By TRACY DARUE for the Flathead Beacon
I have to admit that I’m not much of a pie person so each year for Thanksgiving, I make a pumpkin cheesecake for dessert. This year, I’m going to break my tradition and make a pecan caramel tart. The dough can be made and frozen two weeks in advance.
This recipe starts with a short dough crust, which is rich, tender, and very buttery. The dough should be made at least one hour, and ideally one day, before rolling. Here’s the schedule I use:
- Day One: Mix short dough
- Day Two: Roll or press short dough into tart pan. Freeze.
- Day Three: Defrost short dough for four hours in the refrigerator. Dock crust. Bake the crust until golden brown.
- Day Four: Make caramel sauce. Assemble tart.
You may eat the tart as soon as the caramel sets. Store at room temperature (a plus if you, like me, find yourself short of refrigerator space).
Short Dough Crust
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 7 oz. softened unsalted butter
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cups flour
Place butter and sugar in bowl of a mixer with the paddle attachment. Blend briefly. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl. Add egg and vanilla. Blend. Add flour and blend just until it comes together. Do not overmix.
Form dough into ball and place on piece of plastic wrap. Gently press into a disk. Cover completely with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least one hour or freeze for later use.
Roll tart shell: Remove dough from refrigerator and let warm until slightly pliable, about 15 minutes. Flour work surface and top of disk. Roll dough to thickness of 1/4 to 1/8 inch. Pick up dough in one piece and place in tart pan. Press dough into pan and up the sides of pan as evenly as possible. Trim edges by pressing dough from fluted edge. Prick the bottom of the dough all over with a fork. Refrigerate for at least one hour before baking. (The shell may be frozen at this point).
Bake shell: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place a piece of parchment paper on top of shell and fill with dried beans. (This weighs down the dough while baking to prevent blistering. If you don’t have dried beans, you may omit. The crust may blister some). Bake until golden brown, 20 to 40 minutes.
Caramel Sauce Filling
- 8 oz. butter
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Place butter in heavy bottomed saucepan and melt over medium heat. Add honey, sugar and brown sugar. Increase heat to medium high. Stir to dissolve ingredients. Once mixture boils, continue cooking for approximately eight minutes without stirring. Remove from heat and let cool for five minutes. Carefully stir in heavy cream.
- 1 1/2 cups pecan halves
Place pecans in baked tart shell. Pour hot caramel mixture over pecans. Rearrange pecans evenly. Let cool to set.
If desired, you can garnish the tart with sweetened whip cream, chocolate sauce or chocolate shavings.
Tart prepared by FVCC culinary student Ann Ward. For more information about the Culinary Institute of Montana at FVCC, visitwww.culinaryinstituteofmt.com.