I love holidays, not because of presents, but because of the excuse to bake, and bake a lot. I always get overly ambitious and go way overboard, but I can’t help myself, and this Easter is no exception. We are having Easter dinner at our house this year, so I am being given free reign over what is made…this may have been a mistake, but it is going to be a delicious one. I have decided on two desserts and one candy, and I will hopefully complete all three. I have previously made the two desserts, but it is going to be a first for the candy as it is a co-worker’s wife’s recipe, so wish me luck.
This first installment of “An Ode to Easter” will center around the first dessert: Cherry Pecan Tart. I first made this tart last Thanksgiving with cranberries instead of cherries, and it was an immediate hit. It is surprisingly easy and looks very impressive. This time I am making it with frozen sweet dark cherries because, apparently, cranberry season in the fall. (They are harvested in September and October.) The original recipe came from the November 2009 issue of “Better Homes and Gardens”. I saw it and thought, “I want to make that.” However, as I was reading the recipe I realized it was needlessly complicated: it involved cooking the filling on the stove and then whisking in an egg mixture. I decided to try the recipe as it was and ended up with a tart filling that had scrambled eggs in it, yuck! Needless to say, that went into the trash and I started over. I decided that I could do better by combining the “idea” of this tart with two other recipes. The filling came from a friend’s “Pecan Tartlet” recipe, and the crust I borrowed from the blog Dessert First. The result? Amazing!
Here’s what you need:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp. salt
9 Tbls. very cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 large egg yolk
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup dark corn syrup
2/3 cup brown sugar
4 Tbls. melted butter
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups pecan halves, toasted if preferred
1 cup frozen dark cherries (or fresh cranberries when they are in season)
Here’s what you do:
Place the flour, sugar, and salt in bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add in cold butter and process until pea-sized lumps of dough form. It should be loose and crumbly. Add the egg yolk and process until the dough starts to come together. Butter one 11 inch tart pan or six 5 inch tart pans. The ones with the removable bottoms work best. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and lightly press it together into a ball. (I just dump it into the tart pan and press it together.) Using your hands, press the dough into the pan working it over the bottom and up the sides. If you are having a hard time getting an even layer of crust, you can use the bottom of a measuring cup to flatten out the dough. Chill in freezer for about 15 minutes while you combine the filling ingredients.
In a medium bowl mix together the filling ingredients except the pecans and cherries. Remove the tart shell from the freezer and scatter the pecans into the crust followed by the cherries. Pour the filling mixture over the top of the pecans and cherries. Let the tart sit for a few minutes so the filling can level out and seep into all of the nooks between the pecans and cherries.
Bake the tart in a preheated, 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes until filling is set. Let the tart come to room temperature and then move to the refrigerator to cool completely. Cut the tart into wedges to serve.
While the tart looked wonderful, once I cut into it I realized that the cherries were much more juicy than I had expected. This resulted in the filling being a bit more runny than usual. This could easily have been avoided by adding 2 Tbls. of flour or cornstarch to the filling. Oh well, next time I will know.