The idea for this tart began with me wanting something just a little bit different from one of my favorite desserts: pecan pie. I’ll spare you the loose set of ideas that led to this final product and just get to the food–rather than a topping of exclusively pecans, through
complete indecisiveness sheer brilliance, I used a mix of pecans, hazelnuts, and almonds. Then, in place of the usual corn syrup-based custard, I instead made a maple syrup and chocolate based custard.
Taste and texture-wise, the pecan pie heritage of this tart is very clear. All the tweaks add to what is still very much a pecan pie flavor foundation, and I loved it. You pick up the flavor of almond and hazelnut with deeper, dark sweet notes of chocolate and maple which I found was a great foil to the touch of cinnamon you get from the graham cracker crust. You still get that gooey custard filling with a nice, crunchy top, and something about this tart feels more “wintery” than a pecan pie (which to me, feels “autumny,” go figure). Plus, making this is just as easy a pecan pie–mix stuff in a bowl, dump it with the nuts in a crust, and bake!
- 1 Graham cracker crust
- 3/4 cup maple
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 tsp cocoa powder
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3 Tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate
- 1/2 cup almonds
- 1/2 cup pecans
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts
Prepare your graham cracker crust and bake it blind.
In a bowl, whisk the brown sugar and maple syrup together until fairly homogenous. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking between each addition. Incorporate the cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt. Melt the butter and chocolate (I just use the microwave–30 seconds, stir, repeat with 15 seconds more as needed until melted down), whisking this into the mix.
If the nuts need to be shelled, have the papery coating removed, or be crushed to a size of your liking, do that now. Add these to your pie crust and then pour the filling you prepared earlier over the pie. Most of the nuts will naturally rise to the surface, but if they don’t, a gentle stir should do the trick. This way, the top surface of the nuts will be glazed with the sweet filling (rather than just sitting dryly on top of it).
Put the pie in a 425°F oven and promptly cover the exposed crust (loosely!) with some tin foil to prevent it from scorching. After 15 minutes, drop the oven temperature to 350°F for 15-20 minutes more (or until the pie is set. Jiggling the pan shouldn’t jiggle the center of the pie).
Remove from the oven and give it an hour to cool down. I tend to prefer a slice after the pie has cooled down a good bit rather than fresh out of the oven. Enjoy!