1 cup (130 grams) all purpose flour
1/3 cup (35 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (113 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/4 cups (125 grams) pecans
4 ounces (115 grams) full fat cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup (105 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup (160 ml) half-and-half cream or light cream, at room temperature (Half-and-half cream is a mixture of cream and whole milk and contains 10 - 12% butterfat.)
Shortbread Crust: You will need either an 8 or a 9 inch (20-23 cm) tart pan with a removable bottom.
In your food processor, place the flour, sugar, and salt and process to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the pastry just starts to come together to form clumps. Place the pastry in your tart pan and, using your fingertips, evenly press the pastry onto the bottom and up the sides of your pan. Gently pierce the bottom of the crust with the tines of a fork. (This will prevent the pastry crust from puffing up while it bakes.) Cover and place the pastry crust in the freezer for about 15 minutes to chill. (This will help prevent the crust from shrinking while it bakes.)
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven.
When ready, place the tart pan on a larger baking pan and bake until the crust is golden brown, about 13 - 15 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool while you make the filling.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Place pecans on a baking sheet and bake for about 8 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool on a wire rack and then chop coarsely.
Custard: In your food processor (you can also mix the ingredients together in your electric mixer or with a hand mixer) place the cream cheese and process until smooth. Add the sugar and salt and process until incorporated. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and process until thoroughly combined. Finally, add the cream and process until well blended and smooth.
Evenly distribute the chopped pecans over the bottom of the pre baked tart shell. Gently pour the filling over the pecans and bake for approximately 25 - 30 minutes or until filling is set. Transfer tart to wire rack to cool. Cover and store leftovers in the refrigerator.
Makes about 8 - 10 servings.
Although Pecan Pie is a staple at most Thanksgiving gatherings, a nice alternative is to make this Pecan Custard Tart. I love this combination, the sweet and creamy custard filling and the pieces of caramel flavored, buttery, soft-textured pecans inside a buttery crisp shortbread crust. It's great either warm or cold and you could even drizzle a little melted chocolate over the cooled tart, if you dare.
This Pecan Custard Tart has a Shortbread Crust. I think its' crisp texture and buttery flavor goes perfectly with the rich and creamy pecan custard filling. Most of us think of shortbread as a cookie, but it makes a great crust that is very easy to put together in your food processor. Then just press the pastry into your tart pan and place into the freezer. We freeze the tart shell because it needs to be pre baked, only I don't want to fuss and do the usual covering the crust with parchment paper and filling it with pie weights. When you freeze the tart shell it makes this step unnecessary. Once the crust is baked, chopped pecans (that we toast first to bring out their caramel flavor) are spread on the bottom of the pastry crust before the filling is added. However you will notice that the pecans do rise to the surface during baking.