I am not a huge fan of pecan pie. If given the option between pecan pie and a fruit or cream pie, the pecan pie is going to lose every time. Or, until found myself, on the eve of Thanksgiving, with a spare Pillsbury roll-out pie crust.
I was out of pumpkin purée, apples, and cherries and it was too late to make a cream pie from scratch. But, I had a big container of pecan halves, a bag of brown sugar, and a bottle of light Karo syrup (oh, the horror). I thought I’d make a pecan pie.
Every pie pan in the house was in use, but way in the back of a cabinet I spotted a tart pan. I quickly switched the plan to making a pecan tart. Already in a two-day cooking coma, I was completely overwhelmed when searching online for a recipe. What I found were photos of shiny, sticky, gooey pecan pies, precisely the ones I avoid. Nestled among those, were pictures of pecan pie cookie-bars that looked really good. I noted the approximate amounts of the ingredients, and used those to create the filling for my tart. I wasn’t even sure this was going to work, but I had a spare pie crust on Thanksgiving eve. It was go time.
Flying by the seat of my pants and a couple of pecan cookie-bar recipes, I made the most delicious pecan dessert I have ever eaten. It was not too sticky, not grainy, or shiny. The crust was a perfect receptacle for the pecans and “caramelly” filling. The pecan halves, painstakingly placed in a perfect spiral on the bottom of the pan, rose to the top during baking where the sugar crystallized giving the tart a light crunch.
I would jokingly say that I could have eaten the whole thing myself were it not for the fact that I practically did. And, I would do it all again. I still have pumpkin and cherry pies in the fridge. One small sliver of pecan tart is hidden far in the back of the fridge where it waits for the moment Michael falls asleep tonight. Then it’s all mine, until I make it again at Christmas.
Come to mama…
- 1 prepared pie crust
- 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 cup light Karo syrup
- ½ cup butter (1 stick)
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups pecan halves
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Press the pie crust into a 9 inch tart pan covering the bottom and side. Cut off excess crust with a sharp knife. Line the pecan in a single layer on the bottom of the crust in circles, getting smaller as you go to the center. Refrigerate while you make the filling.
- In a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan add the brown sugar, Karo syrup, and butter. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring gently. Remove from heat. Using a ladle, remove a small amount of the hot mixture. Slowly pour the hot mixture into the beaten eggs, whisking constantly. Repeat a couple of times until half the hot mixture and the eggs are combined without scrambling the eggs. Add this to the remaining hot mixture and return to a boil. Boil gently for two minutes, whisking gently. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and allow to cool slightly.
- Remove the prepared shell from the refrigerator place it an a baking sheet. Slowly pour the still hot, but not boiling filling over the top of the pecans. Hint: Use a heat-proof measuring cup with a spout and pour slowly. The pecans will float to the top, but if you pour very slowly they will stay in the circle pattern. Carefully place the baking try onto the center rack of the oven. Bake for 20--25 minutes until the filling just jiggles slightly when you move the pan. Remove from the oven, cool and completely on the baking tray. Refrigerate overnight or at least a few hours until the filling is completely set. Cut into small wedges for serving.