Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Caramel Pecan Tarts

by Darla

I know that the gym is supposed to be all judgement free and everything, but my head isn’t. I try to make it be, but it never works out all that well for me.

I’m not mean, though. I mean, I don’t judge anyone for the way they look, or whatever. I think if you’re in the gym, trying to be healthy, more power to you. Period.

But.

When you’re in the gym and you feel like you have to be all up on me in zumba, I judge you. Harshly. I mean, seriously, there is a whole room of open places for you to stand in, why do you have to be in my personal space? I don’t need your hot cardio breath in my face or your giant feet crushing my toes. Just saying.

Also, I’m going to judge you if you feel the need to drive around the gym parking lot for 15 minutes, looking for the closest parking spot. Obviously, there are some exceptions. I mean, hello pregnant ladies, the elderly, and the injured. You are allowed to want to walk less, even at the gym.

If, however, you are perfectly healthy/able, do you not see the irony in circling the parking lot at the gym, so that you don’t have to walk as far? Seriously. Judging. It’s happening right here.

Finally, if you walk away from a treadmill and leave it on a low setting so that when I go to step up onto it I spill most of my water all over myself and the treadmill, and almost fall flat on my face and get treadmill burn because seriously, who checks an empty treadmill to see if it’s on??, you are not only judged, you are also now my new arch nemesis.

Fortunately, the gym being judgement free and all, I know that nobody was judging me for being the dummy who stepped onto a moving treadmill and almost bit it. Right? Well, probably some people judged me for it…and laughed. I probably would have.

Whatever. They don’t have caramel pecan tarts at home waiting to console them and I do. So neener neener.

I did a super simple, press-in crust for these tarts, rather than lots of rolling and such. You just mix all of the ingredients together, press the dough into the pan, chill, then bake. See? Easy. (Tart pans from Anthropologie)

While the crusts cooled, I got busy making the filling, starting with the pecans. I used whole pecans, because I like the look and texture, but if you want smaller bites, then you can certainly chop them up. Just spread the pecans on a baking sheet and toast in a 350 degree oven for at least 10 minutes.

Once the pecans are toasted, it’s time to make some caramel…the best stuff on earth. I used my basic caramel recipe, then stirred the pecans in; more easiness.

After these had cooled a bit, I decided to drizzle them with some dark chocolate for a little more depth, but you can forego this step and just top the tart with some homemade whipped cream or creamy vanilla ice cream.

And more caramel. Of course.

Seeing as how I’m completely obsessed with caramel, this dessert makes me pretty much thrilled. I mean, the filling is caramel and pecans. That’s it. How much more could a caramel lover ask for?

If you’re not a big fan of pecans, you can easily substitute any other nut, like hazelnut or cashews. They all taste delicious, and the crust is great with them all. Enjoy!

Caramel Pecan Tart
Makes 1 9-inch tart

Ingredients

FOR THE CRUST
1/2 cup (1 stick or 113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup (85 grams) brown sugar, packed
1 egg yolk
1 1/4 cups (191 grams) all-purpose flour (or GF flour for gluten free)
pinch of salt

FOR THE FILLING
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (63 ml) water
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1/4 cup (1/2 stick or 57 grams) unsalted butter, softened, cut into 4 pieces
1/2 cup (125 ml) heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups pecans, whole or chopped, toasted (at 350 degrees for 10 minutes)

To make the crust: In a medium bowl, combine the flour, and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar together until creamy; scrape the sides of the bowl and beat in the egg yolk. Sprinkle the flour mixture into the bowl and turn the mixer on to low.mix until the dough just comes together and is uniform in color. If needed, mix lightly by hand to get rid of any butter or flour clumps. Chill for 15 minutes.

Once chilled, press the dough into a nine inch tart pan. It’s easiest when you use the heel of your hand to spread the dough out, then press it into the corners and up the sides with your thumbs. Try to get the dough as evenly spread out as you can. Chill in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (180 C).

Bake the chilled tart for 30 minutes. *Remember, if you have a tart pan with a removable bottom, when handling the tart, hold it by the sides of the pan. Allow the tart shell to cool completely before filling.

To make the filling: Make the caramel-  Place the water, sugar, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan set over medium heat and stir once to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until it reaches a light honey color; remove from heat. Stir in the salt. Very carefully, add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon. Next, slowly pour the cream into the mixture, being very careful (the mixture will expand rapidly and sputter). If there are any clumps in your caramel, place the pan over low heat and stir until the clumps melt. Stir in the prepared pecans and cook the mixture gently over medium heat until the caramel deepens slightly in color (a dark honey color), about two or three minutes.

Pour the filling into the cooled tart shell and bake (at 350 degrees) for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the caramel is bubbling. Place the tart on a wire cooling rack and cool completely before serving. Drizzle with dark chocolate, if desired. Serve with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Recipe by Darla

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jill September 5, 2012 at 4:12 pm

Oh, my gosh. These look so good! And so cute! I love pecan anything. Yum!

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2 Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar September 5, 2012 at 4:30 pm

These tarts just look plain awesome. LOVE it!

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3 Andrea R September 5, 2012 at 6:04 pm

Looks yummy! And the little tart pans are adorable!

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4 Laura September 5, 2012 at 9:24 pm

First these look soooo amazing! And second, you’re making me rethink going to the gym instead of being lazy. Oi vey!

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5 Jill @ Sincerely Jill September 6, 2012 at 5:58 am

Oh gyms… it’s just whole other kind of universe there, full of quirks and rituals. No judgement on the treadmill incident! What idiot leaves a machine running? Weird… that’s a new one for me.

This pie looks amazing, and I really don’t like pecan pie! The husband does though, so he’ll be glad I ran across this :)

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6 shelly (cookies and cups) September 6, 2012 at 7:37 am

Yeah, I drive around the gym parking lot looking for the closest spot. That’s me.
I am ashamed.

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7 T September 6, 2012 at 8:01 am

Want.

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8 Kathia September 6, 2012 at 10:36 am

Oh I hate taking a class at the gym and having someone breathing on my neck or stepping on my toes, people sometimes do not get it!
I love zumba class!

Tart looks so good, full of calories and worth every single one of them.

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9 Javelin Warrior September 7, 2012 at 7:07 am

Circling the parking lot at the gym – that made me laugh! I typically just pull into the first spot I find open (unless it’s raining) because I figure the 10 extra feet are good for me ;) Especially if I’m noshing down on a caramel pecan tart as gorgeous as these! Wow… I’m featuring this post in today’s Food Fetish Friday (with a link-back and attribution as always). Thank you so much for keeping me inspired with such delicious creations…

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10 Laura Dembowski March 1, 2013 at 11:53 am

Oh my word, those look incredible! I love tarts and pecans and caramel and everything about these. I love to exercise, but I avoid the gym for all the reasons you mentioned and more. I like my workouts in the comfort of my own home.

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11 Rosie @ Blueberry Kitchen March 14, 2013 at 9:45 am

Oh yum, your tarts look so so good!

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12 BigFATcook March 14, 2013 at 10:06 am

Pecans and caramel??? yes please.

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