If you can count yourself among the ranks of those whose home recipe stash is chock-full of every conceivable mealtime staple, you are lucky as hell. Go right now and thank whomever it was that saw fit to endow you with this delightful trove- as I instead sit here enviously perusing the internet, searching, scrolling, and clicking in an attempt to fill that void in my own life.
Luckily for me and others in the same predicament, the world wide web lends itself perfectly to this task. At the click of a button, thousands upon thousands of delectable takes on every recipe known to man are laid right out in front of me to either replicate as is or to tweak to my heart’s content. Quantity is definitely not the problem here. The real trouble is in trying to weed out the good ones. There simply is no shortcut available for sifting through the plethora of dependable sources and covering as much virtual ground as possible in your quest to find “the one.” The fail-proof recipe that will permanently end your search.
Preferably on the first try.
I have found myself in these shoes quite a few times. Usually for American culinary classics which I did not have the pleasure of growing up on, but have come to love. Born and bred on a steady diet of arroz con frijoles and every pasta imaginable, I have always had a vacancy of one sort or another as far as American comfort food is concerned. One that has repeatedly brought me back to the drawing board over the years. This was exactly the position in which I found myself a few years ago right around this time of year.
It was the cusp of autumn, when summer was just getting ready to desert us and the idea of fall was just starting to look appealing. In fact, all things fall were beginning to look appealing, including pecan pie. And thus, another recipe search got underway. Not just any old recipe would do, however. I wanted to find the recipe to end all recipes. The one so good it would become my forever “go-to” and eliminate the need of ever having to find a replacement through another arduous digital quest.
As so often never happens, one such recipe made itself immediately available for my viewing pleasure.
Chocolate pecan pie, it said. One look and I knew. My search was over, I had found my finishing move. Salivating shamelessly, I was off to the grocery store to get everything I needed to bake the pie of all pies. It wasn’t until much later, as I was lugging my bags into the house, that it dawned on me. I’d never bought a pie pan. Ever. That kitchen essential was still sitting smugly on my to-do list.
Deflated, I felt ready to throw in the towel. I wasn’t about to load my brood into the car for a second trip to the store that day. What could I possibly make out of this heap now? I wondered, my enthusiasm quickly waning. Then, my ingenuity making a hasty comeback, it occurred to me that I could simply use what I had on-hand to make it my way from the get-go. Pretty ballsy move for a novice, I know, but I was desperate. I refused to let this latest Whole Foods tab be in vain and thus, a chocolate pecan tart was born instead.
The first thing you’ll want to do for this recipe is pull your tart pan out of your cabinets with a whopping grin on your face- a grin born out of the pure unadulterated joy of knowing what is to come. You can use any shape and size pan you like for this tart, just make sure you give yourself enough room for the crust to come up the sides of the pan when rolling it out. I personally use a 9 1/2-inch round stainless steel pan.
Now it’s onto the routine task of rolling out your dough without pissing yourself off, which I unabashedly fail at every time. I know I’ll eventually get over it, but for now, the finicky nature of dough gets old real quick. Every. Single. Time. You can make your own or use store-brought crust for this recipe, whichever you prefer. Just remember to flour your rolling pin as well as your surface and keep moving that dough!
Once your dough is rolled out with a few inches to spare all around, settle it gently into the tart pan, pressing lightly up the ridged sides. Trim off excess dough by rolling your pin along the top of the pan and then place the pan onto a baking sheet. Slide the baking sheet into the refrigerator to keep it chilled while you prepare your filling.
You can begin pre-heating the oven at this point, setting it to 350 degrees.
Now to prepare your chocolate. I suggest chopping it up into smaller pieces as this cuts down your melting time significantly. Use whatever melting method you prefer, but I like to go with a double boiler. To make one, just place your chocolate into a heat-proof bowl and set it over a small pot of boiling water. Make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t actually come into contact with the water.
Keep stirring pretty regularly as the heat of the double boiler slowly and evenly melts the chocolate. In just a few minutes you’ll have a velvety smooth, shiny pool of perfection in the center of your bowl.
When completely melted, put the chocolate aside.
Grab a fresh bowl and crack your eggs into it. Whisk well and then add the corn syrup, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Whisk again. When fully combined, slowly pour in your chocolate, stirring continuously until fully incorporated.
Now your filling is ready. Get your tart pan out of the fridge and pour the filling into the chilled crust. It should come up to just about the top of the crust edge so be careful not to spill over! Now it’s just a matter of adding the pecans. You can lay them right on top in any arrangement you like or you can even give them a rough chop and drop them right into the filling.
When you’re ready, slide the baking sheet into the bottom rack of your oven and bake for an hour, rotating halfway through.
When the time is up, pull the tart out of the oven and resist the urge to devour it upon sight in all of its perfectly golden, slightly jiggly, chocolatey glory. And don’t worry, the puffiness you see will go down as it cools. You should ideally allow it to cool on a wire rack for three hours or even overnight, but I’ve never made it past two to be quite honest.
This chocolate pecan tart is a crowd-pleaser that never fails to deliver. The addition of chocolate introduces an entirely new (and wonderful) dimension of flavor that has just the right amount of sweetness. It works especially well for those occasions that have all the makings of a simultaneous kitchen and nervous breakdown because it doesn’t have to be served right away- even demanding a few hours to itself before serving! Perfect for baking morning-of or even the night before.
I hope you enjoy this favorite as much as my family and I do! It’s great as is or paired with the best vanilla ice cream you can get. May it be a comforting addition to your fall lineup and maybe even make an appearance at your table this Thanksgiving! Above all, I hope it becomes a staple for you too- a classic American recipe to add to your collection.