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Holiday-Perfect Candied Pecan Tart

By Charlotte on November 16, 2016 2:31 PM

By Gail Monaghan, author It's All in the Timing 

Many--myself included--view dessert as the jewel in Thanksgiving's crown, and I believe that any serious holiday buffet requires several. If you feel overwhelmed, it's easy to purchase desserts or delegate them to others. If, however, you plan to prepare only one sweet treat yourself, make sure it's the Candied Pecan Tart. The recipe is adapted from a drop-dead delicious walnut tart I used to adore at March, Wayne Nish's now closed restaurant on Manhattan's Sutton Place. Unlike traditional pecan pies, it is almost pure nuts and contains no starchy filler.

If pecans aren't your thing, try hazelnuts, almonds or a nut mixture. (Photo © Julia Becker, courtesy of Agate Publishing)

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Candied Pecan Tart

Yield: 12 small servings

Two days before:

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Place pecans on a sheet pan and toast for 10 minutes, or until very hot. Be careful they don't burn.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter with the brown and granulated sugars and salt. Add the honey and simmer for 5 minutes, or until lightly caramelized or a candy thermometer registers 250°F. Remove from the heat. Add the cream and the still-hot nuts. Stir well. If necessary, return to low heat to reliquify and combine.

Pour the nut mixture into the prebaked pie crust, even it out, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the center bubbles a bit. Let rest for 20 minutes before serving or cool completely, wrap in foil and store at room temperature.

Serve:

If reheating, preheat the oven to 350°F.

After finishing the main course:

If reheating, bake for about 5 minutes.

Serve warm or at room temperature with the vanilla ice cream, if using.

Tip!

Other than many fresh fruit pies, most pies can be assembled 24 hours in advance and stashed in the fridge to be baked off when needed. This is also true for lasagnas and other baked pastas, many of which can even be frozen for 3 months--and then thawed--before baking.

Tip!

This pie divides into 12 very small pieces. However, with ice cream and crème caramel--let alone samplings of other buffet desserts--this should be plenty. If, however, this is the only dessert you are serving for 12 people, you might consider doubling the recipe and baking 2 pies. 


Sweet Pie Crust

Yield: 1 pie crust

This is my favorite sweet dough recipe for pies, tarts and crostatas. Make the dough, roll it out, and refrigerate or freeze it raw for future use. Or, when you require a prebaked crust, follow the instructions below for baking. You can also freeze prebaked crusts, but keep in mind that they are more fragile and take up more room in the freezer than rolled out raw ones. On the other hand, they do allow you to avoid the hassle of blind baking last-minute.

Combine flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until pea-size clumps form. With the food processor off, pour 3 1/2 tablespoons of the ice water evenly over the mixture. Pulse until no dry patches remain, taking care that the dough does not form a ball. Grab a handful of dough and squeeze. If the dough will not cohere, add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of water and pulse to incorporate. Remove the dough from food processor and form into a ball.

Flatten the ball into a disk on a large piece of parchment paper. Place a second piece of parchment paper on top and using a rolling pin, roll into a 13-inch to 14-inch circle. At this point, you can wrap the crust in foil and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 6 months.

Fit the dough into a 10-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. To form a thick and sturdy edge, fold the excess dough inward and press against the sides of the tart pan and trim away excess dough. Refrigerate the unbaked crust at least 1 hour or up to 3 days or freeze, well wrapped in foil, for up to 6 months before baking.

Once the crust has rested, adjust a rack to the lower third position, and preheat the oven to 400°F. Cover the crust with a sheet of aluminum foil large enough to loosely fold the edges of the foil over edges of the crust. Fill with raw dried beans, rice or pie weights, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the dough is no longer shiny (peek under the foil to check).

Remove the crust from oven. Discard the foil (the cooled beans or rice can be re-used as pie weights) and prick the crust all over with a fork. Return the crust to the oven and bake for 5 to 10 minutes, or until deeply golden. Remove from oven and let cool. (If planning to rebake with pie filling, bake only until just beginning to color, as the crust will continue cooking during the second baking.)

Store the prebaked crust, well wrapped, in the freezer for at least 3 months or at room temperature for up to 1 week. If filling and rebaking, the crust will recrisp as it bakes. If filling and not baking again, recrisp in a 350°F oven for 5 minutes and cool before using.

Tip!

If you're worried about your pie crust sagging or shrinking, add a large pinch of baking powder to the dough to help the crust expand into the pie pan.

Tip!

Brushing an uncooked pie crust with beaten egg--whole egg, yolks or whites--before pouring in the filling will create a moisture barrier between the crust, and the filling and help keep the crust from getting soggy.

***
Gail M.jpgGail Monaghan, author It's All in the Timing (Photo © Gary Duff, courtesy of Agate Publishing)

About the Author

Gail Monaghan is a food writer, editor and cooking teacher who lives and works in New York City. She writes regular features for the Wall Street Journal's "Off Duty" section, hosts the Wall Street Journal Digital Network web series Cooking Confidential with Gail Monaghan and has been a regular guest on ABC's The Chew. She has written several cookbooks, including Perfect Picnics for All Seasons, Some Like It Hot, Lost Desserts and The Entrées. Find her at www.gailmonaghan.com.

Recipe Excerpted from

It's All in the Timing:

Plan, Cook and Serve Great Meals with Confidence*

Author: Gail Monaghan

Publisher: Agate Surrey

Penned: Nov. 15, 2016

Its All In the Timing.jpgWhat's Inside: Instructions that make it easy to schedule every step of meal preparation from baking ahead to serving dessert. This one-of-a-kind guide contains 22 applause-worthy menus from acclaimed food writer and cooking instructor Gail Monaghan. Think full Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas meal plans as well as ideas for everything from quick family suppers to elegant entertaining.

Even better, each menu includes a timeline showing when to start preparing individual dishes, a selection of Gail's favorite recipes (like Creamed Spinach Gratin, Mini Molten Chocolate Cakes and about 130 others) and invaluable tips. You'll discover secrets to getting a head start, substituting ingredients, storing your creations, and much, much more. Great for newbies as well as experienced cooks, this delightful collection takes the guesswork out of serving impressive meals on time and at the right temperature.

Time Out: 320 pages

Available: $29.95 hard cover at Amazon and other book retailers

* Reprinted with permission from It's All in the Timing by Gail Monaghan, Agate Surrey, 2016

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