Pecan Tart Recipe with Vanilla Cream

Helene

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This modern Pecan Tart Recipe with Vanilla Cream is a stunning dessert. Less traditional than the classic American Pecan pie but still with a lot of flavors, this tart features a sweet pastry crust, a pecan filling, whole pecan nuts, a creamy caramel, and a delicate diplomat cream.

pecan tart topped with vanilla cream, on a marble cake with pecan in background

This pecan tart recipe is a cross-over between American and French patisseries. The cozy flavor from the pecan pie and the elegance of French design make this showstopper dessert pure heaven.

This pecan tart recipe is easier than it might lead to think. Each layer is approachable for a home baker; it just requires a bit of organization. You can prepare this tart over two days, so you have less to stress about on the day you plan to serve it.

pecan tart topped with vanilla cream, on a marble cake with spoons by side

Why you’ll love this Pecan Tart Recipe with Vanilla Cream

  • This pecan pie tart is made completely from scratch
  • Perfect for the Holidays, it will become one of your favorite Thanksgiving pies.
  • Stunning but approachable for the home baker
  • Easy to make-ahead
  • A new recipe to enjoy pecan desserts

Note about the Ingredients 

  • For the tart case, check my Sweet Pastry Recipe for all the details.
  • The Pecan filling is made with butter, sugar, eggs, and ground pecans (whole pecans, grounded in the food processor). The filling is topped with whole pecans.
  • Check my Caramel Recipe for full details. It requires glucose to keep this creamy texture and prevent it from getting hard when set. You can use store-bought caramel if you want to cut the preparation time. Make sure to use a smooth and creamy caramel spread, not a runny sauce. The best I know is the caramel spread from Bonne Maman.
  • Vanilla Cream: it’s a Diplomat Cream that requires 2 steps. The first step is a vanilla pastry cream with added gelatine. Then, when the pastry cream is set, we add whipped cream. Not all gelatines are equal. Check your gelatine strength and adapt if needed. Check my blackberry tart recipe, section “How to adjust the quantity of gelatine?” you will get all the information about gelatine.

Full instructions are at the bottom of the page. Get all measurements, ingredients, and instructions in the printable version at the end of this post.

pecan tart topped with vanilla cream, top view

Equipment

  • Stand mixer with the paddle attachment but not compulsory. It just makes things easier to make the sweet pastry.
  • Pie weights
  • Food processor to ground the whole pecans.
  • Electric mixer for the pecan filling and whipped cream.
  • Tart ring: 8in (20cm). I use a perforated ring, but feel free to use a fluted tart pan. Prefer a loose base tart tin, if you be easier to remove.
  • OPTIONAL: Perforated silicone sheet and a perforated aluminum sheet pan. The tart shell will be perfectly baked without bubbling because the steam can escape. Otherwise use a baking sheet and parchment paper.

Process

I prepare the pecan tart over 3 days. There’s a lot going on but with simple stepsHere’s my organization:

Day 1:

Pastry shell: I prepare the dough and line a tart ring, then wrap it with cling film and let it chill in the fridge for 2 days.

Salted caramel sauce: You will need less than half of the batch for this tart. Once cooled, place it in the fridge. You can store it for up to 4 weeks, so you can make it ahead of time if you wish.

Day 2:

Vanilla Cream: I prepare the first part of, which means the vanilla pastry cream with added gelatine. Once done, cover with cling film, make sure to touch the surface, and place in the fridge overnight.

Day 3:

Bake, pecan filling, 2nd part of the Diplomat cream (=whipped cream), and assembly.

Note: you can also prepare and assemble the entire pecan tart recipe a day before you plan to serve it and let it in the fridge overnight under a cake dome.

Check my video for the assembly. The process is sped up to keep the video short.

FAQ

Can you freeze the tart? 

Unfortunately, one is finished, no, you can’t freeze this pecan tart recipe. The diplomat cream will lose its texture.

