ON TV: Bourbon-Pecan Tartlets

Pecans, pastry dough, and bourbon are what I call a dessert and these tartlets don’t disappoint.  Pecan pie filling gains complexity with a little bourbon and when paired with buttery, homemade pastry dough, it’s one fabulous mouth-full.

Sound complicated?  It’s not.  Read on (or watch) to learn how to make these bite-size desserts perfect for your autumn table.

Pastry dough gives many a cook nightmares.  What a shame!  It’s easy as pie (sorry, couldn’t resist) and is so much better than the bland, store-bought pie dough.  Take the all-butter pastry dough that I use in this recipe.  Flaky and buttery, it requires only 4 ingredients and comes together in minutes in my food processor.     For those who find pushing a button a little too easy, check out how to make pastry dough by hand here.  Regardless of whether you use an appliance or your own sweat-equity, once you make your own pie dough you’ll never buy the store stuff again.

Visual learner?  I demonstrated how to make pecan-bourbon tartlets on this morning’s Charlotte Today show.  Click here or on the image below to see the video.   Happy cooking!

Bourbon-Pecan Tartlets – Printer-Friendly Recipe
Makes about 40 tartlets

For the Pastry Dough:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons ice water

For the Filling:
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup dark corn syrup
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons bourbon
pinch of salt
2 cups (about 8 ounces) chopped pecans
Special equipment: rolling pin, 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter, pastry brush, 2 mini-muffin tins

For the pastry dough:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Add the flour and salt to a large food processor and process until combined.   Add the butter to the dry ingredients and pulse in 2-second increments until the butter is in pea-size pieces.

Sprinkle the water over the dough and continue pulsing the mixture until it comes together to form a large ball. Do not over process, as the dough will get tough. Remove the dough from the food processor and divide it in half.  Press each half into a disc and wrap with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate the dough for at least fifteen minutes and up to one day.

For the filling:
On a well-floured surface, roll the dough out until it is ¼-inch thick.  To prevent the dough from sticking to the counter, brush the dough with flour using a pastry brush as you roll it out and flip it over using the rolling pin to support it after every couple of rolls.

Once the dough has been rolled out, cut out small rounds of dough using a 2 ½-inch round cookie cutter.    Working with one round of dough at a time, gently stretch the dough and then press it into a mini-muffin mold (the dough should rise above the mold).   Repeat with the remaining dough rounds.  Repeat the previous steps with the second ball of dough.  Note:  The scraps from the dough can be combined, re-rolled and cut out, but the dough will be slightly tougher due to more handling.

Pre-bake the tartlet shells for 15 minutes.  While the shells are baking, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and dark corn syrup until the sugar has dissolved.   Stir in the vanilla extract, melted butter, bourbon, and salt.   Add the chopped pecans and stir to combine.  Set aside.

Remove the tartlet shells from the oven and then let cool.  Press down the center of the tartlets if they have puffed up during cooking.  Stir the pecan filling with a large spoon and then divide the filling between the tartlets.  Don’t overfill the tartlets, as the filling will spill over.  Reduce the oven to 350 degrees.  Bake the tartlets for 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown.   Remove the tartlets from the oven and let cool before serving.

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