward to more of your savoury creations - chocolate for dinner is so interesting and fun!

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    1. Thanks Johanna. I've made one other so far which was good and have another planned for next week.

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  7. This looks delicous, and the photography works for me - the picture sold it for me! Must try these asap.

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    1. Thanks Janine - you can visit again ;-)

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  8. Oh gosh this sounds really nice. I love every single ingredients you've put in. I've bookmarked this : )

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    1. Thanks Vanessa, these are so worth making.

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  9. This sounds like a winner to me. I'm sure Ethel would be impressed! I love how creative you've been especially with the chocolate balsamic vinegar - yum!

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    1. I do hope she will be Ros. I was quite impressed with the chocolate balsamic.

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  10. They sound really interesting. I do like the sound of the chocolate balsamic and the combo of cheese and figs is always popular. Must try it.

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    1. It was a great combination C, although I guess you'd need to leave out the walnuts.

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  11. They look delicious and I love the rustic appearance. Makes me want to reach in and eat one. I love the combination of fig and goats cheese. Yum

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    1. Thanks Katie, they looked less rustic in real life than they do in the picture. My photography skills need a lot of improvement.

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  12. Amazing recipe, full of ingredients that I love. So orginal too. I'm sure Ethel will be thrilled!

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    1. Thanks Fleur, it's a recipe I shall be using again for sure, although next time I'd like to make my own pastry too.

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  13. Mmmmmmm. Good work. I really want to try this.

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  14. I love figs and goat cheese as alternative to the usual figs and Gorgonzola, I'm sure that it works quite well! I love the dressing with a hint of chocolate! I welcome savoury dishes made with chocolate! Well done Choclette!

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    1. Thank you Rita, I shall try and construct some more then. I must say I like the sound of figs and blue cheese.

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  15. The tarts sound really good. You've inspired me to be more creative with my ingredient combinations. I'll wager these were delicious. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings...Mary

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    1. Thank you Mary. I think I'd have a long way to go to get as creative as you in the kitchen.

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  16. Oh my goodness that Chocolate balsamic sound fantastic. Good luck with the comp, you will be in good company if you get into the finals ;-)

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  17. I've got hold of some excellent Turkish figs this year and this tart sounds an excellent way to eat some more. The chocolate balsamic is a masterstroke.

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    1. Thanks Phil, Turkish figs sound just the thing for this tart.

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  18. Love it. I am still to try a fresh fig and a savory version using chocolate too sounds like a pretty interesting place to start.

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    1. Chele, I can't believe you've never eaten a fresh fig before - go get em girl!

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  19. The combo is just waiting to be tried! I love the twist on this classic pairing and I bet the chocolate really complimented both the figs and the goats cheese. Adorable.

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    1. Thanks Dom, it was a pretty damn good combination :)

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  20. What a fab sounding tart that looks lush - the sauce is so unusual I just have to try it! Thanks for linking up this month :-)

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    1. Hi Katie - thanks and sorry for inundating you with entries!

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  21. Will be trying this recipe ASAP! Like the look of it & sounds so yummy too! :)

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    1. Thanks Kit, hope you enjoy it - we all did ;-)

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  22. A FABULOUS combo and one that my daughter did funnily enough when she was let loose in the Goat's Cheese kitchen! THANKS for this lovely entry in Herbs on Saturday too!

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  23. Thanks Karen - great minds and all that ;-)

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  24. This sounds absolutely fantastic! I've eaten chocolate balsamic vinaigrette in a resto, but have never thought of making it. Thx for the recipe.

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    1. Thanks Doreen - it's a great condiment to have on hand. I use it quite a lot.

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