In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the almonds with the fennel and aniseeds, until course crumbs form. Add 1 cup flour, 6 tablespoons butter, sugar, and salt and pulse 10 to 12 times to create the texture of coarse crumbs. Add the egg mixture and pulse 8 to 10 times, just until the pastry begins to come together.
Butter a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.
Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured board and form into a ball. Flatten the ball and press the dough into the tart pan, covering the bottom and sides. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Prick the surface of the pastry with a fork and bake 12 to 14 minutes, or until firm and pale gold. Cool thoroughly.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, bay leaf, aniseeds, and fennel seeds over high heat and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat and let the cream infuse and reduce by 1/3. Remove the pan from the flame, cover and set aside to cool. Whisk the cream, egg, and confectioners' sugar into a small bowl, blending carefully.
Starting at the base, slit each fig almost in half, leaving stem end intact. Stuff each fig with an almond, press the halves together, and stand each fig up in the pastry shell.
Pour the custard around the figs. Dust the top with brown sugar and bake for 25 minutes, or until the custard is set and the filling is dark gold. Cool for 10 minutes, then remove the sides of the pan, and cool 20 minutes before serving.
Recipe copyright Mario Batali, 2002. All Rights Reserved.