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Chocolate Tart with Pecan Crust


Pecan Crust:
3/4 cup (3 ounces) pecans toasted for 10 minutes at 350°
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup whole wheat pastry or white whole wheat flour
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
8 tablespoons (1 sticks) unsalted, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, chilled
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 oz bittersweet chocolate
1 cup cream or half n half
1 heaping tablespoon corn syrup
**2 tablespoons liquor or liqueur of your choice, such as Port, Cognac or Cointreau, (optional)


1. To make the crust, pulse the pecans and 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar in a food processor fitted with the metal chopping blade until the nuts are finely chopped but not oily. Measure out and reserve 1/2 cup of the pecan mixture for the filling. Leave the remaining pecan mixture in the food processor.

2. Add the flour, remaining 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, the cinnamon, and the salt to the food processor and pulse briefly to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Mix together the egg and vanilla in a small bowl. With the machine running, add the egg mixture through the feed tube and process just until the dough comes together. Do not overprocess. Spread the dough evenly over the surface of a 9 1 / 2 inch tart pan, pressing evenly and firmly along the bottom, corners and sides of the pan, then prick a few holes with the tines of a fork to allow trapped air to escape. Refrigerate the crust for a few minutes or pop it in the freezer just before baking. This helps keep the butter from melting and encourages absorption into the flour.

3. Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat to 375°F. Top the aluminum foil-covered dough with aluminum pie weights or dried beans. Place the pan on a baking sheet. Bake until the edges of the dough are lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Remove the baking sheet with the pan from the oven. Remove the paper with the weights. Lower the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for 10 - 12 minutes more, until the crust is set. Cool completely before filling with the chocolate mixture.

4. To make the filling, place the chocolate in a medium bowl and heat the cream over medium heat just until scalded (small bubbles will appear at the edge). Pour over the chocolate and let sit until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the corn syrup for a glossy sheen or the liqueur, simply for taste, and stir until smooth. While still warm, pour into the cooled tart shell. Sprinkle the outer edge of the chocolate with the reserved pecan mixture, and exotic sea salt if desired, and cool until set, about 30 minutes. Keep at room temperature the day it is made. If refrigerated, tart will lose its sheen.

Makes one 9 1/2 inch tart
**Liquor is optional


I knew it was time for a really rich and decadent dessert - yet still grounded in a base of whole grains, as if anyone will notice! The crust is pressed, not rolled, thus avoiding the tearing that often happens with a whole grain crust. The pecan crust and ground pecan garnish add another layer of flavor to this rich and creamy chocolate tart. If you are a fan of salty caramel, serve with a sprinkling of flaky sea salt, such as fleur de sel or Maldon, to accentuate the taste and cut the richness.