Fig & Mascarpone Tart

It seems fitting that the last creation I made at home was my chocolate chip banana bread.  Frankie and I also made a nice peach pie last week (which he claimed was too sweet despite there being about a 1/3 cup of sugar in the whole pie, I think it was too tart for him but he didn't know how to express that), so I'll share that next time.  But I'm back in Chicago now, back at work.  I'm just trying to be positive, focusing on getting super strong for crew preseason in September.  Going back through the last few posts I've written, I sound pretty depressed, and that's not really what you're here to read... This blog functions as something of a diary for me, but I have to be mindful that hey, I kinda want people to read this thing, and also, that this is on the internet for everyone to see.  I don't want you to visit this site and think oh, here comes emo kid again, cue the Evanescence and dark makeup.  So I can't, or shouldn't, be too explicit about my life or feelings.  I do find it comforting, though, that a least a handful of people visit this site to see what I've been up to, and hopefully care about what's written here.  I will try to be more positive when I write for you, because this should be a happy place for both you and me to come together and think about food.  Because food is the happiest thing there is.  And evidence from neuroscience strongly suggests that humans can learn to activate the areas of our brains associated with the experience of happiness, and recover more quickly from the effects of negative emotions.

Ah, science.  You make me so hopeful.

May I digress slightly for a moment?  It is so irritating when I hear the suggestion that psychology isn't real science or hard science, and is instead basically just hogwash and a soft science.  I'd like to point out that there are several branches of psychology varying in the degree to which they employ techniques from the hard sciences like biology and chemistry, or from social sciences or the humanities.  It depends on which branch you're talking about, first of all.  Secondly, those branches which are more social science- or humanities-based aren't hogwash or non-empirical necessarily.  What is hogwash is how members of the academic community like to put down other fields to make theirs seem better, truer, more righteous, et cetera.  I'm sorry that you have to put down other people and their fields of expertise to inflate your own sense of worth and purpose.  All branches of psychology deal in facts and research.  I mean, stupid is as stupid does - a psychological study can be just as full of questionable material and conjecture as a study in any other field, but it isn't lacking in interest or intellectual merit simply because it is psychology and not pure biology or physics.

Aaaand I'm back.  I just had to get that off my chest and enlighten you as to the wonders of psychological research.  I'm not angry, just passionate.  It's funny, I hadn't considered studying psychology until this past September - I was scrolling through the course catalogue, projecting my inner monologue onto John about how I shouldn't major in Russian Civilizations because what will I do with that and linguistics is really cool but it would either be a career in linguistic research or the CIA for me and I didn't want to narrow down that much yet blahhhhh... When he suggested that psychology might be a good fit for me, take a look at the course offerings.  I realized that I was interested in most of the classes, and after I took biological psychology winter quarter last year, my mind was actually completely made up (I've been waffling on this subject since my junior year of high school).  Of course, I was also planning on double majoring with linguistics still, but have since dropped that to a minor.

In any case, what my parents thought was a whim has lasted, and I'm still totally smitten.  That doesn't mean that I really have any idea what I want to do with my future.  I'm trying to adopt John's one-day-at-a-time approach.  I'm not very good at living in the moment, either dwelling on the past or looking too far ahead, both of which are very stressful for an already antsy person.  I'm going into zen mode.  I'm sick of being stressed out about all the things I want to do but can't yet and all the things I should've done, or the things that should've (or shouldn't have) happened.  It doesn't change anything.  The question is, what am I doing right now, and what will I do later today. Of course, thinking ahead is necessary to guide the here-and-now, but only to a certain extent.  It's about finding the balance.  Well, this is what I'm telling myself right now anyway to keep me calm and to will myself into not being miserable anymore.  I am taking control of my feelings and realizing that I deserve to be happy and confident and strong.  I'm not quite at the point where I'm going to repeat you are strong and beautiful or something into the mirror every morning to remind myself, but I am so sick of letting the people in and circumstances of my world, and especially the past few months, hurt me.

It seems that in my college life this has happened several times, where I've felt wronged and wanted closure from those who have wronged me, but it's never come.  I want them to recognize that they have hurt me, experience the pain of remorse, and give me peace so I feel validated and happy once again.  When it doesn't come, though, there's a choice - I can continue to dwell on how I've been wronged, and let the negativity invade my dreams at night and my work during the day, or I can let it go.  The letting go is so hard because it feels like giving up.  It feels like I haven't stood up for myself, like I've let the people in my life walk all over me and tell them it's okay, tell them that it's really my fault.  I want to get what I deserve - closure.  I do deserve that at least right?  It doesn't work like that, though.  And so I have to make the closure I deserve for myself.  Because above deserving closure from those who've made me feel horrible, I desire and deserve happiness.  As my close friend Kathy says, I deserve the best, no exceptions.  She's right.  But you have to define what's the best, and that's the tricky part.  This time, for me, the best is owning my own sense of self-worth.  It's mine, and I can't let anyone take it from me again.

So, after that nice self-help rant, without further delay, a fig and mascarpone tart for your trouble.

Fig & Mascarpone Tart
adapted from Flourishing Foodie 

1 1/2 c all purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out the dough
2/3 c almond meal
1/4 c brown sugar
7 tablespoons butter, cut into cubes and really cold
1 egg, beaten
~1/4 c ice water
450 g mascarpone cheese
1/2 c heavy cream
1/4 c sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of 1/2 lemon
5 figs
~2 tablespoons pure honey

In a medium bowl combine the flours and brown sugar.  Quickly and gently cut the cold butter into the dry mixture, making sure to leave lima bean-size pieces of butter throughout.  Make a well in the mixture and add the egg.  Drizzle in 2 tablespoons of water with the egg and begin to combine, adding more water as needed for the dough to come together.  Once you can gather it easily into a ball, pat it down into a disk, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  On a clean surface with plenty of flour, roll the disk out into a circle 1/4-1/2 inch thick, or so that the dough will go ~1 inch up the sides of a tart pan.  Carefully transfer the dough into the pan (I just used a regular springform pan because it's what I had, but it would be prettier in a tart shell, with high sides mind you).  Dock the dough (poke lots of holes in the bottom with a fork to make sure the steam can escape) then bake for ~15 minutes until cooked through.  Set aside to cool.

In another medium bowl, beat the mascarpone, cream, and sugar until soft peaks form.  Add the vanilla and lemon zest, then beat until there are stiff peaks.  Spoon the filling into the cooled tart shell.  Cut the figs into eighths and arrange as your heart desires.  Drizzle over as much honey as you like, then serve.


  1. You appear to have disappeared from Facebook, but I wanted to share this with you in case you hadn't already seen it!


    1. Thanks Quinn! I've just deactivated my Facebook for a time, I'll be back though :)

      This is fascinating, but I'm also not sure if anyone could get me to eat these things... Those hornworms, ugh, I can't deal.