Bourbon, Maple & Pecan Tart

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    6–8

Appears in

Bake

Bake

By Lorraine Pascale

Published 2017

  • About

I often taste pecan pies when I am a judge on a US food show. I love the addition of bourbon whiskey to a regular pecan pie as it gives it a really big kick. You can of course leave this out if you are giving it to people who don’t drink alcohol or to kiddies. Unlike so many American pie crusts, I don’t include shortening in my pastry recipe, because I find that butter gives it a richer taste.

Ingredients

  • 250 g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 125 g butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 2 egg yolks
  • big pinch of salt
  • 1–2 tbsp ice-cold water

For the filling

  • 175 g pecan nuts
  • 3 eggs
  • 90 g butter
  • 100 g soft dark brown sugar
  • 100 g golden syrup
  • 50 g maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp sea salt flakes
  • 2 tbsp bourbon whiskey
  • seeds of ½ vanilla pod or 1 tsp vanilla extract

Equipment

  • food processor (optional)
  • 10 × 34cm rectangular loose-bottomed flan tin, about 2.5cm deep
  • ceramic baking beans or dried pulses or rice

Method

To make the pastry, put the flour into a food processor with the butter and blitz until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Then add the egg yolks and salt and blitz again until the dough forms a ball. If the mixture still looks a bit dry then add the ice-cold water, but add 2 tablespoons at the very most – you want a soft dough that is not sticky. If you are doing this by hand then just add the egg yolks and then, using a knife, stir the mixture until it comes together, adding the water if necessary.

Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and bring the pastry together with your hands by squidging it together into a ball. Wrap the ball in cling film, flatten it a little bit and pop it into the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up. This helps the mixture of stretchy proteins (gluten) in the pastry to relax, making it easier to roll out the pastry. It also stops the pastry from shrinking in the oven.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan 160°C/350°F/gas 4). Once the pastry has rested in the fridge, use it to line the flan tin. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a shape that is a little bigger than the flan tin, about 14 × 40cm in size and slightly thinner than a £1 coin (3mm). Put the rolling pin in the centre of the pastry and fold half of the pastry over it, then lift up the rolling pin and transfer the pastry to the tin.

Take a little ball of excess pastry, dip it in flour and use this to gently ease the pastry into the corners. Another tip is to dip the handle of a wooden spoon in the flour and use it to very gently push the pastry into the tin. Spend some time lining the tin if you can, as this really does make a difference once the tart is cooked.

Be really gentle with the pastry, because if it is stretched at all then it may shrink or ‘sink’ in the tin while it cooks in the oven – it will still taste great, but it will not be even in size.

Once you have lined the tin, pop it back into the fridge for 15 minutes to let the gluten relax a little more.

Meanwhile, sprinkle the pecan nuts on a baking sheet and bake for 8–10 minutes, or until they are just beginning to colour and are lightly toasted. Keep an eye on them as they can catch and burn very quickly. Once cooked, remove from the oven and set aside 100g of the most perfect whole ones to use for decoration. Roughly chop the remaining 75g to use in the filling.

Once the pastry has relaxed for a second time, remove it from the fridge and using a very sharp small knife, cut off the excess pastry. Cut a piece of baking parchment into a circle, about 35cm in diameter. Scrunch it up so that it will sit in the tin, then open it up and use it to line the pastry. Fill it with ceramic baking beans, dried pulses or rice, making sure that they come right up the sides. Place the tart on a baking sheet (this makes it easier to move the tin around) and bake for 15 minutes, until the pastry looks set but not coloured.

Carefully remove the beans and baking parchment. Separate one of the eggs and set aside the yolk. Then brush the base of the pastry with the egg white to form a seal for the filling. Pop the pastry case back in to the oven for another 5 minutes, or until the base is firm and the pastry feels sandy to the touch, and then take it out of the oven and set it aside.

As the pastry cooks, make the filling. Put the butter, sugar, golden syrup, maple syrup and salt together in a pan over a medium–high heat, bring it just to the boil and then turn down the heat and let it simmer for 3–5 minutes over a very low heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the bourbon whiskey and vanilla and then leave it to cool down to body temperature. Add the eggs and reserved egg yolk one at a time, whisking well between each addition, and then fold in the roughly chopped toasted pecan nuts.

Pour the filling over the top to fill the pastry base. Arrange the 100g of whole pecan nuts into a lovely pattern on top.

Place the tart back on the baking sheet and bake in the oven for 15–20 minutes, or until the mixture is set but still has a little wobble to it.

Once baked, remove the tart from the oven and leave to cool slightly. Serve warm with ice cream or crème Chantilly.