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Pecan Custard Tart Tested Recipe

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Pecan Custard Tart Recipe

Although Pecan Pie is a staple at most Thanksgiving gatherings, a common complaint is that it is just too rich and sweet. One way to solve this problem is to make a Pecan Custard Tart which replaces the classic sweet and chewy pecan filling  with a smooth and creamy custard filling made with cream cheese, brown sugar, eggs, cream, and toasted pecans. I love this combination, the sweet and creamy custard filling and the pieces of caramel flavored, buttery, soft-textured pecans inside a crisp buttery crust. A Pecan Custard Tart is great either warm or cold and you could even drizzle a little melted chocolate over the cooled tart, if you dare.

 

This Pecan Custard Tart is made in a tart pan instead of a pie plate. This is done for a couple of reasons. One reason is so you can remove the tart easily from the pan which makes for a nice presentation. Second, I agree with Rose Levy Beranabum who says in her 'The Pie and Pastry Bible' that she makes a pecan pie in a tart pan "so that every bite contains the same amount of crust, nuts, and filling". Now, while you can use any prebaked pastry crust, the recipe I give here is for one of my favorite, a Sweet Pastry Crust. Unlike the American's flaky pie crust that contains shortening, this tart is made with butter and also contains one egg. This gives the crust a rich sweet buttery flavor and its' cookie-like crumb is perfect with the pecan custard filling. You will also notice that while the chopped pecans are spread on the bottom of the pastry crust before the filling is added, the pecans do rise to the surface during baking. This Pecan Custard Tart is great either warm or cold and you could even drizzle a little melted chocolate over the cooled tart, if you dare.

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Sweet Pastry Crust. Place the butter in your mixer and beat until softened.  Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Gradually add the egg, beating just until incorporated. Add the flour mixture all at once and mix just until it forms a ball. Flatten dough into disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 20 minutes or until firm.

Once the pastry has chilled sufficiently, remove from refrigerator and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll the pastry into a 13 inch (32 cm) circle. To prevent the pastry from sticking to the counter and to ensure uniform thickness, keep lifting up and turning the pastry a quarter turn as you roll.

When the pastry is rolled to the desired size, lightly roll pastry around your rolling pin, dusting off any excess flour as you roll. Unroll onto the top of your tart pan. Never pull the pastry or you will get shrinkage. Gently lay in pan and lightly press the pastry onto bottom and up the sides of the pan. Roll your rolling pin over top of pan to get rid of excess pastry. Prick bottom of dough (this will prevent the dough from puffing up as it bakes). Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes to chill the butter and to rest the gluten.

To prebake the tart shell:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Line the unbaked pastry shell with parchment paper or aluminum foil.  Fill tart pan with pie weights or beans, making sure the weights are to the top of the pan and evenly distributed over the entire surface. Bake crust for 20 to 25 minutes or until the crust is dry and lightly browned.  Remove weights and cool crust on wire rack. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Place pecans on a baking sheet and bake for 6-8 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant.  Cool on a wire rack and then chop coarsely.

FOR FILLING:  In a food processor or electric mixer place the cream cheese and sugar and process until smooth.  Add eggs, one at a time, and process until thoroughly combined.  Add vanilla extract and half-and-half cream and process until well blended and smooth. 

Evenly distribute the chopped pecans over the bottom of the pre baked tart shell. Gently pour the filling over the pecans and bake for approximately 25 minutes or until filling is set.   Transfer tart to wire rack to cool. Serve warm with softly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if desired. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Makes 1 - 9 inch (23 cm) tart

Sweet Pastry Crust:

1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all purpose flour

1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 large egg

Custard:

1 1/4 cups (125 grams) pecans

3 ounces (85 grams) cream cheese, room temperature

1/3 cup (70 grams) light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2/3 cup (160 ml) half-and-half cream (light cream) (Half-and-half cream is a mixture of cream and whole milk and contains 10 - 12% butterfat.)

 

 

 

 
 
     
 

 

 

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