Friday, November 18, 2011

Pecan Tart

My absolute favorite pie of all time is Pecan Pie. Hands down, no debate, end of story. I inherited an adoration of Pecan Pie from my mom, a southerner. But really, it's probably the most traditional of all the Thanksgiving fare. Pecans are one of the only major nuts crops native to North America and they were a major diet staple for Native Americans as far back as the 1500's. Seriously, way back. It's a pretty safe bet that somewhere on that first Thanksgiving table there were pecans. They are the most American of nuts. 

Now, as much as I love Pecan Pie, and I really really do, I will admit that it can be a tad on the sweet side. Alright, who am I kidding, it's seriously sweet. Maybe it has to do with the sugar, brown sugar and corn syrup. Maybe? Hmm? I'm not sure. For those new to Pecan Pie, it can be a bit daunting. All that sugary gooeyness oozing out beneath the pecans. So, In order to appeal to a wider audience, I've made some slight modifications to the traditional pie and gone with a tart. I started with a regular old Pecan Pie recipe, but cut the quantities for the filling in half. I kept the original quantity of pecans but chopped them up. I know it looks pretty with all the whole pecans on the top but I think the tart turns out crunchier and is easier to cut into clean pieces if the pecans are chopped. What you end up with is all the flavors of traditional pecan pie but with equal amounts of pecans and filling. Give it a try.

Here's what you need: Your favorite recipe for a one-crust pie. (I used half of Gesine's "Perfect Puff" found here and here, seriously, it's my new favorite crust recipe.), sugar, brown sugar, salt, dark corn syrup (Please use the dark!), vanilla, melted butter, eggs and chopped pecans. You'll want to melt the butter and beat the eggs (separately of course) before you get started. Oh and you'll need an extra, separate, beaten egg white.

Line a 9-inch tart pan with the pie crust and trim the edges even with the pan.

Brush and bottom and sides of the crust with the beaten egg white. This creates a moisture barrier and prevents your crust from getting soggy.

Put everything else, except the pecans, in a bowl and mix it up good. It's really easier if you beat the eggs first. I didn't. Sometimes I do things the hard way. Sometimes I'm stubborn about it. Sometimes.

Here's what it looks like all mixed up. Make sure the egg is all mixed in, it can be stubborn. Mmmm, sugary.

Spread the pecans evenly over the bottom of the crust. The recipe calls for 1 cup but I used a bit more just to fill every space. As far as I'm concerned you can't have too many pecans, use your judgement.

Set the tart pan on a rimmed cookie sheet, just in case you get any overflow, and pour the filling over the pecans. Don't worry. Those little suckers will float to the top.

Bake in a 350°F oven for 30-40 minutes until the top is brown and the filling is set.

Here is why you use the sheet pan. You don't want that sticky mess on the bottom of your oven, do you?

Let the tart cool to room temperature, cut a serve. I like Cool Whip, 'cause I'm one of those "If it ain't Cool Whip, it ain't Thanksgiving" people. For reals, I like whipped cream, and it would be a nice compliment, I just need Cool Whip at Thanksgiving. 
Try my Pecan Tart, it's a small tweak on tradition.

Pecan Tart

Pie crust for single crust 9-inch pie
1 beaten egg white

1/2 C. granulated sugar
2T. brown sugar
1/4t. kosher salt
1/2C. dark corn syrup
1/2t. vanilla
3T. butter melted
2 eggs beaten
1C. chopped pecans

Make pie crust and line a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom.
(This can be done a day or two ahead)

Preheat oven to 350°F
Brush inside of pie crust with beaten egg white.
Mix together sugar, brown sugar, salt, corn syrup, vanilla, butter and eggs. Sprinkle pecans evenly over bottom of unbaked tart shell. Set the tart pan on a cookie sheet and pour syrup mixture over the top of pecans.
Bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes until top is browned and filling is set.
Let cool completely before serving. (Can be refrigerated overnight.)

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