Thursday, November 19, 2015

Brooke Dojny: Bittersweet Chocolate-Pecan Tart

Because there’s always room on the table for one more dessert.

Photo © Keller + Keller Photography, excerpted from Chowderland. All rights reserved.
I find it fascinating that Thanksgiving traditions differ just a bit from one household to another. In our family, with its mostly English roots, the fare is pretty straight-forward. For starters, we have a rather austere relish tray, spiced nuts, and some years, raw oysters on the half shell — the operating theory being that building up a powerful hunger makes the dinner taste even better. Sneaking snacks of crisp turkey skin in the kitchen is the hard-working cook’s prerogative.

The sit-down dinner consists of roast turkey, cornbread-sage stuffing, two gravies (giblet and not giblet), cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, sweet potato something, green peas, creamed onions for Uncle Charlie, and buttered rutabagas. Color, you say? Freshness? Crunch? Not in the English tradition. We have managed to add a kale gratin for a pleasantly bitter hit, and frisรฉe and grapefruit salad, which provides crispness and a citrus tang. Since the rule is that you can add dishes but never subtract, the groaning board increases in size every year. (We did lose the rolls somewhere along the way, but there’s still some whining because they make such excellent little turkey sandwiches the next day.)

Someone always bakes pies, both pumpkin and apple, and if the crowd is large, we add a chocolate cream (popular with the kids) and a pecan or walnut pie. Mince pie has finally been dropped, thank goodness. For an entire decade, no one ate a single slice.

If a chocolate-and-nut combination appeals to you (and I can’t imagine it wouldn’t), you might like to add this beautiful-looking and scrumptious tart to your dessert buffet. Coffee whipped cream provides the final fillip.

Bittersweet Chocolate-Pecan Tart

6–8 servings

Ingredients:

Pastry
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
4 tablespoons ice water

Filling
2 eggs
½ cup light corn syrup
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
3 ounces (½ cup) bittersweet chocolate chips

Coffee Cream
½ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons coffee-flavored liqueur

Directions:
  1. For the pastry, combine the flour, granulated sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse to blend. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is about the size of peas. Sprinkle with the ice water and pulse, stopping when the dough begins to clump together. Turn out onto a sheet of plastic wrap, gather into a ball, then flatten into a 5-inch disk. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Remove from the refrigerator 10 minutes before rolling out.
  2. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to an 11-inch circle. Ease into a 9-inch tart pan, trim the dough about ½ inch beyond the pan edges, turn the edges under, and press against the sides with your fingertips. Freeze the tart shell for at least 30 minutes. (Can be made up to 2 weeks ahead.)
  3. Preheat the oven to 425°F/220°C.
  4. Bake the tart shell, directly from the freezer, until lightly colored, 13 to 15 minutes. If the pastry starts to puff up, press the bottom gently with a large spatula or oven-mitted hand to flatten. Cool the shell while preparing the filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F/180°C.
  5. For the filling, whisk together the eggs, corn syrup, granulated sugar, and salt in a large bowl until blended. Whisk in the butter and vanilla. Stir in the pecans and chocolate chips. Pour into the cooled tart shell, distributing the nuts and chocolate chips more or less evenly.
  6. Bake the tart in the preheated oven until the edges of the filling are firm when tested with the point of a small knife but the center is not completely set, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on a rack. (Can be held at cool room temperature for up to 8 hours or refrigerated for up to a day or frozen for up to 3 weeks. Reheat in the oven at 350°F/180°C for about 15 minutes before serving.)
  7. For the topping, whip the cream with the confectioners’ sugar using an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Stir in the liqueur. (Can be made up to about 3 hours ahead and refrigerated.)
  8. Serve the tart topped with dollops of the coffee cream.

Recipe excerpted from Chowderland © 2015 by Brooke Dojny. All rights reserved.

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