Crostata di Marmellata di Fichi

It all started with a jar of jam. A beautiful, urn-like, Costco-sized jug really, filled with sparkling fig jam. Fig is my favorite, next to apricot, and the best brand is Tuna’s (which Caravan stopped carrying!) I was so sad until that moment in Costco. That is, until I got home.
Because, you see, this gorgeous golden Greek jug of hope held a horrible, horrible secret that only revealed itself when you took your first bite. Vanilla. They put FUCKING VANILLA in the jam. It tasted like my father’s pipe tobacco smelled. So, great. Now I had a Costco-sized jug of inedible fig jam taking up precious refrigerator space. And it stayed there for several months while I decided what to do. Then it occurred to me: crostata di mamellata!! Of course. Found a nice nonna recipe on The YouTube. It used oil and eggs in the crust – intriguing! I tried it and took it in to the office. It was lovely, and consumed with glee.

But overall the feedback was that it was too sweet – I’d made the layer of jam too thick. Everyone loved the vanilla now that it was in a tarte. I thought the crust needed a pinch of salt, and would taste better with butter than oil. General consensus was that it tasted like a giant fig newton. I’m cool with that. And realized essentially this is like those stained glass cookies you make for the winter holidays.

Fast forward to Saturday morning, time to try those adaptations. This time the dough mixed in the food processor, and I used melted butter instead of the oil. I thought this was a good idea. Oh, lawdee lawdee lawd. Do not ever do this. Ever. For reals. Learn from my pain. What an awful, greasy glob it made. I hoped by putting it back in the fridge for an hour, it would become useable. It was. Whew, dodged that bullet.

For the sweetness, the second batch which (THANK GAWD) finally ends that damn jar of fig jam, I stirred in the juice of one lemon. That did the trick, and balanced out the sweetness nicely. If I could do dairy, a dollop of mascarpone or plain Greek yogurt would be absolute heaven on this puppy.

The next time I make this, I will use either apricot or bosenberry jam. And I shall feast, betches!

Let’s make this – and I hope you check out the nonna video – I love the Italian technique, whether it is pasta for noodles or for pastry you beat that egg then slowly add in the flour. With your damn hand, dammit. Because centuries of practice going back to the Roman Empire cannot be wrong.

Crostata di marmellata
2 eggs, beaten
½ c. butter, cool-ish
½ c. sugar
1 tsp bkp pwd
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp. salt
2 c. AP Flour
sparkle sugar
Filling: a jar of jam (about 1.5-2c)

Set aside 2Tbsp. of the egg. Preheat your oven to 350*. In the bowl of your food processor, put the dry ingredients and briefly pulse to combine them. Add the butter, pulse til it looks like fine crumbs. Add the liquid, and pulse again to combine.
You will wind up with a crumbly mass. Turn it out on your floured board and gently knead a few times. Cut off 1/3 and set it aside. Roll out the larger piece to fit the bottom and sides of your pan(s). Fit it in the pan and trim the edges. Roll out the remaining dough to the same thickness (about 1/4″) in a big rectangle-ish shape and using a swirly-edged pasta cutter, slice it in to ½” wide strips. place these in the lattice style of your choice on top of the jam, and pinch them in to the dough at the edge. You’ll have many strips left. When that is done, smoosh down the dough at the sides of the pan with your finger, it should be about ¼” higher than the jam. Take the remaining strips and place them around the circumference. Gently brush all the dough with the reserved beaten egg, and sprinkle with the sparkle (or normal, or turbinado) sugar.
Bake 350* for 40m. Cool completely before slicing. Then have with your afternoon caffe with the neighbors.

Pecan Brown Sugar Scones

This is the second attempt at these babies. I’ve been trying to capture Himself’s favorite dessert, pecan pie. Although these are not quite there, they are quite tasty. Hopefully a future post is coming that can be called the pecan pie version. Not today, though. If I make one more batch of these this weekend, I am afraid Himself will have my head.

This version is just sweet enough, with a nice crunch from the nuts, and a little hint of salt in the special icing.

These are a little more fussy than my usual, but don’t be scared off. It’s not hard, there’s just a couple extra bits. But hey! That’s what makes these so special. And pretty enough to get rid of the leftovers to the neighbors!
Shall we?

Pecan Brown Sugar Scones.
yield: 16 mini or 8 large

Scones:
2 c. AP flour
1/2 c. dark brown sugar, plus a little extra for sprinkling
¼ c. toasted chopped pecans
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ c. ice cold butter
¾ c. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg separated, with the whites lightly whisked until foamy.
8-16 pretty pecan halves.

Icing:
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbps. water
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. vanilla
1 c. powdered sugar.

Preheat the oven to 375*.

For the Dry, in a medium-sized bowl mix together:
2 c. AP flour
¼ c. dark brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
Mix, then cut in with a pastry cutter:
½ c. ice cold butter
Set aside, and a small bowl mix the wet:
¾ c. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg yolk.

Mix the wet in to the dry genty until it is shaggy-looking. Turn on to your board/counter, and gently flold and knead until the tough barely holds tegether. With your board knife, cut the dough in to four equal parts, and gently shape and flatten each in to a disc about 6” across and ½” high. On two of the discs, sprinkle:
¼ c. dark brown sugar
¼ toasted chopped pecans.
With your board knife, gently lift one of the plain discs and set it on top of the nuts/sugared disc. (Do the same for the other) Gently press down, they will kind of stick together. Smooth the outside edge so there’s no brown sugar poking out. (Otherwise, the top half will just slide off the bottom half during baking.) Use your board knife to slice each disc in to 8 wedges. (I do halves, quarters, then eighths). Place about ½” apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Toss the pecan halves in the foamy egg whites. Brush the backs and tops of the wedges with the beaten egg white, and place a pecan half on each. (Why not the sides? I don’t know the chemistry of it, but essentially it’ll seal the sides so there’s no where for the scone to rise and expand in the oven.) Sprinkle the moist tops with a little more brown sugar. Bake about 15 – 18 minutes until deep golden. Remove from the oven. and place the scones on a cooling rack. When they are just barely still warm, drizzle with the salted brown sugar icing. (And ermehgerd, this icing! I wanted to just eat it with a spoon. This would be amazeballs on a coffee cake. Soooo yummy.)
The Icing:
In a microwave-safe bowl (or 4 cup pyrex!), put:
2 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbps. water
Microwave until it is bubbling. (Mine took about 30 seconds). Stir in:
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. vanilla
1 c. powdered sugar.
Stir. It should be the consistency of a thick icing. Put it in a pastry tube to drizzle over the almost-cool scones. Serve and eat!


Remember to take some to the neighbors!

For the 16-scone version, the nutritional info per scone calculated using the verywell.com site is:
Calories 256
Fat 18.8g
Sodium 132mg
Carbs 19.6g (fiber 2.3g, sugars 5.7g)
Protein 4.3