From the “Cook and the Chef”, ABC TV 4th October 2006

Serves 8
180 g walnuts
330 g dried figs (reconstituted by steaming)
6 free-range egg whites
250 g soft dark-brown sugar
Slices of candied or fresh lime (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 220C. Roast the walnuts on a baking tray for about 5 minutes, shaking the trays to prevent the nuts from burning. If they are not fresh season’s, rub the walnuts in a clean tea towel to remove the bitter skins, then sieve away the skins. (Comment: So make certain they are fresh Australian walnuts!) Allow to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 180C.

2. Line and grease a 24 cm springform cake tin. Remove the hard stem from each fig, then chop the figs into small pieces (this should give you 1and 1/2 cups). Toss the walnuts and fig pieces together.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks, then slowly add the soft dark-brown sugar in heaped tablespoons until incorporated and the resultant meringue is thick and stiff. Take a spoonful of the meringue and mix it through the figs and walnuts. Tip this back into the meringue and fold it through. Spoon the meringue mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 45-50 minutes; until the tart pulls away from the sides and feels ‘set’ on top.

4. Allow to cool and serve with a good dollop of mascarpone. Candied or even fresh lime is a wonderful accompaniment to this tart – decorate the edge of the tart with a ring of fine, fine slices of the lime. The tart is meant to be sticky and soft and will be rustic in appearance, so don’t fret if it falls apart as you serve it.