have tried my hand at quite a few tart desserts recently. banana tarte tatin, apple tart (which on mach 4 is developing nicely), milk tart, custard tarts, cherry tarts and chocolate tarts. but last night, hosting a dinner party for old friends, who have been guinea pigs for most of my baking experiments, i was driven to try something new.
the hummingbird bakery cookbook has a recipe for a pecan pie with an image of said pie that makes you want to lick the page. i am a big fan of the hummingbird bakery recipes. you get great results. so i decided to give this one a go. fortunately i had some paté sablee in the fridge. i decided from the outset that i would add some sort of alcohol to the filling since this was a grown up party and pecan pie is usually quite overwhelmingly sweet.
the addition of booze (in this case a healthy swig of Benriach single malt…cos we is fancy like that) added a nice depth of flavour and quite frankly gave off the most sublime aroma as the tart baked. i keep interchanging the terms pie and tart but please forgive me. my shameless desire for alliteration means that pecan tart is simply not acceptable to my brain. i never claimed sanity.
so its simple. roll out the pastry and place in a tart dish. fill the shell with the pecan nuts and place back in the fridge to chill. mix sugar and syrup together and bring to boil. i added the whisky at this point. allow the mixture to cool. add cooled mixture to some eggs (you cool it so you don’t scramble the eggs) and then add chopped butter and vanilla and mix till the butter melts. pour the mixture into the pastry shell and bake for an hour. i baked mine for about 45 minutes at which point it looked like so…
as you can see the crust is very brown. i’m pretty sure that if i’d baked it for the full hour it would have burnt. i gave the tart a slight shake and the filling didn’t wobble much so i decided that it was safe to take it out of the oven.
it was delicious. the sugar filling formed a nice crispy crust on the top.
but in true alecia style i was considering improvements even as i tucked into my first slice.
firstly i would definitely add more nuts. the 100g stipulated in the menu isn’t nearly enough. the sugar egg filling settles in the bottom with the nuts rising to the surface. i would opt for less filling and more nuts.
the filling, made from sugar, syrup, eggs and butter is kind of a weird milk free custard in terms of texture. very tasty but slightly strange in that it is missing a creamy or milky element. i would go for less eggs and maybe try to make a caramel instead of using syrup. try to get more a caramel toffee feel.
we served the tart with vanilla ice-cream and sent leftovers home with my dinner guests.
in summary: pecan pie is straightforward. i prepped the tart when my guests arrived and put it in the oven. it was ready by the time we were finished with dinner so from a timing point of view i think it works well for entertaining. it’s nice to serve it slightly warm so that it contrasts with the cold ice-cream.
lessons learnt: more nuts is better. i am walking testament to this theory 🙂
ps. please get in touch to share your pecan pie experiences. would love to hear from you.