I had never seen a pecan tree until I moved to Houston; then I noticed the tall, beautiful trees everywhere. Curious, I began to explore uses for pecans, particularly the regional inspired fare such as pecan pie and spiced pecans. I already had a love affair with walnuts, so it was easy to adopt the protein- and antioxidant-packed pecans into my menu. These days you can pick up some amazing freshly harvested local organic pecans from the family-run Rio Grande booth at the Urban Harvest farmers market (2752 Buffalo Speedway on Saturdays). Before my professional baking days, I was a very diffident baker and kept things simple. After almost 20 years, I made this tart recipe purely from memory and loved how it turned out. I still like keeping dessert simple, and this tart celebrates local ingredients and a simple yet classic combination: chocolate, aromatic spices and pecans.
makes 4 tarts | 50 min
200 grams (or 1¾ cups) pecan pieces
50 grams (¼ cup) melted butter
¼ teaspoon salt
300 grams (1¾ cups) dark-chocolate chips
300 grams (1⅓ cup) heavy cream
Pinch of cardamom and cinnamon
Pecan halves, for topping
In a food processor, pulse the pecans until finely chopped. Stir in the melted butter and salt. Divide equally into four 4-inch greased shallow tart pans. Mold the pecan mixture to the tart pans, making sure to press in tightly so the crust does not slide down during baking. Bake them at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until the pecans have a golden color and give off a nutty aroma.
Place the chocolate chips in a shallow bowl and add the cardamom and cinnamon. Bring the heavy cream just to a boil and then pour over the chips. Let this mixture sit for 3-5 minutes then, using a spatula, gently stir together. The mixture should appear shiny, and the chocolate should have melted in the the hot cream.
Pour the ganache into the four baked pecan tart shells. Decorate with pecan halves. Refrigerate tarts for 3-4 hours or overnight. Before serving, take them out of the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes.
ideas / variations
The recipe works just as well with walnuts.
Any sweet aromatic spice will enhance the ganache, from clove (use sparingly) to mace or nutmeg.
The tarts will keep up to a week but are best within 2-3 days.
This recipe is written in the metric system for accuracy. It is highly encouraged that you use a digital scale if available. A good scale is one of the most important tools for baking.