Recipe: Coffee Caramel Pecan Tart
Coffee: Nizza on the stovetop
Makes one 9 or 10-inch tart
Download the pdf of this recipe here.
As the only tree nut indigenous to the South, the pecan has been part of that region’s cooking history since the earliest colonists met the Native Americans. But the rise of pecan pie didn’t come until the 20th century, when it appeared as a product-based recipe printed on the back of the Karo corn syrup can, circa 1930. We decided to do away with the corn syrup in favor of coffee-caramel spiked pastry cream, turning pie into a tart. Since the peak harvest season of pecans (October to December) coincides with the launch of our new Traditional Coffee Caramel, there’s no better time to try what promises to be one of our favorite holiday desserts.
A little fact: Georgia has been the nation’s largest producer of pecans since the late 1800s and the state’s growers donated enough pecan trees to create wood handles for more than ten thousand torches carried during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
One 9 or 10-inch circle of pie dough, from your favorite recipe or there’s no shame in rolling out a flaky Pillsbury Refrigerator Piecrust (sold boxed in the refrigerator case of your supermarket)
For the pecans:
1-½ cups pecan halves (pick out the nice unbroken ones)
½ Tablespoon melted unsalted butter
1-teaspoon raw sugar
Pinch kosher salt
For the coffee caramel pastry cream:
2 Cups whole milk
¼ cup plus 1 Tablespoon sugar
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
2 large egg yolks
Pinch kosher salt
3 Tablespoons butter, diced, kept chilled
¼ cup La Colombe Traditional Coffee Caramel.
Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
Blind bake the pie dough/pastry shell:
Press the dough into a 9 or 10-inch tart form and dock the bottom all over, using the tines of a fork. (Docking means pricking holes to allow the steam to escape, keeping the crust crisp and preventing bubbles). Place a piece of parchment over the dough lined tart form (extending over the sides) and fill with dry beans or pie weights (which will keep the shell the same thickness all the way around and prevent the sides from shrinking down during baking).
Bake in hot oven until well-browned and crisp (pull up an edge of the parchment to check the middle), 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Remove the beans or pie weights (by lifting the parchment paper). If you went with beans, save them to use again for the same purpose.
Prepare the pecans:
Place the pecans in a bowl and drizzle with the melted butter then sprinkle over with the sugar and salt over. Gently toss to coat the nuts (you want them to stay whole). Lay the pecans out in an even flat layer on a parchment or aluminum lined baking tray and place in the hot oven to toast, about 10 minutes.
Prepare the pastry cream:
Place the milk and ¼ cup of sugar in a medium sauce pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar.
In a small bowl, combine the egg yolks with the second measure of sugar (1 Tablespoon), cornstarch, and pinch of salt, whisking until smooth and well combined.
When the milk comes to a simmer remove from the heat, slowly pour a ladleful of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture while continuously whisking. This brings the temperature of the yolks up slowly so they won’t scramble. Repeat with a second ladleful of the hot milk and then reverse the process, drizzling the now hot egg mixture into the remaining hot milk, whisking to combine. Switch to a rubber spatula and place the pan back over the heat. Bring the mixture to a simmer while continuously stirring and scraping the bottom (it will thicken as it heats). Remove the pan from the heat and continue to stir for a minute until temperature equalizes. Add the butter and coffee caramel, mixing to incorporate.
Scrape the pastry cream out into a flat container and place plastic wrap over the entire surface, pressing it down gently (to touch the surface) to prevent a skin from forming. Place in refrigerator until thoroughly chilled, 4 to 6 hours.
Assemble the tart:
Layer the cream into the tart shell, smoothing it into an even layer. Place the toasted pecan halves onto the cream filling. First form an outside ring, and continue with interior concentric circles until the entire surface is covered. Serve immediately or keep chilled for later use.