Can I make ahead of time this pecan tart recipe?

I prepare this pecan tart recipe over 2 days. Check the section just above if you haven’t read it

  • The dough for the tart shell can be frozen; check the sweet pastry recipe for details. Freeze and defrost when ready to prepare the tart. Or you can prepare the dough 1 or 2 days before and let it chill overnight.
  • The caramel sauce can be made ahead of time, until 4 weeks before.
  • The day before, you can prepare the vanilla pastry cream (part of the diplomat cream), let it chill in the fridge overnight, and finish the diplomat cream when ready to assemble.

How to store it?

The pecan tart is best when serving the day, it’s made. Any leftovers: under a cake dome or in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.

Tips

  • Read the entire pecan tart recipe before starting.
  • Check the following blog post: sweet pastry, caramel sauce, vanilla pastry cream. There are full of tips and very detailed. Note: The quantity for the vanilla pastry cream has been adapted for this recipe.
  • For decoration, feel free to decorate as you desire. If you like the same design as me, I use 2 different pipping tips and pipe randomly: a large round tip and an open star tip.
  • Check my video just above. I recorded the assembly part to give you an idea.
slice of pecan tart topped with vanilla cream, on a cream plate

Try these recipes, next

If you tried this Pecan Tart Recipe or any recipe on the blog, let me know how you liked it by leaving a comment below. Find me on InstagramFacebook and Pinterest for even more tips and recipes.

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  • Prep time: 1 hour
  • Cook time: 1 hour
  • Total time: 4 hours
  • Serves: 8

This pecan tart recipe is a cross-over between American and French patisseries. The cozy flavor from the pecan pie and the elegance of French design make this showstopper dessert pure heaven.

Ingredients

Sweet Pastry

  • 115 g (1stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 75 g (3/4 cup) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 25 g (1/4 cup) ground almonds, sifted
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 egg , (about 55g)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 250 g (2 cups) all-purpose flour

Caramel sauce

  • 100 g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
  • 80 g (4 tbsp) glucose syrup
  • 60 g (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, diced
  • 240 ml (1cup) heavy cream, 30-36% milk fat
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Vanilla Cream

  • 4 g (1.5 tsp) gelatine powder, strength : 200 Bloom
  • 25 ml (1 tbsp + 1tsp) cold water
  • 20 cl (3/4 cup + 1 tbsp) milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 35 g (3 tbsp) caster sugar
  • 20 g (2.5 tbsp) cornstarch
  • 8 g (1 tbsp) all-purpose flour
  • 20 g (1 tbsp + 1tsp) unsalted butter, diced
  • 20 cl (3/4 cup + 1 tbsp) heavy cream, 30-36% milk fat

Pecan Filling

  • 75 g (2/3 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 75 g (1/3 cup + 1 tbsp) caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 100 g (1 cup) pecan nuts, grounded
  • 50 g (1/2 cup) whole pecan nuts

Decoration

  • whole pecan nuts

Method

Tart Shell (sweet pastry dough)

  • 1)

    Prepare 1 batch of the sweet pastry. Line the tart ring with the dough and let it chill in the fridge for 2 hours at least, best overnight.

Caramel Sauce

  • 1)

    Prepare 1 batch of the caramel sauce at least 4 hours before or best the day before. You will use about half of a batch. Feel free to cut the ingredients in half if desired or use any leftovers on crepes or with any other recipe.

Vanilla Cream

  • 1)

    Start to bloom the gelatine: In a small bowl, pour the cold water, sprinkle the gelatine, give a quick stir, and set a few minutes until the gelatine is bloomed. Set aside

  • 2)

    Add the milk and vanilla extract into a saucepan. Heat the milk over medium heat and bring it to a simmer, almost to a boil.

  • 3)

    While the milk is being heated, place the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl. Whisk until well combined, smooth and a lighter color.

  • 4)

    Add the cornstarch and flour to the egg mixture. Whisk until smooth.

