Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Pecan pie / Tart

This year has just flown by, it seems like every year goes by faster than the one before. The holidays are usually an extremely busy time for me and I don't expect this year to be any different. In order for me to make it through the next month and a half without completely freaking out, I just have to be super organized. So today when I was entering into my daily planner all the events for December I realized Thanksgiving is in 9 days!!

But, while it is busy and wild, I am not complaining- catering is the part of my job which I like best. I also like the way the atmosphere at the restaurant changes right around Thanksgiving, all of a sudden things just seem much more happy and festive. I think today was the day most other people figured out the holidays are near because my party load just about doubled! The phone rang off the hook this morning with Thanksgiving orders and I can certainly say that at least for me, the Holidays have arrived.

This pecan tart is on the restaurant's Thanksgiving menu. I serve it with a Bourbon spiked whipped cream and it's delicious- specially at this time of the year. The recipe makes 2 pies, but you can easily cut in in half and make just one. The dough I use I found in a Martha Stewart cookbook, I did not change a thing- it's very easy to work with as long as the ingredients are cold.

I used a tart shell for this one, but you can use 2- 9" pie pans if you prefer. The reason I use a tart shell is because I like just the right ratio of filling to pecans- I think sometimes pies have too much filling (they're deeper) which can make the pie cloyingly sweet. The recipe will yield either 2- 10" tart pans or 2- 9" pies. If you use pie pans, watch them carefully when cooking so the edges do not brown too much, putting a piece of aluminum foil around the edges half way through cooking should keep that from happening. Toasting the pecans and browning the butter make a big difference in this pie...don't skip those steps- it intensifies their flavor and cuts down the sweetness of the pie. I add orange zest to the pie because I can't help but change things up, but if you want a more traditional tasting pie you may leave it out.

Pecan Tart / Pie

3 cups light corn syrup
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
8 eggs plus 4 egg yolks
1/4 lb. unsalted butter (1 stick)
3 cups pecan halves (toasted in a skillet until golden and fragrant)
1 tablespoon orange zest (optional)

Pate Sucree

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 lb. (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter cit into 1" pieces
4 tablespoons cold water
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten

Making the Crust:

1. In the bowl of a food processor add flour, sugar and salt. Add butter and process approximately for 10 seconds or until mixture resembles a coarse meal.

2. With the processor running, add water drop by drop, then add egg yolks. Process until the dough holds together without being wet or sticky; about 30 seconds. At this point test the dough by pinching a small amount to see if it holds together, if it's too crumbly add a bit more water.

3. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Roll out dough into tart shells or pie pan.

Making the filling:

1. Pre-heat oven to 350F

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together corn syrup, sugars, vanilla,orange zest and eggs.

3. Melt butter in a skillet until lightly brown and has a nutty aroma. Add browned butter to filling mixture and mix well.

4. Place pecans in tart shells or pie pans. Ladle filling over pecans. Place tart shells on a cookie sheet and bake for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Let cool to room temperature and serve.

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