It’s not like any of us need another recipe for pecan pie this time of year. And yet I find myself toasting pecans and dousing them in sugary caramel year after year.
I tell myself I make pecan pie because everyone else likes it. Because it’s traditional. Because it’s that time of year. Just because.
But I secretly kind of like that wobbly caramel glob + crunchy pecan shell combo. There’s a certain crème brule satisfaction that comes from diving in with your fork.
The first bite: heaven. The second: still loving it. Bite number three: oooh-eee, this is good. But by bite four, my teeth are starting to hurt. And bite five? I’m starting to wonder if I bit off more than I can chew.
No denying, there’s some gnawing sweetness here. But there’s also some charm. I do my best to up the charm to tooth ache ratio by balancing the sweet with the not sweet. Hence the bittersweet chocolate (I’ve even used unsweetened) and the healthy pour of whisky. Some years, I’ve thrown sour cherries into the mix. Anything to take the edge off.
I’ve also recently abandoned the “pie” part of pecan pie, opting instead for pie’s thinner cousin, the tart. It’s the less is more principle: thinner caramel layer, lot’s of pecans, and a nice crust. I miss pie’s humble name, but I’m getting over it.
Makes one 9 inch tart which serves 8.
What else are we cooking today?
A savory pumpkin dinner roll topped with fresh sage from The Arrows Restaurant Cookbook; this pumpkin cheesecake, topped with these sparkling cranberries (in the photo above); my mom’s stuffing of course; and this kale salad. [Don’t worry, someone else is on turkey duty.]
Chocolate Whisky Pecan Tart
For the Crust:
- 1 ½ cups, 225g all purpose flour
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tbsp granulated sugar
- ½ cup plus 2 tbsp, 150g unsalted butter, cold and cubed
- 1/3 cup, 75g very cold water
Combine the flour, salt, and sugar, and butter in the bowl of a food processor. Place the flour, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Roughly cut in the butter using a pastry cutter or two knives. You want the mixture to be crumbly with visible pieces of large butter showing. Alternatively, place the flour, salt, sugar, and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and, using the paddle attachment, mix until the butter is broken and the mixture looks crumbly with large pieces of butter still visible. Slowly drizzle the water into the flour mixture. Mix until the dough comes together in a shaggy ball. You may not need all the water, so go slow. Dump out the dough on the counter and form it into a round. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
Have ready a 9 inch round tart pan with a removable bottom. Working on a well floured surface, roll the chilled dough into an 11 inch circle – I like to keep the dough moving and turn it periodically to prevent sticking. Carefully transfer the dough into your tart pan, pushing it into the corners. Trim the edges of the dough slightly so you have about 1 inch of overhang all around. Fold the dough over onto itself and press it into the sides of the tart pan so that it comes ¼ inch or so above the top edge of the pan (this will prevent the filling from overflowing because the crust will shrink slightly as it bakes.) Set the lined tart shell aside in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.
For the Filling
- ¾ cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup (This is a British product made from cane sugar, which I was first drawn to because it has my Dad’s name on the bottle. It’s a great corn syrup alternative, but if you can’t find it, feel free to substitute with dark corn syrup.)
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 oz (57g) good quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (optional)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2-3 tbsp whisky
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 2 cups toasted pecans
Place the syrup, the sugar, and the butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat and stir until the butter is melted and the mixture is uniform. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate, stirring until it is completely melted. Transfer the syrup to a mixing bowl and cool slightly – about 5 minutes.
Add the vanilla and whisky, mixing to combine. Then, slowly add the beaten eggs, whisking very well as you pour – this is to prevent the eggs from cooking in the warm syrup.
Assembly and Baking:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Evenly spread the toasted pecans in the bottom of the prepared tart shell. Pour the filling over the pecans, using a spatula to evenly distribute. Place the tart pan on a sheet pan and bake +/- 1 hour until the crust is golden brown and the filling is set. I find that the filling will be set after about 45 minutes, but the tart will need an additional 15 minutes to brown the crust fully. You can test for a set filling by jiggling the tart slightly – the filling should not move. Once baked, cool to room temperature and then remove the tart from its pan.