  • 5)

    As soon as the milk starts to simmer / first bubbles, remove it from the heat. Gradually pour the hot milk over the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly.

  • 6)

    Return the mixture into the saucepan and cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly, until it begins to thicken.

  • 7)

    Let the custard come to a boil, lower the heat and cook for a further 1 to 2 minutes, until the mixture is thick. (Once cooled, the cream will be thicker.)

  • 8)

    Remove from the heat and transfer the cream into a glass / ceramic bowl. Add the bloomed gelatine and mix until fully dissolved and incorporated (Note: ensure the cream is not too hot before adding the gelatine).

  • 9)

    Add the butter immediately, and let it melt for 2 to 3 minutes.  Then, whisk until the butter it’s completely melted and mixed in. At the beginning, the vanilla cream looks curdled, don’t worry, that’s normal, keep whisking until smooth.

  • 10)

    Cover immediately the surface with plastic wrap, making sure to touch the surface. It prevents skin from developing. Place in the fridge as soon as you can and let it cool completely until the gelatine is set. ( 2 hours at least).

    Note: the heavy cream will be added later.

Pecan Filling

  • 1)

    Prepare the pecan filling when you prebake the tart shell. Ground the pecan nuts with a food processor: 100g (1 cup). Set aside.

  • 2)

    With an electric mixer, cream the butter with caster sugar until fluffy, soft, and easily spreadable.

  • 3)

    Add the eggs, one at a time, beating between each addition until fully incorporated. The cream will split a bit and get back to the right texture when adding the ground pecans.

  • 4)

    Add the ground pecans and mix until fully incorporated. Use it straight away. See assembly.

Assembly

  • 1)

    Preheat the oven to 170°C, fan assisted. Make sure you poke the dough of your tart shell. Line the tart shell with baking paper, and ensure it sits on the side of the dough. Fill with baking beans / ceramic pie weights.

  • 2)

    Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven. Carefully remove the paper and beans (Be careful, there are very hot) and let the tart shell cool slightly for a few minutes before adding the pecan cream filling. Note: If you use a tart ring, you can remove it.

  • 3)

    Add the pecan cream filling and spread evenly with a palette spatula or the back of a spoon.

    Top with the whole pecan nuts and slightly push them into the pecan cream.

  • 4)

    Return the tart to the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes until the pecan cream is cooked. (It took me 18 min). Let cool completely before processing the next step.

  • 5)

    When cooled, add a generous layer of caramel sauce, and spread evenly.

  • 6)

    Finish the Diplomat Cream: Place the heavy cream in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or use an electric mixer. Gradually, whip until stiff peaks. Don’t overwhip to avoid a grainy whipped cream.

    In a large bowl, place the vanilla pastry cream (made previously, it should be a bit “sturdy” at this stage). With a rubber spatula, soften the cream. Add 1/3 of whipped cream and fold. Add the remaining whipped cream and gently fold until fully incorporated. Use it straight away or cover it with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge until ready to use.

  • 7)

    Place the Diplomat Cream in a piping bag fitted with a tip of your choice and pipe some blobs over the caramel. I use two pipping tips: a round tip and an open star tip.

  • 8)

    Top with some pecan nuts and place in the fridge until ready to serve.

Notes

– US/UK baking spoons:  teaspoon: 5ml / tablespoon: 15ml / cup: 240ml. For more accuracy and better results, use the measurements in grams & ml. 

– quantity for an 8 inch (20 cm) tart ring mould.

– The Pecan Tart is best when serving the day, it’s made. Any leftovers: under a cake dome or in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.

– Scroll back to read tips and frequently asked questions within the blog post that you might find helpful

– I highly recommend getting a precise measurement for the gelatine to obtain the right texture. Make sure to use a gelatin with a strength of 200 Bloom (Gold gelatine) or adapt the quantity. See my Blackberry recipe,section “How to adjust the quantity of gelatine?”

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