Chocolate Pecan Tart
Yields 8-10 ample and gooey slices
Adapted from Suzanne Goin's "The Menu," featured in the November 2012 issue of Bon Appetit
When it comes to making tarts and especially the crust, I'm often resistant to the idea of rolling the dough out with a rolling pin. Pressing it into the pan simply appeals to me more; I always feel that tart dough is too delicate for a rolling pin and that, if I press too hard, it will either break or end up being too tough. In the case of this tart in particular, I at first tried to overcome this fear, but, considering I was a bit pressed for time and hadn't let the dough chill for the required 2 hours, I rolled it out very roughly and unevenly and then proceeded to press the dough into the pan. I would, in fact, recommend this method to everybody making this because it not only struck me as infinitely more simple, but it also led to some of the best tart dough I've ever made: very firm and thick.
The other thing I would add to these recipe notes is the fact that, when I finally cut into this beauty of a tart, some filling that had failed to set oozed out (perhaps 1-2 tablespoons worth). I'm not sure if this was the intended result (I assume not) or if the tart had perhaps needed to bake for a few minutes more (doubtful, considering the texture of the crust), but next time I may add either an additional egg, a half-teaspoon of corn starch mixed with a little water, or a tablespoon of flour to the filling. Then again, on the one hand, I'm reluctant to do this because the taste of the tart was just right--really rich and appropriately gooey--but, on the other hand, I hate to lose some of the filling. If you try the tart and any of the suggested methods, I'd love to hear how the final product turned out.
Required equipment: 11-inch diameter fluted tart pan
For the Pâte Sucrée (yields two tart shells):
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup + about 1 teaspoon heavy cream
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into tiny cubes
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
-Whisk egg yolks and cream in a small bowl, then set aside.
-In another bowl, whisk the flour, sugar and salt together.
-Add the cubes of butter and cut them in with a pastry cutter until a coarse meal forms.
-Slowly pour in the cream mixture and mix with a wooden spoon until just combined.
-Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and gently knead (4-5 turns) so that the dough forms a ball (N.B. At this point, because a small portion of the dough seemed too dry, I added about a teaspoon more of heavy cream to incorporate the last bits of stray flour).
-Divide dough in half and shape each half into a 1-inch disc. Then, wrap in plastic and refrigerate (I put one disc into the refrigerator for immediate use and the other in the freezer for Thanksgiving).
-Chill until firm (the recipe suggests two hours, but I let mine sit for only about 45 minutes) and then remove from the fridge.
-Let sit for 10-15 minutes and then gently roll out the disc on a lightly floured surface before pressing the dough into the tart pan with your fingers.
-Once the dough is pressed into the tart pan, place the pan in the freezer for 30 minutes (N.B. The original recipe suggests that you chill the dough for 1 hour in the fridge, but, again due to time constraints, I opted for the freezer).
For the pecan chocolate filling (for one tart):
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans, plus 1 1/2 cups pecan halves
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and with the seeds scraped out
3 large eggs
4 ounces dark chocolate (60%), roughly chopped
-Preheat oven to 350.
-Spread chopped pecans on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Toast, stirring once or twice, for 8-10 minutes and then remove from oven and set aside.
-Whisk sugar, both corn syrups and salt in a large bowl.
-Then, place butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Scrape in the seeds from the vanilla bean and add the bean as well.
-Cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter has visibly browned and smells nutty (about 5 minutes).
-Discard vanilla bean.
-Whisk warm browned butter into the sugar mixture and then add the eggs. Whisk to blend well.
-Set this mixture aside while you assemble the tart.
-Spread the chopped, toasted pecans on the chilled tart dough evenly.
-Scatter chocolate evenly over the nuts.
-Then, arrange the pecan halves in concentric circles over the chopped pecans and chocolate.
-Pour the filling over the nuts carefully, making sure to distribute it evenly.
-Bake tart (at 350 F) for 45-50 minutes or until the filling is just set in the center (N.B. Be sure to place an old cookie sheet or a sheet of aluminum foil beneath the tart as it bakes. Things got a little messy in my oven and this should help to spare you the unfortunate sound of the fire alarm and the unpleasant stench of burnt butter).
-Remove tart from oven and let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes.
-Remove tart from tart shell and then let stand at room temperature until serving.
-May serve with whipped cream laced with bourbon, or with vanilla ice cream. The tart on its own is also more than enough of a treat.