Chocolate Pecan Tart

For folks who like to cook and entertain, Thanksgiving dinner is kind of our Olympics. We are decathletes of starch and sugar and tryptophan, and Turkey Day is the ultimate endurance race. The day after, though, there are no laurel wreaths or medal ceremonies. Instead, we have leftovers. I can think of no better reward, no finer trophy, than a slice of this chocolate pecan tart. Maybe for breakfast.

Imagine a thin layer of chewy-gooey pecan pie filling. Imagine toasty pecans, a crisp, cookie-like crust and a thick ribbon of dark chocolate. Instant tradition, this tart. The shallow pecan-to-filling ratio kept the sweetness from going overboard (traditional pecan pies can be a tooth-ache waiting to happen) but it’s still very much dessert. I’m already thinking about making another for Christmas, though let’s just savor the here and now for a bit, shall we? Enjoy your leftovers, friends, and a happy day-after-Thanksgiving!

Chocolate Pecan Tart
adapted (barely) from Suzanne Goin’s recipe in Bon Appetit, 2012; serves 8-10

  • half recipe Pâte Sucrée
  • flour for dusting
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
  • 2 cups pecan halves
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup dark corn syrup
  • 3 large eggs
  • 11″ fluted tart pan
  • whipped cream (optional)

Bring the  pâte sucrée to cool room temperature while you gather your ingredients. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly flour your worksurface and a rolling pin; roll the dough out (keep adding a little flour with a light hand, so it doesn’t stick) until it’s about 1/8″ thick and an inch larger than your tart pan. Roll the dough onto your rolling pin and transfer to the tart pan. Lightly press into the bottom and sides and roll your pin over the top edge to trim the dough flush with the edges. Chill in the fridge for one hour.

Meanwhile, toast the 1 1/2 cups of chopped pecans (place in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet) for 8 minutes.

With a sharp paring knife, halve the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into a small skillet with the butter. Add the halved bean and warm over medium heat, swirling occasionally, until the butter turns nutty-brown and toasty, about 5 minutes. Take off the heat and discard vanilla bean.

Scatter the toasted, chopped pecans on to the chilled tart dough. Sprinkle the chopped chocolate over top. Place the pecan halves on top in concentric circles, starting at the outer edge. Put tart pan back in the fridge.

In a large bowl, whisk the sugar, salt and corn syrups. Whisk in the warm browned butter, then the eggs, until well combined. Pour the filling evenly into the tart pan, starting in the middle and swirling around to the outer edges.

Bake in the center of the oven until the filling is just set in the middle, about 45-50 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for 15- 20 minutes; remove from the tart pan and let cool completely. Serve at room temperature with whipped cream, if desired.

Note: the tart dough can be made and frozen, well wrapped, up to a month ahead. (Defrost in the fridge overnight.) The tart is best the same day it’s made, but to prep ahead, line your tart pan, toast the pecans and prep the other ingredients the night before so it comes together quickly in the morning.