This decadent pecan tart will be welcome at potlucks and holiday gatherings alike.

Gallery

Credit: Will Dickey

Recipe Summary

prep:
20 mins
bake:
50 mins
cool:
1 hr
cook:
5 mins
total:
2 hrs 15 mins
Servings:
12
Advertisement

If you gravitate toward the pecan pie on the holiday dessert spread, then you'll love this even-easier pecan tart recipe. There's no fussy pie pastry rolling and crimping required!

The tart filling is layered with flavor by way of the toasted nuts, a homemade caramel sauce and a simple press-in pie crust (ahem, tart crust).

Ingredients for Caramel Pecan Tart

Chances are you have everything you need in your kitchen as we speak to whip up this showy yet simple dessert.

All-Purpose Flour  
No need to dig out cake flour, almond flour, bread flour, or other grain. Good ol' AP is your BFF for this tart crust.

Powdered Sugar 
Any pie or tart crust that includes sugar is not only a bit sweetener than its sans-sugar counterparts, but the crust will also tend to be more tender. Sugar interferes with the gluten development process that normally occurs in flour-based recipes. For this reason, this pecan tart recipe's crust is best to press into the pan rather than attempt to roll out. 

Butter
You'll need two separate portions of butter for this Caramel Pecan Tart: ¾ cup (12 tablespoons) cubed for the crust, plus another ⅔ cup (10 ⅔ tablespoons) to melt into the filling.

Brown Sugar and Honey
You're probably more familiar with seeing corn syrup in pecan pie recipes. In the pecan tart, we prefer to use these two sweeteners to lend even more decadent, caramel flavor. (See "Community Tips" for a liquid sweetener alternative.)

Whipping Cream
AKA heavy cream; just a splash in the caramel-nut filling really helps this treat feel like a splurge. Half-and-half can work in a pinch if you don't have any cream.

Pecans 
Toast them whole, then coarsely chop to incorporate into the pecan tart recipe filling. Walnuts would also be stellar here if you prefer those buttery, crunchy nuts over pecans.

How to Toast Pecans

toasting pecans on a sheet tray
Credit: Will Dickey

To toast pecans for this Caramel Pecan Tart, you have two options: in the oven or on the stovetop. The skillet style will save you a few minutes, but both options take less than 10 minutes. 

Want to know the secret for how to keep pecans from burning? Use your nose. Here's what we mean…

Oven: Preheat the oven to 325°F. While that warms up, line a large sheet pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Spread the nuts in a single, not-too-crowded layer, on the prepared sheet pan. Bake until the nuts begin to smell fragrant and appear slightly browner; about 5 to 7 minutes.

Stovetop: Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Spread the nuts in a single layer. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 to 6 minutes or until the nuts are fragrant and lightly toasted.

Allow the toasted nuts to cool enough to handle, chop into small pieces to add 3 ½ cups to the filling for this Caramel Pecan Tart recipe. If you have any extra toasted pecans, transfer them to an airtight container. Store at room temperature for up to two weeks or freeze in a freezer-safe zip-top bag for up to four months.

How to Make Caramel Pecan Tart

You're just 20 minutes of hands-on prep time away from devouring a slice of this pecan tart recipe.

Step 1: To toast the pecans for this pecan tart, arrange the nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. (Alternatively, follow the stovetop option for how to toast pecans listed above.) Bake at 350°F for 5 to 7 minutes, or until they are lightly toasted and fragrant. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the toasted pecans to cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes or so. (Feel free to keep the oven set as-is; you'll use it again shortly.)

Step 2: While the toasted nuts chill out, it's time to tackle the tart crust. In a food processor, add the all-purpose flour, powdered sugar, and the ¾ cup of cubed butter. Pulse this mixture 5 to 6 times, or until it looks like coarse crumbs. Inside a lightly greased 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, pat this crust mixture evenly on bottom and up the sides.

Step 3: Bake this pecan tart crust at 350°F for 20 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned. Cool this par-cooked crust on a wire rack for 15 minutes.

Credit: Will Dickey

Step 4: As the crust cools, turn your attention to the filling. In a 3-quart sauce pan over medium-high heat, bring the brown sugar, honey, the final ⅔ cup of butter, and whipping cream to a boil. Stir in the cooled toasted pecans, then spoon this hot filling into your prepared crust.

Step 5: Bake the filled Caramel Pecan Tart at 350°F for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the filling is golden and bubbly. Cool the pecan tart recipe on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before serving so it stays together when you slice.

How to Serve Caramel Pecan Tart

With its rich, nutty, caramel-flavored filling, this pecan tart requires zero garnishes to be downright delicious. That said, you have our full permission to take things over the top with one or several of these pecan tart topping ideas:

* Whipped cream
* Ice cream (how about butter pecan, caramel sea salt, or vanilla?)
* More chopped toasted pecans
* A drizzle of praline sauce or store-bought hot fudge or caramel sauce

How to Store This Caramel Pecan Tart Recipe

If you're lucky enough to have leftover Caramel Pecan Tart, cover the tart pan with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and refrigerate it for up to three days. 

If you'd like to get a headstart on this recipe, mix and press the tart crust into the pan, then wrap the unbaked crust well in a layer of plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Freeze for up to one month. When you're ready to proceed, there's no need to thaw; bake from frozen, cool to room temp, then fill and proceed with the pecan tart recipe.

For an entirely make-ahead dessert, follow this Caramel Pecan Tart recipe completely, including baking. Allow the tart to cool completely, wrap the finished tart in a layer of plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Freeze for up to one month. To serve, thaw the pecan tart in the refrigerator overnight, then slice and enjoy. 

FAQs

What should I do if the nuts on top of my pecan tart recipe are beginning to get too brown?

If the top of your tart is looking a little too toasty, yet the filling isn't quite set, loosely cover the tart pan with a piece of aluminum foil to prevent the top from over-browning. 

Community Tips 

If you don't own a tart pan, "use a springform pan for easy cutting and serving," suggests Jennifer4TX.

Craving a sweetener that delivers even more flavor than honey? "I have made this quite a few times using caramel ice cream topping, not honey, and it is always a hit," Maureen says. "One slice is never enough!"

Editorial contributions by Karla Walsh.

Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Arrange pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 350°F for 5 to 7 minutes or until lightly toasted. Cool on a wire rack 15 minutes or until completely cool.

    Advertisement
  • Pulse flour, powdered sugar, and 3/4 cup butter in a food processor 5 to 6 times or until mixture resembles coarse meal. Pat mixture evenly on bottom and up sides of a lightly greased 11-inch tart pan with removable bottom.

  • Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack 15 minutes or until completely cool.

  • Bring brown sugar, honey, 2/3 cup butter, and whipping cream to a boil in a 3-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in toasted pecans, and spoon hot filling into prepared crust.

  • Bake at 350°F for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Cool on a wire rack 30 minutes or until completely cool.

Caramel Pecan Bars
  • Prepare recipe as directed, pressing crumb mixture evenly on bottom and 3/4 inch up sides of a lightly greased heavy-duty aluminum foil-lined 13- x 9-inch pan. When completely cool, using the aluminum foil as handles, carefully lift the tart from the pan, and transfer to a serving tray. Cut into squares.

Tips

This recipe originally appeared in our November 2007 issue.

Advertisement