Pecans are one of my favorite nuts and pecan pie is definitely a holiday classic, but even though I enjoy a slice from time to time, pecan pie tends to be a little too gooey and a little too rich much of the time – especially after a big meal. If you like a less gooey dessert, as I do with pecan pie, you might want to try a pecan tart instead. With the tart, you get the crunch of the nuts along with just the right amount of sticky, caramely filling in each slice.
Many versions of pecan pie use corn syrup as a sweetener and as the base for their filling. I’m not a big fan of this approach (corn syrup has a place, but not in my pies), so starting last year I set out to experiment with some different sweeteners in pecan pie. For instance, last year I made a Maple Pecan Pie for Thanksgiving. The flavor combination was great, but there are plenty of other options for sweets that go with pecans, so I ended up making a Honey Pecan Tart this time around.
The tart is a lot like a pecan pie, with a generous base of pecans. Honey is naturally very sweet, so I used roasted and salted pecans for this pie and the flavor balance turned out to be absolutely perfect. There is some additional sugar in the filling, as well as some eggs, butter and a little bit of flour to bind everything together. The tart bakes and cools more quickly than a regular pecan pie and can be made a day or two in advance. It has a wonderfully sticky consistency when it is served, but that is balanced with the nuts on top of the pie and the just-crisp crust below it.
I used a shortbread crumb crust for this tart, but graham crackers would work just as well and you can also choose to use a different tart crust entirely if you want to use something other than a crumb crust. Browned Butter Tart Dough would be a great choice.
Honey Pecan Tart
1 9 or 10-inch tart crust (recipe below)
2 cups roasted, salted pecan halves
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
2 large eggs
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375F.
Spread roasted, salted pecan halves in an even layer in the prebaked tart shell.
In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, honey, eggs and melted butter until very smooth. Add in flour and vanilla and whisk until well combined. Pour over pecans.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until tart is set and dark golden brown.
Cool completely before slicing
Shortbread Crumb Crust
1 1/3 cups shortbread cookie crumbs
6 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
Preheat oven to 350F.
Combine ingredients and stir well until mixture resembles wet sand.
Pour into 9-inch tart pan and press into a firm, even layer over the base and sides. Make sure to press the crumbs firmly up into the ridges of the tart pan.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, until browned.
Cool completely before using.
Makes 1 crust.