Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A New Twist on a Holiday Favorite

Pecan Pie is a true Thanksgiving specialty. Though I didn't grow up making pecan pie with my family (my dad was in charge of the most delicious pumpkin pie...), a nutty pie has in recent years had a spot at our thanksgiving table. I usually make the pecan pie and I'm still working on refining my own recipe. I like to use more "natural" and unrefined sweeteners, like honey and maple syrup, which not only cuts the cloying sweetness, but also deepens and enhances the nut flavor. I'm interested in trying some rosemary in the mixture, and possibly "mixing" the nuts - from pecans, to a blend of almonds, hazelnut, and walnuts.

For a recent feast of food at school, I and seven classmates masterminded a "Wild Harvest" themed luncheon, featuring "foraged" foods like root vegetables, greens, venision, boar, trout, and much more. It was only fitting that one dessert be a nutty pie/tart to complement our dessert, a cranberry apple "cake." I am a huge fan of Once Upon A Tart, down on Sullivan Street in NYC - their biscotti, sandwiches, cookies - all utterly heavenly! I was quite delighted to find they feature a chocolate walnut tart in their cookbook. Our second dessert it will be!

The recipe itself is very straightforward, and not too sweet or custardy. My one complaint (and I'm sure this is because I was using short sided french tart rings over a cast iron pan and making 6x the normal batch!) was that the filling did boil over on two of the tarts (maybe it was much hotter on lower shelves, too - I think that is most likely). Though the tarts were not ruined, these two tarts definitely made me worry for a time. Having made multiple tarts over the past couple of months, I also noticed that this dough, albeit very tender and fragile, doesn't stick at all! I liked to put lots of chocolate drizzle on top of the tarts (though next time, I would use dark chocolate!).

Once Upon A Tart's Chocolate Walnut Tart
2 large eggs
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c honey
1/2 c plus 2 tbsp light corn syrup
2 tbsp melted butter, room temp
1/4 c light cream
2 1/4 c walnut halves
1 unbaked flaky tart crust (9", 1" sides or taller)
1/2 c dark chocolate pieces
1 tsp solid veg shortening

1. Preheat oven to 375
2. Whisk the eggs and sugar in a big bowl to combine. Whisk in honey and corn syrup, then the butter, cream, and nuts. Pour into tart shell.
3. Place tart in center of oven and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until lightly golden and the filling is just set.
4. Let tart cool completely
5. While tart cools, heat the shortening and chocolate til just melted.
6. Cut tart into 8 wedges. Drizzle chocolate over wedges (alternatively, you can also drizzle chocolate over the uncut tart).

Serve with vanilla ice cream or gelato -- honey thyme is best!

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