A certain someone request a Pecan Pie for Thanksgiving this year. In my experience Pecan Pies were these gooey sweet monstrosities that lurked on the edges of the Thanksgiving dessert buffet satisfying the sickeningly sweet desires of a select few nostalgic Southerners. It has occurred to me in the past that if I actually came across a good pecan pie I might like them – luscious golden caramel, buttery warm pecans, a flaky crust- but alas, that was never my luck. I set out on this endeavor blind to the wonders of the pecan pie, but determined to discover a recipe that would materialize all those nutty caramelized dreams of what a pecan pie could be.
My first order of business was to turn to my good friend Allison (who is an excellent baker, and has been known to bake a pecan pie or two in the past) for tips on how to go about creating “the best” pecan pie. Tip #1 – always toast the nuts. Tip #2 – lemon juice. Tip # 3 – Joanne Chang.
The recipe below is adapted from the pecan pie recipe found in Joanne Chang’s cookbook Flour. I also took a peek at the Pecan Pie recipes found on Smitten Kitchen and Martha Stewart.com. In the end I decided to try baking it as a tart to cut down on the goop factor and disperse the sweetness out across the pie crust a little more. I also swapped the corn syrup out with some maple syrup to enrich the flavor profile.
Maple Pecan Tarts
Recipe makes six 6″ mini tarts or one large 12″ tart.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Make the Pie Crust, roll it out, transfer it to the tart pan(s), and pre-bake the tart shell.
Toast 2 cups of halved Pecans in a cast-iron pan.
In a sauce pan caramelize (for about 10 -15 minutes):
- 1/2 cup Water
- 3/4 cup Brown Sugar
Add to sauce pan and cook until well combined (5-10 minutes):
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) Butter
- 1 3/4 cup Maple Syrup
Remove sauce pan from the heat and set it aside to cool slightly.
Whisk together in a separate bowl:
- 3 Eggs
- Lemon Juice from 1/2 a lemon
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 3 tbsp flour
- dash of salt
Gradually whisk the caramelized mixture into the eggs – whisk continuously so that the heat from the caramel does not cuddle the eggs.
Add the toasted pecans, and pour the filling into the tart shell(s).
Bake for about 40 minutes.