Caramel Pecan Tarts

This last summer we went on an incredible sailing trip up in the San Juan Islands. Half way through the trip we harbored in Victoria, and while we were there we had a luxurious high tea at the Empress Hotel. Now that several months have gone by we thought it would be a great idea to get our fellow sailors together for high tea and a viewing of our San Juan photos.

For the tea Peter made these incredible tarts. They were so good I thought you all might enjoy them. In fact, I think I’ll be swapping these in the place of pecan pie at this year’s Thanksgiving.

Caramel Pecan Tartlets

2 yolks
2 tablespoons cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cup powdered sugar
1 cup butter, cold

1 cup sugar
⅓ cup water
½ cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
½ teaspoon vanilla

Toasted whole pecans

For the pastry, whisk together yolks, cream and vanilla and set aside. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt on low speed in a Kitchen Aid with a paddle attachment. When the mixture becomes sandy, add the wet ingredients. Mix just until the dough comes together. Chill.

Roll the cold dough out and cut circles to fit pastry tins. Once the tins are lined with dough place them on a sheet pan and place them in the freezer to chill. Pre-heat the oven to 350. When you are ready bake the tart shells at 350 for 5-7 minutes or until the edges just start to brown.

Caramel can be kind of tricky. Luckily all of the ingredients are cheap, so give it a try and if it doesn’t turn out, do it again. I like to get my caramel as dark as I can without it tasting burnt. It can take a couple of tries to get it just right, so do be scared and go for it.

Before you get started get all of your equipment and ingredients in place. Once you’ve started cooking the sugar you don’t have time to go looking for things. Over medium high heat combine the sugar and water in a heavy bottomed sauce pan. The sugar will melt and begin to boil. After a few minutes the boiling sugar will start to turn a light amber color. You want to continue cooking the sugar until the sugar turns a medium-to –dark amber color and you smell little whiffs of caramel smoke. If you go too far the caramel will taste burnt. When the sugar is a medium-to-dark amber add the cream. Don’t be scared, but it will boil up violently. Have no fear; it will stop after a couple of seconds. Remove the caramel from the heat, stir in the butter and vanilla.

Toast the pecans at 350 until fragrant and beginning to brown.

To assemble, unmold the tart shells. Spoon one tablespoon of caramel and top with toasted pecans. Enjoy…

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