A pecan tart from Genevieve Gergis is less sweet and gooey than it is fresh and balanced. “I really like the idea of pecan pie, but it can be so overwhelmingly sweet,” Gergis says. There are two things she does to correct this: One is to bake it in a tart pan for a higher ratio of pecans to custard, and the second thing is to add a little creme fraiche to the filling to mitigate the sugar with some lactic acidity. She loves creme fraiche so much that it’s in the dough as well as whipped and served on the side. “You get the flavor throughout the whole tart.”
Maple pecan tart with creme fraiche
Creme fraiche crust
In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar and salt together to combine. Add the frozen butter cubes and pulse until the butter is reduced to pea-sized balls. Add the creme fraiche and pulse until mixed and the dough begins to form clumps.
Remove the dough and form into a coarse ball, then flatten to form a disk. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
Roll the dough larger than the diameter of the 10-inch tart pan, approximately 12 inches in diameter. Chill the rolled dough for 30 minutes, then carefully fit it into the pan, trimming and saving any leftover dough. Freeze the dough until ready to bake, at least 1 hour.
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line the inside of the tart shell with foil and beans or pie weights. Blind-bake the frozen shell until set and golden on the sides, 20 to 25 minutes; the dough will shrink a bit on the sides. Remove the weights and foil and continue to bake until the crust is fully set and a deep golden brown, an additional 10 to 20 minutes.
Cool on a rack, then chill the shell until ready to complete the tart (chill up to one day before baking).
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk the vanilla and rum into the creme fraiche.
In a heavy saucepan, combine the butter, maple syrup, brown sugar and salt over low heat. Cook, continuously whisking, until the butter is completely melted and the mixture comes together. Increase the heat to high and continue to cook until the mixture is frothy and bubbly. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, for 1 minute.
Remove from heat and slowly and carefully add the creme fraiche mixture, whisking until smooth. Continue whisking, adding the yolks, one at a time. Stir in the pecans.
Fill the cold tart shell with the filling just to below the top of the crust; you may have a little filling leftover. Bake until the top has developed a crust and the filling looks set, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the tart from the oven and gently tap on the counter to release any air bubbles. Place on a rack to cool completely. Serve the cooled tart with whipped creme fraiche.