Emily Ansara Baines
As any experienced chef would know, blue cheese brings out the sweet taste of figs like no other ingredient. Thus, Mrs. Patmore would bake these delicious hors d’oeuvres that are simultaneously sweet and tart. Eaters beware, however: Nothing is as tart as the Crawley sense of humor!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Roll out puff pastry sheet on a clean, lightly floured surface. Place puff pastry sheet in a well-greased baking pan and then place another sheet pan on top of puff pastry to prevent it from rising too much.
Bake puff pastry in preheated oven (with sheet pan still on top) for 5-8 minutes or until beginning to turn golden. Remove and set aside.
To make walnut crunch: In a medium-sized skillet, stir the 2 tablespoons of honey, the 2 tablespoons of sugar, 2 tablespoons of the butter, the cinnamon, and a pinch of salt over medium heat until the butter melts. Cook mixture until it boils and reaches a deep golden brown, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in cream, followed by walnuts. Cook for an additional 2 minutes, then pour out over a sheet of heavy foil. Let cool completely, then chop walnut crunch into small pieces.
To prepare figs: Mix the rest of the sugar sugar, water, and a pinch of salt in a heavy skillet over medium heat until sugar is evenly moist, adding more water if needed. Cook mixture until sugar turns golden, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Place figs cut side down in sugar mixture. Cook figs until they begin to release juice. Immediately add the rest of the butter, swirling skillet to melt. Remove from heat and add port. Let figs marinate in port mixture for 5-10 minutes before removing figs to a plate to cool. Once again bring syrup to a boil, whisking until smooth. Cool completely.
Using a 2- to 3-inch pastry cutter, cut out rounds of semi-baked puff pastry. Divide walnut mixture among rounds, then top with fig halves, cut side up.
Bake tartlets in preheated oven (still at 350 degrees) for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
Artfully arrange cheese on top of tartlets, followed by the sweet port syrup. Drizzle with honey and serve.