This showstopping chocolate pecan tart with a rattan-like decorative pattern is my pick for Thanksgiving dessert this year. It’s one of the many recipes in Helen Nugent’s new book Pie Style, which elevates pie decorating to fine art. Her pies and tarts are almost literally too gorgeous to eat. This is actually one of the more simple designs in her book, but it’s a lovely introduction to her style and a perfect holiday/winter dessert.
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This elegant take on pecan pie has a soft, buttery tart crust surrounding a dark, rich filling bursting with brown sugar and toasted pecans. The addition of the chopped chocolate really makes a big difference for me, as it gives it an extra dimension of bittersweet depth, and keeps it from being overly sweet. I’m not usually a big fan of nutty pies and tarts but for this one I think I’ll make an exception: it’s such a perfect balance of flavor and texture. And I got to use my square tart pan, which I don’t break out often enough! You can make this in a 9″ round pan, although to get the pecans to lie closely to the edge you may need to trim the pecan edges.
As I mentioned this is one of the easier recipes in Pie Style; I found arranging the pecans to be a wonderfully relaxing exercise in delicate precision. Many of the other creations in the cookbook showcase Helen’s signature elaborate weaving and sculpting techniques with dough, and I’m looking forward to tackling some of those as projects this coming winter. Definitely a recommend for your cookbook shelf and for gift-giving to your baker friends, and be sure to make this tart first for Thanksgiving. Wishing you all a safe and happy holiday!
- 1¼ cups (156 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter, chilled
- 3 tablespoons ice water
- 1½ cups (160 g) pecan halves, divided
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- ¾ cup (165 g) dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup (246 g) dark corn syrup
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons bourbon, optional
- ¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
- Place the flour, sugar and salt into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
- Pulse two to three times in a food processor or mix on low speed in a stand mixer to combine and distribute the ingredients.
- Cut the butter into 1-inch pieces. Add these to the bowl. Pulse four to six times in the food processor or mix on low speed in the stand mixer to coat the butter with flour and to cut it into the dry ingredients.
- Add the ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing two times or mixing on low speed for 15 seconds between each addition. After all 3 tablespoons have been added, continue to pulse or mix at low speed until the dough just begins to clump together (an additional 15 to 20 pulses in a food processor or 3 to 4 minutes in a stand mixer).
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Cup your hands around the dough and gently bring it together into a ball. Press gently with the heel of your hand to flatten the piece into adisc that is 1 inch thick. Wrap disc tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using.
- Take out tart dough from refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the disc to an 11-inch square, about 1⁄8 inch (3 mm) thick.
- Line a 9-inch square tart tin with removable bottom, about 1 inch deep, with the dough. Trim the edge of the dough back to the edge of the tart tin. Return the shell to the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.
- Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and place a baking sheet on it. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Measure out 1 cup of pecans and set aside. In a medium skillet, toast the remaining ½ cup pecans over medium heat, watching carefully to ensure they do not burn. Set aside to cool.
- In a medium bowl, add the melted butter and brown sugar and whisk until smooth.
- Add the flour, vanilla extract, corn syrup, eggs and bourbon (if using). Whisk to combine the ingredients.
- Coarsely chop the ½ cup of the cooled toasted pecans and add them to the mixture.
- Stir in the chocolate pieces.
- Remove the tart shell from the refrigerator and pour the mixture into it.
- To create the rattan design, start by placing one pecan vertically on top of the filling in the top left-hand corner of the tart. Place two more pecans horizontally next to the vertical pecans. Continue this pattern, left to right, from top to bottom to create a rattan (or weave) design.
- Transfer tart to the preheated sheet in the oven and bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the filling has puffed and the center is set. Let the tart cool for at least 1 hour before serving.