For Andrew’s birthday a cake just wouldn’t do, and I knew the special occasion called for one of his favorites, Pecan Pie. I used an old-fashioned pecan pie filling with a tartlet shell to make individual sized treats for the birthday boy. We’re well past the age of adding a candle for every year, and the tart size was perfect to hold the one candle required for the birthday wish. The sweet, flaky tarts made a great breakfast (hey, it is his birthday!) and may come out again for a late night snack after the birthday celebration is over.
Happy Birthday Andrew!
Adapted from a recipe by Executive Pastry Chef Jason Licker
Makes 6-8 4.5″ tartlets
1 cup (80z.) unsalted butter
1 cup (80z.) confectioner’s sugar
1 1/2 (3 oz.) eggs
2 1/4 cup (18 oz.) all-purpose flour
1. Cream butter and confectioner’s sugar until light and fluffy (3-4 minutes)
2. Add eggs and flour and mix until combined.
3. Shape dough into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour.
4. Preheat oven to 300°F
5. Roll out dough into 1/8 inch thickness on a lightly floured surface.
6. If using 4.5inch tart pans, cut out 6 inch circles in the dough.
7. Place the dough over the tart pan and gently press the dough against the sides. Trim excess dough off the top. As you finish each tart cup place it in the refigerator to stay firm while you finish the remainder.
Old-Fashioned Pecan Pie Filling
Bon Appétit, November 1997
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup chopped pecans
1. Preheat the over to 350°F.
2. Whisk the first five ingredients in a medium bowl to blend.
3. Mix in 1 cup pecans.
4. Place the prepared tart shells (see Tart Dough recipe above) on a baking sheet. Pour the pecan mixture into each tart crust about 3/4 full. Do not overfill since the filling will expand while baking.
4. Sprinkle each tart with the remaining 1 cup pecans.
5. Bake until set, about 25 minutes.
Now for the honest truth…
1) The tart dough was easy to make and tasted excellent, but may work better for a chocolate or fruit filling than for pecan. For a true pecan pie taste, a traditional pie crust is required (see the Epicurious recipe for their pie crust if interested).
Note: For fillings that don’t require baking, such as ganache and fruit, fill the tart shells with dough, make small slits in the bottom, and bake empty until light golden and the surface is dry to the touch. Pour the filling into the baked tart cups.
2) There were too many large pecan pieces in the tart. Next time I will reduce the amount of pecans used to about 1 1/2 cups, and try processing half of it for a finer texture.
3) Don’t overfill the tarts. I filled the cups to the brim (as shown in the picture below), and a few of the tarts spilled over during baking. It was easy to clean the baking sheet and salvage the tart, but it would have been nice to avoid the mess from the beginning.
4) If you don’t have tartlet pans, you can get a variety of sizes from the Broadway Restaurant Supply store in Union Square. 4.5 inch round tartlet pans with removable bottoms are $1.95 each.
Broadway Restaurant Supply, Inc.
21 E. 17th Street
New York, New York
Hours: Monday – Saturday 8:00am to 5:30pm