Thursday, December 30, 2010

Chocolate with Francois - Chocolate Pecan Tart

I cannot believe it is the end of December! This past year has just flown by! Has it seemed that way for everyone else, I wonder? Crazy! I hope everyone had a blessed holiday filled with family, friends and lots of joy. :)

It was my privilege ( or should I say is?) to end the year with this month's pick for Chocolate with Francois. My first pick was a bit fancy...Chocolate Paris-Brest. It was  very impressive when finished and tasted good, but this go round I wanted something a bit more down to earth. Right away I knew I would bake the Chocolate Pecan Tart, again. I have baked this tart at least three times. My hubby absolutely loves it and while I am not big on pecan pies, I think this tart is wonderful! And, this time I added a secret ingredient, which I will share with you, and only you. :)

The only negative thing about this post is the fact that there is no picture of a slice of the tart. By the time I got around to slicing it the lighting was terrible. Then, though I told myself over and over not to forget, I kept forgetting to take a picture each time I cut another slice from the tart. And, soon, there were no more slices to photograph!

This is a fairly simple tart to put together. For me the scariest part was making the candied pecans. I was so afraid I would burn them that I checked them every minute or so. But, they turned out fine.

My tart crust wasn't the one from the book. I am extremely fond of the sweet tart dough from Dorie Greenspan's book and use it whenever I need a tart dough. It is so very easy to put together and has turned out perfect for me every time. Why fix something if it isn't broke, right? :)

I also ended up baking my tart about 40 minutes if memory serves me right. Oh, and I had about a cup or more of the filling left over that wouldn't fit in the tart pan. Not sure if my crust was too thick (it didn't seem to be) or my pan too small (it was a 9" pan), but I couldn't get all the filling to fit in the pan. And, I had no chocolate chips so I used chopped bittersweet and milk chocolate instead. I almost forgot to share with you the secret ingredient! That was espresso powder. I added a teaspoon of it to the filling and it added a wonderful layer of flavor...sweet, mocha flavored filling with crunchy pecans, bits of bittersweet and milk chocolate in a tender buttery tart crust. Heaven on a plate! This one is so good. Try it for yourself. Here's the recipe...

Chocolate Pecan Tart

Candies Pecans
Vegetable cooking spray, for the pan
1 1/4 cups (125 grams) pecan halves
1/2 cup (60 grams) granulated sugar

1/4 cup (25 grams) all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons (340 grams) light corn syrup
3/4 cup (155 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
Pinch of salt
4 large eggs
12 tablespoons (6 ounces; 180 grams) unsalted butter, melted

Tart shell
1/2 cup (95 grams) semisweet chocolate chips
One 9-inch tart shell made from Sweet Tart-Dough (page 249) unbaked
(this is where I used Dorie's recipe)

Make the Pecans: Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Generously spray a baking sheet with vegetable cooking spray. Place the pecans in a bowl.
Place 1/4 cup (60 grams) water and the granulated sugar in a meduim saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, and immediately pour over the pecans.
 Stir the mixture with a silicone spatula, then pour it in the prepared baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, until the pecans are candied and golden brown. Check the pecans every 5 minutes, as they can turn from golden brown to burnt very rapidly. Remove from the oven, and lower the heat to 350 degrees F if you plan on baking the tart immediately. Let the pecans cool fully.

Make the Filling: Place the flour, corn syrup, brown sugar, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until the mixture is well combined. (I added the espresso powder here) Add the eggs and beat until the mixture is smooth, then add the melted butter and mix until it is incorporated. Remove from the mixer. If not using immediately, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Assemble the Tart: Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F if necessary. Place the candied pecans and chocolate chips into the prepared tart shell. Pour the filling over the nuts and chocolate, and bake for about 30 minutes, until the tart shell is golden and the filling is set but still soft in the middle. Remove the tart from the oven and set it aside to cool completely before serving. 

If you haven't made this tart, I highly recommend giving it a try. If you have made it, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Thanks to all the CWF bakers who joined me this month. Be sure to stop by CWF & see who did join me. :)

Oh, one more thing. I must apologize to my fellow group members for not posting last month's finished product. I did make the Chocolate-Coconut Rochers and fully intended to post how they turned out, but one thing led to another and next thing I knew it was the middle of December. I have included a couple of pictures as proof. :D I really liked these the first day, freshly baked and just cooled enough to bite into them without burning my mouth. After that though, they did not improve with age. The next day they were soft, and almost gummy. The day after that...I ended up tossing the few that were left. I only baked half the recipe and probably ate half of those baked the first day, so I didn't feel too bad about tossing two or three away. :}