Friday, November 26, 2010

Chocolate pecan tart

I decided to try baking my first-ever tart for Thanksgiving this year.  Chocolate pecan was the goal because my mom likes pecan pie, but only for the pecans - my family's objection to pecan pie lies in that gooey brown stuff under the pecan layer: it's usually too sweet.  Given that we are also dark chocolate fans, a chocolate pecan tart sounded ideal.

In progress

 For the crust, I went with David Lebovitz's French tart dough recipe, and my starting point for the tart was a Food & Wine recipe.  I followed the tart dough recipe quite precisely, but given that the tart recipe was for an 11-in tart (and my pan is a 9-in pan) and that my goal was to increase chocolate and reduce cloying sweetness, some tinkering was in order.

Requisite beauty shot

I was very pleased with the final product: very nutty, very chocolatey, not too sweet, with a super flaky crust and just enough caramel to hold things together.  This tart was also very rich; after Thanksgiving dinner, a small slice was more than enough.

So, here is my actual recipe:

Chocolate pecan tart (9-in, serves ~10), adapted from Food & Wine

1. Make a tart crust and let it cool.  David Lebovitz's recipe works well and is pretty easy.

Ingredients for tart filling:
2 oz (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/8 cup honey
1/3 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed or unpacked
1.5 tbsp granulated sugar
A little less than 1 cup heavy cream (this will make sense later)
2 cups pecans, coarsely chopped
Some whole pecan halves
3.5 oz dark chocolate, broken into small pieces or roughly chopped (I used 1 bar of Valrhona 85%)

2. Preheat oven to 400deg.  (The recipe says to bake the filled tart at 350, so I'm sure that would work, too; I simply forgot to turn down the temperature, ha!)

3. In a small saucepan, bring 1/2 cup of heavy cream to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to very low, add the chocolate, and stir until melted.  Spread half of this ganache in the tart crust, covering the bottom.  Keep the rest warm and stir now and then, to maintain homogeneity.

4. Sprinkle most of the chopped pecans over the ganache layer, reserving a small handful.

5. In another small saucepan, melt the butter and honey together over high heat.  Add the brown and granulated sugars and stir until dissolved, then boil for 1 minute without stirring.  Add 1/4 cup (or a little less) of heavy cream and stir constantly until smooth.  Remove from heat and drizzle evenly over the layer of pecans, essentially gluing that layer together.  The tart crust should be mostly full at this point.

6. Bake the tart for about 20 min, until bubbling.  Simultaneously toast the remaining handful of chopped pecans, as well as the whole pecan halves; this toasting should take much less than 20 min.  Cool the tart on a rack (or burner, or something else that allows nominal circulation).

7. Once cool, decorate tart with remaining ganache and the toasted nuts.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!