Forgiving and ultra-decadent, this easy bourbon pecan tart is the perfect finale to your holiday meal!
What makes this recipe easy? It’s made in a tart pan.
In case you aren’t familiar with the glorious art of tart-making, you’ll soon find out just why they are so much easier than pies.
I’ll give you a hint: it has to do with the stupid crust. Or, as the fancy people call it, the “pastry.”
Alright, I’ll tell you. The thing about working with a tart pan is that no matter how much you accidentally abuse and hack up your pastry dough, you can still just squish it into the tart pan and it comes out looking beautiful.
(pssst – tart pans are also super useful for making quiches because the bottom of the pan pops right out, meaning you won’t have to try to scoop the quiche out of a pie plate)
With pies, you have to roll the dough out in a perfect circle and make sure it ALL stays together so you can flute the edges. Put DOWN the Martha Stewart Living and pour yourself a mug of hot buttered rum.
Up next is a super long explanation about the ins and outs of making pastry dough. If you’re already a pro, just skip down to the next section!
PASTRY DOUGH FROM SCRATCH
I know it seems intimating to make the pastry dough from scratch, but all you need is a bowl, a pastry blender (or fork if you’re really desperate), and a rolling pin. I use a French rolling pin solely because it looks pretty up on my shelf and it makes people think I’m a pastry wizard.
A lot of the steps in the pastry-making process may seem really arbitrary if you don’t understand the two main rules of making pastry. The rules are:
1. DON’T overwork the pastry.
2. Keep the dough cold at all times.
Let me explain why these two rules are so important.
When you make pasta or pizza dough, you spend a lot of time kneading the dough, while when you make pastry you only want to work it until it just comes together. Why? Kneading the dough develops the gluten in it, which gives the end product a chewy texture.
You really don’t want your tart or pie crust to be chewy (ewwww), so when you combine the liquid ingredients with the flour and butter mixture, work it only until it comes together to form one ball of dough.
The reason you want to keep the dough cold at all times is to prevent the butter from melting. You start with really cold butter, work it into the flour until it looks like coarse crumbs, then you start adding liquid.
When you add the liquid, the recipe calls for ice water. This doesn’t mean cold water from the tap, this literally means make yourself a glass of ice water and then dip your tablespoon measure in it. The dough also sits in the fridge for an hour before you use it, ensuring that the butter is kept nice and cold.
Why on earth does it matter if the butter is cold? You want the butter to stay separate from the dough so that when you roll it out you can see streaks of butter throughout the pastry. When it cooks, the butter melts (finally!) between layers of dough and creates that beautiful flakiness you are looking for in a pastry crust.
Okay, pastry school is OUT for the day. Let’s talk filling.
Don’t worry, I promise it is way easier than the dough. Here’s what you do:
1. Put everything in a bowl and stir it together.
2. Add pecans and stir again.
Ta-da! Filling is done.
This is the perfect dessert to bring to a holiday party, or to serve after a family meal. I like to cut mine on the diagonal so it looks like little pie pieces (I’m sneaky like that).
Here’s Your Recipe!
For the Pastry Dough
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 7 tablespoons unsalted cold butter, cut into 1/4" pieces
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 1/2 tablespoons ice water
For the Filling
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2/3 cup dark corn syrup
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs
- 2/3 cup pecan halves
Prepare the Crust
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, and salt. Use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, vanilla, and ice water. Pour into the flour mixture and use your hands to gently work the ingredients together into a ball of dough.*
- Shape the dough into a disc and cover with plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge for one hour.
- Let rest on counter for 10 minutes prior to using. Roll the dough out on a floured surface until 1/8" thick.**
- Use a spatula to remove the dough from the floured surface and lay it over the tart pan. Use your fingers to shape the dough into the pan, pinching off any excess dough which falls over the sides of the pan. Use the excess dough to fill in any empty spaces in the pan.
- Chill the prepared crust in the fridge for 10 minutes.
Prepare the filling.
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a large bowl, whisk together all filling ingredients except for the pecans.
- Fold the pecans into the mixture.
- Pour the prepared filling into the chilled tart crust.
- Place an oven rack in the center position, and another rack directly underneath it.
- Place the tart on the center rack and place a rimmed baking sheet below it on the bottom rack (to catch any drips).
- Bake 45 minutes. Let cool on wire rack for 10 minutes.
You may need to add more ice water if the dough is too crumbly to come together. Avoid overworking the dough.
* Try to roll the dough into the shape of the tart pan you are using.