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Top Chef Contender Joe Sasto is known for his attention to detail and passion for artfully displaying the fruits of local farmers' labors on the plate. His Goat Cheese Tart with Beet-Poached Fig and Hazelnut Crunch plays on the classic combination of beets and goat cheese and builds in sweet, earthy flavor by poaching figs in the juice of red beets. Beet pulp from juicing the beets binds the crunchy hazelnut topping. The result is a bright, earthy and sophisticated fall and winter dessert menu showstopper.



Recipe courtesy of JOE SASTO, a Los Angeles-based chef and a 2018 Top Chef contender.

Goat Cheese Tart with Beet Poached Fig

Ingredients

Goat Cheese Tart

  • 700g all-purpose flour
  • 200g hazelnut flour
  • 600g butter, frozen and shredded
  • 300g cold water
  • 10g salt
  • 5g sugar
  • 453g Laura Chenel goat cheese
  • 375g heavy cream
  • 12g gold strength gelatin sheets
  • 1.8g agar agar
  • Salt, to taste

Beet Poached Figs

  • 1000g homemade red beet juice, strained (pulp reserved)
  • 200g black mission figs, ripe and firm
  • Salt, to taste

Fig Leaf Oil

  • 1 pound fig leaves, fresh and cleaned
  • 500g grapeseed oil

Hazelnut Crunch

  • 100g beet pulp (reserved from juicing), dehydrated
  • 200g hazelnuts, cracked and chopped
  • 60g sugar
  • 3g salt

Instructions

Preparation:

  1. First, prepare the fig leaf oil (recipe follows).
  2. Next, prepare the goat cheese tart (recipe follows).
  3. While the goat cheese tart sets, prepare the hazelnut crunch (recipe follows).
  4. Finally, prepare the beet poached figs (recipe follows).
  5. To begin assembly, slice the tart and transfer to plates. Serve the hazelnut crunch next to the slice of tart and place a poached fig on top of the crunch.

Fig Leaf Oil Preparation:

  1. Over an open flame, ideally live fire using fig tree wood, quickly toast each side of the leaves until they are lightly browned around edges.
  2. While still warm, transfer to a blender and cover with the oil.
  3. Blend on high speed for 5 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 180ºF.
  4. Immediately transfer to a clean bowl set over an ice bath.
  5. Allow to cool completely and infuse overnight.

Goat Cheese Tart Preparation:

  1. In stand mixer, combine flour, hazelnut flour, salt, and sugar.
  2. On low speed, add the frozen butter.
  3. Mix until combined and the consistency is like wet sand. Do not over-mix or allow the butter to melt.
  4. Slowly drizzle in the cold water until the dough just comes together. Do NOT overwork the dough. You may not need all of the water.
  5. Once the dough just comes together, transfer to a floured work surface and shape into small rounds. Wrap the rounds in plastic wrap and transfer to the fridge to rest for 1 hour
  6. Once rested, roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness and place into small tart pans.
  7. Dock the dough with a fork, and blind bake for 8-15 minutes at 350ºF until golden in color. Allow to cool completely.
  8. While the crust is cooling, prepare the goat cheese filling.
  9. First, bloom the gelatin in ice water and set aside.
  10. In a large sauce pot, heat the heavy cream to a simmer.
  11. Meanwhile, add the goat cheese to a blender. As soon as the heavy cream simmers, turn off the heat and pour the warm cream over the goat cheese.
  12. Blend on high speed until homogenous. Next, add the bloomed gelatin and agar agar to the warm mixture.
  13. Continue to blend until the temperature reaches 180ºF.
  14. Season with salt.
  15. While the tart filling is still hot, pour into pre-baked tart shells.
  16. As the goat cheese mixture begins to cool, add a few drops of the prepared fig leaf oil and swirl with a toothpick.
  17. Allow the tart to cool and set for 6 hours.

Hazelnut Crunch Preparation:

  1. In a wide nonstick pan, add the sugar and a few drops of water and turn on the heat to medium-high.
  2. Once the sugar has melted slightly, add the hazelnuts.
  3. With a spatula, stir constantly, as the nuts and sugar begin to caramelize.
  4. When the sugar is golden brown and the nuts are toasted, add the dehydrated beet pulp. Continue to stir for 1 more minute until everything is coated evenly.
  5. Transfer to a silpat lined baking tray and allow to cool completely before breaking up.

Beet Poached Figs Preparation:

  1. In a large, wide bottom sauté pan, add the beet juice and heat to a simmer.
  2. Slice the figs in half and remove the stems, being careful not to deform the figs.
  3. Gently place the figs into the simmering beet juice to poach for a few minutes.
  4. Carefully agitate and swirl the beet juice to promote even cooking.
  5. Season with salt to taste.
  6. Prepare a large hotel pan set on an ice bath.
  7. When the figs are just tender, carefully pour the figs and warm beet juice into the hotel pan.
  8. Allow the figs to cool in their own juices before serving.
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