Pecan pie is a holiday classic, but it isn’t one of my favorites. Most pecan pies have a filling of extra-sweet custard that outshines the wonderful pecans on the top of the pie, even if you take the time to roast your pecans ahead of time. I much prefer pecan tarts because, while you still have some of that flavorful filling, the nuts really become the star. With a better crust-to-filling-to-nut ratio, pecan tarts also have a much better texture than many pecan pies. But as long as you enjoy pecans, you are sure to enjoy my Dulce de Leche Pecan Tart.
The tart filling is made with eggs, brown sugar and dulce de leche. The dulce de leche is a milk-based caramel that has a rich sweetness and a complex dairy flavor. It blends nicely with the brown sugar and gives the filling a rich flavor that you won’t find in the average corn syrup-based pecan pie filling. A generous amount of nuts are folded into the filling and everything is poured into a tart crust. I used primarily pecan halves – there were some pieces in my mix – which give the tart a really great look. You can use pieces if that is what you have on hand and still get great results. I highly recommend using toasted nuts for this tart. The extra crunch of a toasted pecan takes this tart from good to great.
The finished tart is incredibly flavorful, and the pecans and dulce de leche really compliment each other. It’s sweet, but not too sweet, and it has a great texture. The buttery tart crust provides a sturdy base for the filling. Any recipe for a 9-inch tart crust can be used with this filling, as the tart crust is baked with the filling in it, not ahead of time. I actually used a gluten free crust (recipe coming soon!!) for this particular tart. My brown butter tart dough would make a great option.
Cut this tart exactly like you would a pecan pie, using a serrated knife. The knife will cut neatly through the pecans and give you a slice with neat edges, not one that is slightly crushed on each side. The tart will keep well for several days after baking and can either be stored on the counter or refrigerated, depending on how quickly you intend to eat it. It is delicious on its own, but a small scoop of ice cream is a nice compliment to the caramel filling, as well.
Dulce de Leche Pecan Tart
dough for 9-inch tart
1/2 cup brown sugar (pref. light brown)
8-oz dulce de leche
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 cup toasted pecans (pref halves)
Preheat oven to 350F.
Press tart dough into a 9-inch tart pan, creating an even layer over the base and sides. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together brown sugar, dulce de leche, eggs, vanilla and salt until smooth. Fold in pecans. Pour pecan mixture into the prepared tart shell and gently move the nuts around using a spatula until the filling is evenly spread out in the tart shell.
Bake for for 40-45 minutes, until the tart filling is set and does not look “wet” anywhere and the crust is light golden at the edges. Allow tart to cool completely before slicing and serving.
Makes 1 tart; Serves 8-10.