biscuits and such | Fig & Lemon Tarts
southern food blog
single,single-post,postid-10837,single-format-standard,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,select-child-theme-ver-1.0.0,select-theme-ver-2.8,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-4.3.5,vc_responsive
fig & lemon chess 8

Fig & Lemon Tarts


Fig season is here and, thanks to my friend Lauren who has both two giant fig trees and the will to harvest them, I’ve been rolling in figs. Most of these figs have been applied directly to my mouth, but some of these have made their way into various desserts, on top of pizzas, and soon, hopefully, some will be heading into the cannery (my kitchen) to be put up for winter.


fig & lemon chess 3

fig & lemon chess 2


Earlier this summer I attended the NC Foodways conference at UNC, which was amazing and something I’ve been meaning to write about since it totally flooded my brain with ideas. That is all forthcoming, but one thing I did learn that struck me as incredibly interesting was about chess pies. The first session that I attended was about 18th and 19th century colonial North Carolina foodways, and Kay Moss, food historian, changed everything I’ve ever known about my favorite pies. She said that in the past 300 years the amount of butter and eggs in a chess pie has stayed relatively consistent, but the amount of sugar has tripled. Tripled! I guess that’s no surprise in our overly-saccharine food culture, but that blew my mind. So I decided to try my hand at an ancestral chess.


fig & lemon chess 6

fig & lemon chess


The result of a lemon chess with a third the amount of sugar was lovely. It was so perfectly tart, and creamy enough to be a custard. Topped with fresh Wilmington grown figs and North Carolina gallberry honey, this dessert tasted like midsummer. I think it’s safe to say that when it comes to chess pies, I’ll be taking my recipes way back to the classics.


fig & lemon chess 7


Fig & Lemon Tarts
makes 10 4″ tarts



2 cups flour

1 stick butter

1 tbsp sugar

Pinch of salt

1/3 cup cold water


4 eggs

1/4 cup sugar

1 stick butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

Juice of 4 lemons


Fresh figs

Local honey


To make your dough combine flour, sugar, salt, and cubed butter in the food processor. Blend until butter has been cut into the flour. Slowly add water, a tbsp at a time, until the dough forms a ball. Wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.


Melt your butter and stir in your sugar. Slowly add in eggs, one at a time. Stir in lemon juice, salt, and vanilla. Heat your oven to 375F.


Roll your dough out on a floured surface to 1/4″ thick. Press into greased tart tins (or one pie dish to make pie instead of mini tarts) and set on a baking tray. Fill each tart tin with chess filling and place in oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes (longer for a full pie- 45minutes) or until the filling is firm and the crust has browned.


Quarter your figs and top each tart with fresh figs and a drizzle of honey. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Print Friendly


  • Chyleen Slone

    04.08.2015 at 06:54 Reply

    How much lemon do you add to the chess recipe? The lemon is missing from the recipe.

    • Elena Rosemond-Hoerr

      04.08.2015 at 09:49 Reply

      Ah! Good catch! It’s the juice of 4 lemons, and I will update the recipe. D’oh.

  • Debra @ Bowl Me Over

    05.08.2015 at 07:50 Reply

    Reading the above comment gave me a chuckle, remember a beautiful lemon meringue pie I made in home ec class……that I forgot to put the lemon in! Haha! Back to you though, what a delicious delicate looking dessert, beautiful!

  • Kacey @ The Cookie Writer

    05.08.2015 at 08:12 Reply

    Ahh!! I am in love! I can never find fresh figs where I live :( I really need to look harder so I can try this recipe (having worked with dried figs I know I would LOVE fresh ones.)

  • cristina

    05.08.2015 at 08:57 Reply

    These fig and lemon tarts are just elegant and exquisite – love the size you made them! How lucky for you to have access to so many figs. My fig trees did not produce this year as I had hoped. May be using my meager stash for these lovely tarts!

  • Lucy

    05.08.2015 at 09:09 Reply

    I’m a sucker for anything fig or lemon, so these look incredible to me!

  • Michelle @ The Complete Savorist

    05.08.2015 at 16:51 Reply

    These are lovely. Beautiful recipe and photographs. Pinned.

  • jenna @ just j.faye

    05.08.2015 at 17:17 Reply

    These tarts look like a dream! I love that flavor combination and wish I had one of these gorgeous things right now!

  • biscuits and such | Best of 2015

    31.12.2015 at 10:01 Reply

    […] Fig & Lemon Tarts […]

Post a Comment