Friday, November 23, 2007

Chocolate and Coconut Pecan Tart

Way back in 2001 the ex and I hosted our first Thanksgiving feast at our house. We were emerging as foodies at the time, but of course Thanksgiving is a whole new level of chaos and features recipes that are only made a couple of times a year. Luckily, we subscribed to Bon Appetit, and the Thanksgiving issue that year was particularly good. Yes it was a mess, and there were near misses and a few utter misses, but the food was edible, some of it quite yummy, and the company was good.

I have been incredibly lucky in the years since to share Thanksgiving with one of my oldest and best friends and her husband --Lindsay and Randy who are also foodies that take great pleasure in finding new recipes and sharing food with friends. The three of us, and the others who have come and gone over the years, have collaborated on a number of recipes and enjoy being in the kitchen cooking together -- especially on Thanksgiving. The stuffing they made yesterday was fantastic and I will probably want that recipe for future Thanksgivings, especially considering I have never liked stuffing all that much. Lindsay also made a gorgeous apple pie -- a feat I have yet to accomplish -- with a perfect crust and nicely spiced apples. (yes, that's envy in my tone...)

The funny thing about Thanksgiving is that there are always a few recipes that just have to be on the table in order to make it feel right. I'm a turkey person and just don't think Thanksgiving would be right without a roasted turkey. Buttermilk biscuits, mashed taters and gravy and some form of fresh green beans are also available pretty much every year. At least two recipes from that first Thanksgiving I hosted though have made an appearance in almost every feast after that -- the cranberry sauce cooked in red zinfandel, and the absurdly sweet chocolate, coconut and pecan tart.

This tart is probably the sweetest recipe I have every made -- usually eliciting a jaw aching, teeth clenching, oh my god I can't believe something that sweet can be that good sort of reaction. There is not only 1 cup of light corn syrup in the filling, but also 3/4 cup of brown sugar. It is basically a super sweet pecan pie filling, with lots of chocolate chips and coconut. The chocolate chips probably cut some of the sweetness, but they don't really do much. It is amazingly good, but only in very, very small portions.

I actually wasn't going to make the tart this year though because the crust is such a pain in the ass. In the past, before I had enough experience with tart/pie crusts, this crust has brought me to tears as I attempted to make it work. This year, Chris helped me and we just fudged our way through. The crust calls for two egg yolks as the liquid ingredients -- but it is rarely enough. We added milk a half teaspoon at a time to bring it together, but even then we were kind of guessing. It still looked like a dry chocolate powder and flour mixture sitting in the bowl, but if you clumped it together it would stay clumped so we just pressed it into the tart pan and baked it. I really need to find a new tart crust to use with the filling when I make it again -- for now though, here is the recipe, as printed in Bon Appetit. You can also find it online on epicurious...


1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 large egg yolks

1 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (6 ounces) miniature semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons shredded unsweetened coconut
1 1/2 cups (about 7 ounces) pecan halves, toasted


For crust:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Whisk flour, cocoa, sugar, and salt in large bowl to blend. Add butter; rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Whisk yolks in small bowl to blend; add to flour mixture. Stir until moist clumps form. Gather dough into ball; press over bottom and up sides of 11-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Bake crust until set, about 15 minutes. Cool while preparing filling. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.

For filling:
Blend corn syrup, sugar, and butter in medium bowl. Whisk in eggs, vanilla, and salt. Stir in 1/2 cup chocolate chips, 3/4 cup coconut, and pecans. Pour filling into prepared crust.

Bake tart until filling is set and golden brown on top, about 40 minutes. Place tart on rack. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup chocolate chips evenly around edge of warm tart. Let stand just until chips soften, about 5 minutes. Using small spatula, spread chocolate to form 1-inch border around edge of tart. Sprinkle chocolate border with remaining 3 tablespoons coconut. Cool completely. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover loosely with foil; let stand at room temperature.)


Ben said...

when I was doing marathon baking with my mom in the last few days (4 pies, from scratch, in 36 hours!) she mentioned a useful tip that you may or may not know -- crusts are AWESOME if you let them freeze overnight (by themselves, before putting in filling and baking them). Then when you bake them they are super crispy and not chewy at all. I tried it -- seems to work very well.

Mira said...

sooooo.. no baby yet?