Maple Pecan Tarts
These little guys are a variation of butter tarts, butter pecan tarts, and egg tarts, and they pack a sugary punch. In my home, growing up, my mother always made egg tarts at Christmas. Nobody loved them quite as much as my father. I remember one year my mother pretended she hadn’t made egg tarts, and when my father opened a gift-wrapped box of them, you would’ve thought he had just opened a box with the keys to a brand new car. Those little pastries made his Christmas.
I liked egg tarts because they were sweet, sweeter than most candy, but I didn’t love them. For one, egg tarts don’t have the most appealing name. I tend to think of mini quiches. And secondly, they were so cloyingly sweet and one-noted. But they represented Christmas throughout my childhood, and it wasn’t until I moved away that those diabetic inducing-comas, disguised as flaky bundles of rich brown syrup, was something I wanted to try again …only different.
With the addition of maple syrup, my maple pecan tarts have another depth of flavor. Not to mention, they remind me of Canada. Also, the roasted pecans, not only provide extra flavor, but also more texture. This is certainly a recipe I like to have on hand for the holidays.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 250g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- 2 tbsp cold water
1. In a bowl or food processor, combine flour, butter, and salt. Pulse with processor until a crumb-like consistency. Or by hand, use a pastry cutter or two butter knives and cut to a crumb-like consistency.
2. Add the vinegar and water and mix into a smooth dough. Do not knead.
3. Wrap tightly in plastic and place in refrigerator for at least 45 minutes.
Maple Pecan Filling
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 4 large eggs
- 3/4 cup golden syrup
- 3/4 cup maple syrup
- 75g butter, melted and cooled
- 1 tsp maple extract, optional
- 200g pecan halves, toasted
1. Toast the pecans: Preheat oven 200°C. Spread pecans out on a baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes. Let cool.
2. For the filling: In a bowl, beat eggs, brown sugar, and cornstarch until smooth and fluffy.
3. Add the remaining ingredients and beat into mixture until well incorporated. Store in fridge to keep cool.
Assembling and Baking:
1. On a well floured surface, roll pastry out very thin, just a few millimeters.
2. Using a ring about the same size as a tuna can, cut rounds in the dough.
3. Place each round in a greased muffin tin, shaping them into tart shells. Place the muffin tray into the freezer while the oven preheats.
4. Preheat oven to 220°C.
5. Remove muffin tray from freezer and pour maple filling into each tart shell, about 3/4 full.
6. Place three(or more) pecan halves on each tart.
7. Bake for 20 minutes.
*A Special Note on Maple:
There’s only one sure way to tell good maple syrup without actually tasting it, and that’s its color. The darker, the better. Unfortunately, people tend to get confused with the grade they see on the bottle. They see Grade A and assume that must be the best. Wrong! In Canada, maple syrup uses a letter grade, A to C, and in the US, chiefly Vermont, they use a number grade, 1-3. In both instances, Grade C and No. 3 are the highest grades of maple syrup, and also the most expensive. Now, unfortunately in Europe, you’re doing very well if you can get your hands on even a dark Grade A or No. 1. I have found one brand in Sweden called “Maple Joe”. It’s a Canadian syrup imported to the E.U. Though there is no grade on the bottle, I would guess it is in fact a lighter Grade B, or No.2.
There’s no sense in wasting your money on an expensive product you won’t even taste. You will, however, taste quality maple syrup, if you can find it. And if not, I recommend just using the artificial syrups that sometimes have up to 25% real maple.
I’m aware for many people these tarts can be quite expensive, after you’ve bought real butter, pecans, and real maple syrup, it’s going to be a chunk of cash from the grocery budget. First off, I truly believe it’s worth it, but that’s also why I only make them once a year. And secondly if you can’t find decent pure maple syrup, then don’t buy any.