For the pastry:
- 150g butter, diced and chilled
- 260g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- Pinch of salt
- 75g caster sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tbsp cream
For the filling:
- 175g pecan nuts
- 90g butter
- ¼ tsp sea salt flakes
- 150g Molasses
- 2 tbsp Rum
- seeds of ½ vanilla pod or 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 medium eggs
For the glaze:
- 3 tbsp molasses
- 1 tbsp rum
- 150ml (1/4 pint) cream
- 150ml (1/4 pint) milk
- 25g (1oz) ground almonds
- 1/2 vanilla pod, split in half and seeds scraped out
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 1/2 tbsp caster sugar
- 2 tsp Cornflour
First, make the pastry and I find the best and easiest way to do this is in a food processor.
Put the flour and caster into a food processor with the butter and blitz until the mixture reaches fine breadcrumbs. If doing this by hand you can just rub the butter, flour and caster sugar together by picking up bits of the mixture and then rubbing them between your thumb and forefinger and then letting the mixture fall back in the bowl.
Keep on doing this until the mixture reaches fine breadcrumbs. Then add the egg yolks and blitz again until the dough forms a ball. If the mixture still looks a bit dry then you can add the water, but you want a soft dough that is not sticky.
Extra liquid does bind the dough together better but it also makes the pastry slightly tougher so as little liquid as possible is best. If you are doing this by hand then just add the egg yolks and then using a knife stir the mixture until it comes together, adding the extra water if necessary.
Tip this out on to a lightly floured surface and bring the pastry together with your hands into a ball. Then wrap it in clingfilm, flatten it a little bit and pop into the fridge for at least 15 minutes to firm up. Relaxing the gluten (the stretchy proteins in the protein) will make the pastry easier to roll out and will mean that the pastry does not shrink in the oven during baking.
Preheat the oven to 180⁰C, (fan 160⁰C), 350F, Gas Mark 4. Once the pastry has rested use it to line a 9inch/24cm loose-bottomed flan tin that is about 2.5cm deep.
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a size about 1.5 times larger than the tin, then put the rolling pin in the centre of the pastry and fold half of the pastry over it, then lift up the rolling pin and transfer the pastry to the tin, lying the rolling pin over it and unfolding the pastry. I find this is the easiest way to transfer pastry to a tin.
Allow the pastry to fall naturally into the tin and then using a small ball of rolled up pastry covered in flour to ease the pastry down in the corners of the tin. Be really careful not to stretch or pull the pastry at any time as if you do when the pastry bakes it will shrink in the oven and the sides of the pastry will be lower than the tin.
Dip the handle of a wooden spoon into some flour and then use this to gently press the pastry all the way around the edge and into the ‘flutes’ of the tin. Once you have lined the tin, pop it back into the fridge once more time to let the gluten relax a little before you cut off the excess.
Meanwhile, sprinkle the pecan nuts on to a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes or until they are just beginning to colour and are lightly toasted. Keep an eye on them as they can catch and burn very quickly. Once cooked, remove from the oven and set aside 100g of perfect whole ones to use for decoration, then roughly chop the remaining 75g to use in the filling.
Once the pastry has relaxed for a second time, remove it from the fridge and using a very sharp knife, cut off the excess pastry.
Take a large sheet of baking parchment and scrunch it up, then un-scrunch it and use to line the pastry. Fill it with ceramic baking beans or dried kidney beans, making sure that they come right up the sides.
Place the tart on a baking sheet, which makes it easier to take it in and out of the oven and bake for 15 minutes until the pastry looks set but not coloured. Carefully remove the beans and baking parchment.
Break one of the eggs (put the yolk to one side) and quickly brush the base with the unbeaten egg white to form a seal for the filling and help to prevent it from seeping out. Then pop the pastry case back into the oven for another 5 minutes or until the base is firm and the pastry feels sandy to the touch. Then take it out of the oven and set it aside.
As the pastry cooks make the filling. Put the molasses, vanilla extract, butter, salt and rum together in a pan over a medium to high heat. Just bring it to the boil and then turn down the heat and let it simmer for 3-5 minutes over a very low heat. Leave it to cool down to body temperature.
Place the eggs in a large mixing bowl. Add in the chopped pecan nuts and the slightly cooled molasses mixture. Whisk well to combine. Pour into the cooked pastry case and then arrange the remaining 100g of whole pecan nuts in attractive rows.
Place the pecan pie into the oven (again on a baking sheet as this makes for easier manoeuvring in and out of the oven) and bake for 15-18 minutes or until the mixture is set but still a little wobble to it.
To make the glaze, heat the molasses and rum together in a small pot & allow to cool slightly.
Once the tart is baked, remove the pecan pie from the oven and leave to cool slightly. Brush over the glaze. Serve warm with ice cream, whipped cream or custard.
- Place the cream and milk in a pan with the almonds, vanilla pod and seeds. Bring to scalding point (just before it comes to the boil). Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 15 minutes.
- Strain into a jug and discard the ground almonds and vanilla pod. Place the egg yolks, cornflour and sugar in a bowl and beat until well combined.
- Slowly pour in the infused cream mixture, stirring continuously to combine.
- Pour the whole mixture into a clean pan and cook for about 5-6 minutes over a very low heat, stirring continuously until thickened.
- Remove from the heat and serve