Pecan and salted caramel tart: A classic American pie with a twist

Kitchen Cabinet: Each step in this simple tart from Tara Gartlan, pastry chef at Michelin-starred The Greenhouse, takes just a few minutes

With this dessert, I wanted to put a twist on pecan pie as I like to work with almonds, pecans, and peanuts with chocolate and caramel. I love salted caramel, or a fruit caramel. I am especially fond of a passion fruit caramel or lime caramel for bonbons. I would eat this particular caramel with a spoon if I didn’t use it all right away.

This pudding is quite easy, the steps are very clear, and nothing has to set overnight. When I am at home, I prefer to use quite straightforward recipes that don’t have to set or chill, normally because I am always trying to do a million things at once. None of the steps takes more than five minutes to do, the longest part is just baking the tart case.

During lockdown, I’ve been cooking a lot for my family and cooking as much savoury as sweet. Normally I only bake for friends and family, for all the birthdays and special occasions. I love making someone’s favourite cake for their birthday and seeing their face.

There is definitely some American influence in my cooking because I grew up in New York. My mum and grandmothers always made sure I knew how to cook proper Irish food, but as many of my family members lived in New York, we have definitely adopted a lot of American foods into our family traditions too.

I love taking classic American pies or cookies and making them my own. Certain American classics will always hold a place in my heart.

Tara Gartlan is pastry chef at The Greenhouse restaurant in Dublin

Pecan and salted caramel tart

Serves 10


For the gluten-free chocolate sablé:
210g gluten free plain flour
20g cocoa powder, unsweetened
70g caster sugar
9g xanthan gum, gluten free ((Tesco and Supervalu both carry Doves Farm Xanthan Gum in the free-from range, in a small little tube similar to a baking powder container).
130g cold salted butter, diced
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp cold water

For the salted caramel:
190g caster sugar
100g cream
4g sea salt
160g cold salted butter, diced

For the crystallised pecans:
200g whole pecans
200g caster sugar
60g water
4g sea salt

For the dark chocolate ganache:
220g cream
1 tsp honey
200g 70% dark chocolate
For the whipped cream:
200g cream
50g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract


1. In a stand mixer, with a paddle attachment, mix the flour, cocoa powder, xanthan gum and caster sugar together.
2. Add the cold diced butter, continuing to mix with the paddle attachment until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
3. Mix the cold water with the egg yolk and add to the breadcrumb mix, mixing until comes together. If the dough isn't coming together, you can add a few more drops of water until dough forms.
4. Once the dough comes together, roll the pastry out immediately between two sheets of baking parchment larger than the tin you will be using. Chill for 30 minutes.
5. Preheat the fan oven to 170°C.
6. Lightly butter the tin. Peel off one of the sheets of baking parchment and use the side with the paper to help work the pastry into all the edges.
7. Remove the paper, trim the edges of the tart and put the baking parchment back on top for blind baking. (Use baking beans, rice or any dried pulses)
8. Blind bake at 170°C for 15 minutes with the paper, remove the paper and bake for a further 10 minutes.
9. For the caramel, put a pot on a low to medium heat. Make a dry caramel by adding a tablespoon of caster sugar at a time until it turns golden amber. Do not stir the sugar, just tilt the pot if you need to move the sugar. It shouldn't smoke, if it starts to smoke turn down the heat.
10. Once all the sugar is dissolved and amber in colour, add half the cream and stir with a wooden spoon. Add the rest of the cream and the sea salt. Let boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
11. Let caramel sit off the heat for 2 minutes and then start to hand blend in the butter until the mixture is smooth and glossy. Pass through a sieve. Set aside at room temperature.
12. For the crystallised pecans, toast the nuts at 170°C fan for 10 minutes. Set up a sheet of greaseproof paper on a tray next to the stove.
13. At the same time, put caster sugar and water into a saucepan on a medium heat. Bring the sugar up to 135°C (It won't have coloured at this point). Add the hot pecans to the hot sugar and stir until pecans are completely coated in the sugar.
14. Pour onto the greaseproof paper and start to separate the pecans from each other and make sure none of them are excessively coated in the sugar. Once cool, chop half the pecans.
15. For the ganache, bring cream and honey to the boil. Pour onto chocolate. Use a handblender to combine. Pass through a sieve. Keep at room temperature.
16. Whisk cream to soft peaks with the sugar and vanilla.

To assemble
Put the salted caramel and spread evenly on to the base of the tart case. Spread the chopped pecans.
2. Pour the ganache on top of the caramel and spread out. Top with the remaining pecans and sea salt.
3. Keep at room temperature and cut with a hot knife.
4. Serve with the whipped cream.

Kitchen Cabinet is a series of recipes from chefs who are members of Euro-Toques Ireland, who have come together during the coronavirus outbreak to share some of the easy, tasty things that they like to cook and eat at home #ChefsAtHome

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