Christmas was made for chocolate. Peruse any of the isles at your local market or grocery store and you will piles of chocolate treats, stacked high and proud. What is it about this sweet, dark temptation that so many of us crave during the holidays? I like to think it’s the texture, the flavor, and the decadence. The holidays were made for indulgence and chocolate is the ultimate indulgent dessert. Combine that with the snowy weather and comforting fire and you have the perfect winter night. At least in my opinion.
I made this Chocolate Pecan Tart right after the Thanksgiving holiday and am planning on making it again for next week’s holiday party because it was an absolute hit. Originally, this was a pie but my family isn’t big on pies (crazy talk) so I converted it to a tart. Not much of a difference, if you ask me, however the ratio of filling to tart is much higher in tart form. If you prefer more filling, less crust, then this tart will be a hit. Made of chocolate, pecans, brown sugar and egg yolks, the filling actually reminded more of a brownie since it was more firm and dense than an actual chocolate tart.
Now, if the idea of making tart dough causes you to break out into a nervous sweat, let me say this: it is only butter, flour and sugar. That’s it! A quick whirl in a food processor, a quick chill, then a fast rolling out session with a rolling pin, then you are done. If you break it down into small parts, it is less intimidating and also makes it easier preparation-wise. I stick with my tried-and-true recipe for all-butter pastry, a pastry that works well with tarts and pies. It comes from Ken Haedrich’s book on Pie and is pretty easy to assemble and roll out. Plus, there is always leftover dough which means you can create cute cutouts or save it for another baking project… Hand pies, anyone? But if you have another preferred tart recipe, sub it in and go for it! But make sure that you partially bake the crust before filling the tart because a quick prebake session will prevent the crust from being soggy. Soggy crust makes NO one happy. Happy baking everyone! Let me know if you have any questions or comments about the recipe. I’ll do my best to answer as quickly as possible.
Chocolate Pecan Tart
Adapted from: Ken Haedrich’s Pie
Yields: One 11-inch Tart
1 11-inch all-butter pastry dough, properly chilled
⅔ cup Light Corn Syrup
⅔ cup Firmly Packed Brown Sugar
¼ cup (½ Stick) Unsalted Butter, cut into pieces
4 ounces Semisweet (60 Percent) Chocolate Chunks
generous Pinch Of Salt
3 large Eggs
1 large Egg Yolk
1 ½ tsp (generous) Vanilla Extract
1 ½ cups Pecans, coarsely chopped
If you haven’t already, prepare the pastry and refrigerate until firm enough to roll, about one hour.
On a sheet of lightly floured waxed paper, roll the pastry into a 13-inch circle with a rolling pan. Invert the pastry over a 11-inch tart pan, center, and peel off the paper. Tuck the pastry into the pan, without stretching it, and sculpt the edge so it is even with the rim. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes, then partially pre-bake and let cool.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees ℉.
Gently heat the corn syrup, brown sugar, and butter together in a medium-size saucepan until the butter melts. Turn off the heat and add the chocolate and salt. Let stand for 5 to 7 minutes, occasionally tilting and shaking the pan so the liquid runs over the chocolate. Whisk the mixture until smooth, then pour into a medium-size bowl and let cool for 10 minutes.
Whisk the eggs and egg yolk together in a medium-size bowl until frothy. Blend in the vanilla. Add about half of the slightly cooled chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth. Blend in the remaining chocolate mixture. Add the pecans and stir well. Pour the filling into the cooled tart shell. Using a fork, gently rake the nuts to distribute them evenly.
Place the tart on the center oven rack and bake until the filling has puffed and cracked slightly, especially around the edge, about 40 minutes. Rotate the tart 180 degrees halfway through baking, so that the part that faced the bak of the oven now faces forward. When done, it may be wobbly at the center. Don’t worry, the residual heat will continue to cook the tart.
Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.