When we were thinking about dessert, it wasn’t just our friends’ addiction to chocolate that we considered. We also thought about what we serve at Thanksgiving: pumpkin pie, apple pie, pecanpie…plenty of pie, sure, but none of it chocolate. But I was making pastry for the Thanksgiving pies anyway, so I made a spare pie crust and put it the freezer. And then Hazel and I decided it needed a chocolate filling.
About pastry dough. It can be daunting. It can also be bought frozen. One of the best cooks I know just buys Marie Callendar’s frozen pie crust; she says it saves her a lot of trouble. So if that works for you, go for it. If you’re feeling ready to tackle making your own, almost any version will do. Here’s a link to my favorite recipe, courtesy Gourmet magazine, of blessed memory http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Pastry-Dough-235496.
I generally skip the shortening and use all butter, but that’s because I use shortening so infrequently, it’s always rancid by the time I open the container. I also haul out my trusty KitchenAid food processor and the world’s handiest, simplest pastry-making tool: a plastic, zippered pouch that you use to roll the dough out (these things are cheap, available at kitchen supply shops and online, and they’re invaluable–no extra flour, no scraping your pastry off the rolling pin, no temptation to commit suicide in frustration). And after I’ve made the dough, I roll it out in the pouch, peel the pouch off and place the dough in the pie pan, and then I chill it.
You can bake this the day before you plan to serve it, or you can prepare the dough and the filling ahead of time, then assemble and bake as soon the French toast comes out of the oven. Let me tell you: people are impressed when you pull a warm, homemade dessert out of the oven, and it’s not just because they’ve been drinking mimosas for three hours.
Here’s the filling we came up with. I used a 10-inch glass tart pan, so the filling isn’t deep.
Chocolate Pecan Tart
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter
1 cup corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups pecans
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Melt the chocolate and the butter (you can do this in the microwave if you’re careful, but I have burned so much chocolate in the microwave over the years, I always use a double boiler). Cool slightly.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs lightly, then stir in the corn syrup, salt, vanilla, butter and chocolate. Add the pecans. Pour into the prepared pie pan or tart pan. If you use a 9-inch pie pan, the filling will take longer to cook than it will in the 10-inch tart pan. In a pie pan, bake about 45 minutes; in the tart pan, about 35 minutes. I serve it warm with ice cream.
Posted by Laurie