Mini Chocolate Pecan Tarts

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I’m pretty sure I mentioned these mini chocolate pecan tarts before. I actually called them pies, but since I there is no top crust and I used the leftover pate sucrée to make them, I think it’s more accurate to call them tarts.  What is the difference between a pie and a tart anyway?

Well a pie is a sweet or savory dish with a crust and a filling. The crust is usually made with three simple ingredients: flour, fat (lard, butter, shortening), water. Okay and maybe salt. The end result is a crisp flaky crust. The sides of the crust are sloped and the sides are sloped.

Whereas a tart is a sweet or savory dish with a shallow crust and a only a bottom crust.  The crust on a tart is more crumbly, usually made from pastry dough and the sides are not sloped, but fluted.

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Whew we got a little side tracked there, back to these mini pecan tarts.  Since it’s usually just me and Patrick, I thought that it would be too much to make a whole pie or tart unless I’m going to a party.  Thus I decided, why not make mini tarts? Then it occurred to me that I don’t have a pie pan that makes the perfect amount of pie for two nor did I have little tart pans like the ones I drool over in any and all baking stores that I go to. Instead, I thought, well I have a cupcake tin. Why not use that? So I used some leftover pate sucrée to make mini tarts in my cupcake tin.  They came out really nicely and I thought they were adorable.  Maybe its because they were mini? These turned out to be the perfect size for personal tarts, so you have have your own tart as well as share the extras.  For this post, I made the filling chocolate pecan, which as I mentioned earlier, is currently my new favorite pie.  I made this pecan pie based on a recipe from Food and Wine and since it was such a big hit at our friendsgiving, I decided to make it my go to pecan pie recipe.  Of course, I shouldn’t make them too often since they probably aren’t as good for my waistline as they are for my tastebuds, but hey, they’re definitely a great indulgent treat.   I took some of these to work and all my co-workers loved them, plus I think it really cuts down on the mess since you don’t have to slice them and worry about the crust crumbling under the knife.  Definitely one of the benefits of these tarts is that you can eat one and not feel too guilty.  Additionally, they’re pretty portable. Okay not really, you’ll end up leaving a trail of delicious buttery crumbs, but hey it’s easier to eat a mini tart then a slice of tart. At least that’s what I think. There must be a study somewhere…

Anyway, let’s get started!

 Ingredients:

Pate Sucrée
-1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
-8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, well chilled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
-2 tbsp plus 2 tsp chilled shortening*
-1/4 cup sugar
-2 egg yolks
-1/4 teaspoon water
-4 drops vanilla
Filling
-2 eggs
-1/2 cup brown sugar
-1/4 cup light corn syrup
-4 tbsp butter, melted 
-1/4 tsp salt
-1 cup pecans, roasted and chopped plus 12 whole pecan halves
-1 cup chocolate chips 

Directions:

  1. Combine flour, butter, shortening, and sugar in medium mixing bowl until the butter and shortening is about the size of small peas. Add yolks, water and vanilla and continue mixing until dough is crumbly. Turn dough out onto work surface and gather into ball. Divide the dough into two parts. Flatten each part into a disc. Wrap tightly in plastic. Freeze 30 minutes or refrigerate overnight.
  2. While the dough chills, make the filling.  Beat together the brown sugar, corn syrup, salt and eggs in a large bowl.  Melt the butter in a skillet until foamy and golden brown or melt in the microwave for about a minute. Slowly whisk in the melted butter into the sugar mixture and set aside.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350ºF and spreading the pecans in a single layer on a sheet pan, roast for 5 to 10 minutes while the oven is preheating.  Once the pecans are roasted, let them cool before reserving 12 whole pecan halves and roughly chopping the rest.
  4. Roll out one disc of dough on a lightly floured surface and cut out dough circles using a cookie cutter slightly larger than the cups in the cupcake tin.  Carefully press the dough into the pan, making sure to keep the edges straight. Use the excess dough to patch and cracks.
  5. Sprinkle a layer of chopped pecans in the bottom of each dough lined cup, sprinkle chocolate chips on top and then some more pecans. The chocolate nut mixture to reach about 2/3 up the cup. Pour the melted butter mixture over the pecans and chocolate until the filling reaches about a half centimeter below the top of the crust. Top with the whole pecan halves and bake for  30 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the filling no longer jiggles.

These were so cute and delicious. I will definitely be making them again. Well considering that I already made these twice now, there is no doubt that I will be making these again.  What I like about the mini tarts is that you can make multiple little pies, so you can have more than one flavor and not feel too much of glutton.  In fact I just made a batch of these mini tarts and made different fillings (apple tart, pear tart, pumpkin pie, chocolate pecan and chocolate cream pie). All in one batch.  You just have to make sure you make the right amount of filling (usually cutting in it half if you want 6 mini pies, or thirds if you want 4 mini pies, etc. etc.)  You might have some leftover filling, but at least you can use them to make mini pies again!

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I hope you like this post, I’ve been kind of obsessed with the mini pies/mini everything (did you see my mini quiches?), my cupcake tin/muffin tin is getting a tough work out.

Hugs and puppies!

Mimi

Pear Tart

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Thanksgiving is coming up and I’m sure you’re all looking for the perfect dessert recipe.  Growing up in Japan in a 100% Japanese family, we never celebrated Thanksgiving.  Well that totally makes sense right? I mean Thanksgiving is a distinctly unique American holiday where you contemplate about all the things you’re thankful for and you eat a lot. Okay, we really know it’s a lot more than that, but I’m no American History expert and let’s face it, you’re probably here for the food more so than a history lesson.  When I had my first Thanksgiving, I believe I was in either first or second grade.  It was delicious. I remember lots of food and of course pumpkin pie.  My older sister was obsessed with it after that.  She loved pumpkin pie and I guess being a younger sibling who always looked up to her older sibling, I fell in love with pumpkin pie too.  Today, not so much…I’ve found love with pecan pie…wait, sorry, I’m getting way off topic.  This is a post about pear tarts.  Tarts, I find, are very simple and please a lot of people. This pear tart is no different.  In fact, when I brought it to a going away party for a co-worker it was eaten within 20 minutes and my other co-workers were asking for more.  I felt bad only bringing one tart. And this was with 7 people. Okay so I guess 7 is a lot, but the fact that they were asking for more and even hinting that there were pears and baking ingredients as well as a functional oven shows how delicious this tart is.  Trust me, unless they’re complete traditionalist, I don’t think people would mind too terribly if you made a pear tart instead of a pumpkin pie.

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So let’s get baking!

 Ingredients:

Pate Sucrée
-1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
-8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, well chilled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
-2 tbsp plus 2 tsp chilled shortening*
-1/4 cup sugar
-2 egg yolks
-1/4 teaspoon water
-4 drops vanilla
Filling
-1/3 cup granulated sugar
-2 tbsp all purpose flour
-1 egg
-1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
-2 Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and quartered lengthwise
-Powdered sugar (garnish)
-Apricot jam
 
* You can replace the shortening for butter, I just find that using a mix of butter and shortening creates a flakier crust. 

Directions:

  1. Combine flour, butter, shortening, and sugar in medium mixing bowl until the butter and shortening is about the size of small peas. Add yolks, water and vanilla and continue mixing until dough is crumbly. Turn dough out onto work surface and gather into ball. Divide the dough into two parts. Flatten each part into a disc*. Wrap tightly in plastic. Freeze 30 minutes or refrigerate overnight.
  2. While the dough chills, make the filling.  Beat together the sugar, flour and eggs in a large bowl.  Melt the butter in a skillet until foamy and golden brown or melt in the microwave for about a minute. Slowly whisk in the melted butter into the sugar mixture** and set aside.
  3. Roll out one disc of dough on a lightly floured surface and transfer the dough into a tart pan.  Carefully press the dough into the pan, removing excess dough. Use the excess dough to patch and cracks. Place the tart pan in the fridge.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350ºF .  Peel and core the pears.  Cut the pears crosswise into thin slices.  Gently open the slices into a fan shape and arrange them in the crust in a flower pattern.  Pour the melted butter mixture over the pears and bake for an hour, or until the crust and filling are brown.
  5. Once the tart is out of the pan, warm some apricot jam and gently brush the top of the tart with it.  Additionally, you can skip the jam and dust the edges with powdered sugar or do both.  Either way these tart is delicious.
  6. Serve at room temperature with freshly whipped cream, ice cream and any other delicious pie toppings.

*I used a 8 inch tart pan with a removable bottom and I found that half the dough is more than enough. If using an 11 inch tart pan, use both discs of dough.  Additionally, you will need to double the filling for a bigger tart pan.  You can use the other disc of dough for other tarts or for mini pecan pies, which I will post soon.

**Slowly adding the hot butter to the room temperature sugar mixture tempers the filling, ensuring that the eggs don’t get scrambled/cooked in the process.

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This tart takes a while, about 2 hours from start to finish, but a majority of it is waiting.  I think it’s definitely worth it. Everyone will love you for it! For friendsgiving, I substituted the pears with some apples.  To be honest, the apple tart was devoured faster than the pumpkin pie that I had also brought, so I think it’s safe to say that it’s a good choice of dessert if pumpkin pie isn’t really your thing.  I really love this pate sucrée crust and have used the leftovers to make mini pecan pies, which were delicious.  I promise promise promise to post a recipe for them soon! Additionally, I think the crust would be beautiful paired with a chocolate cream filling or even a plain custard filling topped with raspberries.  The thing I love is that you don’t have to crimp it to make it beautiful. Straight clean lines are just as appealing!

Until then! Hugs and puppies!

Mimi

Baking Projects I’m working on!

Hi Everyone!

I hope you’re having a wonderful November. I apologize for not posting this past week. It’s been pretty busy with my playing around with Dominique Ansel’s recipes,  this book is honestly drool worthy and so so gorgeous. It’s poignant and beautiful. I honestly can’t wait to perfect the cronut and tell you all about it (though I believe it will take a while before that, so please bear with me).

I had friendsgiving last weekend and made three delicious pies: pumpkin, chocolate pecan and an apple tart. Okay so the tart isn’t a pie, but it was still delicious and I think it was one of best looking tarts yet. I’ll definitely post a recipe for it soon!

Thirdly, I went to watch Big Hero Six. If you haven’t watched it, go. It’s adorable. There are tears, laughter, and all the feels.  I honestly think that was one of my favorite disney movies of all time. I actually want to watch it again. Like right now. Unfortunately, since I don’t have the time, I will just have to make do with Baymax cookies. I’m going to perfect them a bit more before I share them with you, but for the first round they came out pretty cute I think.

That’s all!

I promise to post a recipe soon!

Hugs and puppies!

Mimi