High Country Baking: Boozy pecan tart
High Country Baking
Still looking for a Thanksgiving dessert? This boozy, pecan tart could be your answer. It’s as satisfying as pecan pie (which usually turns out badly at our altitude), but lighter, less gooey in texture and the nuts provide the dominant flavor rather than the pie’s syrupy sweetness. The taste of booze isn’t strong — many don’t even recognize it — but it adds another delicious layer of flavor. And the tart can be made a day before serving, a real bonus when you’re preparing a multicourse meal.
The recipe is quite straightforward; just don’t over-bake it, or the filling will lose its pleasing texture. If you want to make your own tart shell but don’t have a favorite recipe, email me, and I’ll send you mine.
Boozy pecan tart
Make in a 9-inch shiny metal tart pan with a removable bottom. Recipe works at any elevation.
- 2 cups pecan halves, toasted, divided
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (one stick), melted and cooled
- 2 tablespoons bourbon or dark rum
- 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- Whipped cream flavored with bourbon or vanilla ice cream as an accompaniment, optional
- Your favorite homemade or commercial tart shell
- 1 egg white
Make and prebake the tart shell following the recipe’s directions. Just before it’s ready to come out of the oven, whisk the egg white in a small bowl until frothy. As soon as you remove the shell from the oven, brush the entire inside with the egg white (you won’t use it all), and stick the pan back in the oven for a minute or two so the egg white dries and hardens. This will help prevent the crust from getting soft and soggy when it’s filled. Let it cool completely.
Fill and bake the tart: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center position. Coarsely chop 1 1/2 cups of the toasted pecan halves but leave the rest whole. Place the flour, brown sugar and salt in a large bowl and whisk until well combined and the brown sugar is lump-free. Add the melted butter, bourbon or rum and vanilla, and whisk to combine. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix well. Add the chopped pecans, reserving the whole ones to decorate the tart once it’s baked.
Spoon the filling into the prebaked and cooled crust, place the tart pan on a baking sheet, and bake until the filling is set. It should still jiggle just a little when you gently shake the pan. This will take about 35-45 minutes, depending on the depth of your tart pan. Start checking at 30 minutes; you don’t want to overbake the tart or the filling will get mealy. You may need to cover the crust with strips of aluminum foil to prevent it from over-browning as the filling cooks.
As soon as you remove the tart from the oven, place the whole, toasted pecan halves in a decorative border around the edge of the tart, gently pressing them into the filling. Let the tart cool completely on a rack. Store it, well covered, in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, slice it with a sharp knife and reheat the pieces in a 300-degree oven until just warm to the touch or serve at room temperature. Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream flavored with bourbon or rum are nice accompaniments.
Vera Dawson’s column “High Country Baking” publishes biweekly in the Summit Daily News. Dawson is a high-elevation baking instructor and author of three high-altitude cookbooks. Her recipes have been tested in her kitchen in Frisco, where she’s lived since 1991, and altered until they work at elevation. Contact her at email@example.com.
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