Makes:1 (9-inch) tart (about 8 to 10 servings)
This tart from Chef Garces of Amada restaurant in Philadelphia takes the savory dessert trend to a whole other level. The combination of spiced figs with salted walnuts and sweet blue cheese makes the dish versatile enough to serve as an appetizer or as an adventurous dessert along with a scoop of ice cream.
Game plan: You may need to roll out the puff pastry dough to completely line the tart pan; lightly dust a clean surface with all-purpose flour and gently roll.
Place cannella or cinnamon stick, star anise pods, peppercorns, and juniper berries in a 5-by-5-inch piece of cheesecloth and tie tightly with butcher’s twine. Place sachet and wine in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, add figs, and cook until plumped, about 10 minutes.
Strain figs through a fine mesh strainer and place in a medium bowl; discard sachet. Cool figs to room temperature; set aside.
Heat the oven to 400°F, arrange a rack in the middle, and place a baking sheet on the rack.
For the walnuts:
Place walnut halves in a medium frying pan over medium heat and toast, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add butter and salt, and allow butter to brown slightly, stirring frequently, about 1 minute.
Remove from heat and cool to room temperature; set aside.
For the cheese spread:
Combine cheese, cream, and vanilla seeds in a small mixing bowl and stir until smooth. (Refrigerate, tightly covered, for up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature before using.)
Line a 9-inch aluminum tart pan that has a removable bottom with puff pastry dough and trim the edges, leaving a 1/4-inch overhang.
Using a fork, prick the bottom of the dough all over, line with parchment paper, and fill with dry beans or pastry weights. Place on the heated baking sheet and bake until the edges are puffed and beginning to turn golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Remove the parchment paper and beans or weights, and bake for another 10 minutes until the center is golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack.
Place poached figs, toasted walnuts, and honey in a large bowl and mix to combine.
Evenly spread cheese mixture on the bottom of the cooled tart shell and evenly top with the fig-walnut mixture. Bake on the baking sheet until pastry is cooked all the way through and filling is bubbling, about 10 minutes. Remove from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack.