Traditions remain, but times change. While the love of Southern Pecan Pie remains, the lighter taste of Pecan Tart fits today’s appetites. This Southern Pecan tart is derived from the classic Southern Pie. Whereas the original had a thick layer of pecans and syrupy baked filling, this thinner version gives the taste without quite the sugar and fat hit.
Pecan pie can still be a part of your traditional Thanksgiving meal, just not as rich.
Notes on Ingredients
The Perfect Savory Tart Shell
I am using my perfect savory Tart Shell for this tart. After a bit of research starting with Escoffier’s doughs and recent recommendations, I derived a perfect easy to work-with dough for tarts or pretty much any pastry but especially tarts. I am using the 9-inch version of the dough.
This tart follows the classic Southern approach of adding a bit of bourbon to the mix. Not much, to not overwhelm the taste but to add a bit of balance to the sugars. The taste also complements the pecans very well.
A mixture of dark and light corn syrups is classically used for pecan pies and is continued here.
Fresh fall pecans are best, but use what is available to you. Roughly chop the pecans to leave some nice big pieces.
Notes on Technique
Baking a Pecan Pie can be a pretty easy process. This is especially true given it is possible to buy a serviceable pie crust from your grocery store freezer. Yes, making your own shell is a bit more work — but worth it. Creating a tart shell maybe even a bit more — but again worth it. In my discussion of the perfect shell, I offer a few tips, but the most important thing to remember is to keep it cold. It is much easier to work with cold dough. Do not shorten the chilling process. The approach calls for chilling the dough for 2 hours.
Hint: Click or hover over the photos below for more details
Tart Rings or Pans
This recipe calls for making two 18cm (7-inch) tarts. I am using tart rings that give a nice smooth edge. Removable bottom tart pans will also work. Additionally, if you only have bigger pans — 9-inch tart pans will work also.
Rolling out the Dough
Compared to a pie crust this shell needs to be thinner. To accomplish this you must work as fast as possible. And again, start with cold dough. Flour your service and the underside of the dough before you start. This will help the dough release from the surface. Roll out, flip the dough while turning 90°, roll again, and repeat until thin enough, about a bit less than a quarter of an inch.
Care on the Edges
A big problem with baking a tart shell is having the edges shrink. This can allow the filling to overflow. With the syrup filling of a Pecan tart, this can mean your tart is surrounded by an edge of praline. Not exactly what we are looking for.
How do we prevent edge shrinkage?
- Use care when adding water to the dough. Water will evaporate and lead to shrinkage. Use only what is needed, if any, to bring the dough together.
- When placing the dough in the tart shell push the dough into the edges. Do not stretch the dough, but push down on the extra dough until well seated in the pan.
- Provide extra care as you cut and finish the edges. To do this fold the remaining of the seated dough to the outside of the ring. Roll your rolling pin over the dough to cut the edges cleanly. Then by hand, gently work around the edges making sure all edges are pushed up next to the ring.
- When you add your pie weights to the crust make sure the weights are on the edge. You may use rice here to pack closer, or as can be noted in the above photograph smaller beans.
- 9-inch perfect savory tart dough
- 2 large eggs
- ⅔ cup (130g) sugar
- ⅓ cup (75ml) light corn syrup
- ⅓ cup (75ml) dark corn syrup
- 4 Tablespoons butter, melted
- 4 teaspoons (1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) bourbon
- ⅓ teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 1 cup (240ml) roughly chopped pecans
- Bake 2 18cm (7-inch) tart shells following the instructions for the 9-inch perfect savory tart dough. This includes the 20 minute pre-baking of the shell.
- The oven should already be set at 375°F after the pre-baking of the shell. If not, pre-heat oven to 375°F.
- Mix together the eggs, sugar syrup, butter, bourbon, vanilla, and salt until well blended.
- Spread the pecans evenly on the bottom of the two shells. Pour the syrup, egg, butter mixture over the pecans. Be careful not to overfill the tart. Spillage can be messy.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes. The filling should be just set and still a bit lose when ready. It will finish setting when cool.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool on a rack. Remove tart rings when cool enough to handle and tart shell is firm.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 290Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 41mgSodium: 151mgCarbohydrates: 37gFiber: 1gSugar: 26gProtein: 3g
Calculated Nutrition is estimated.