Chocolate Pecan Tart

18 November 2023 Vegetarian Friendly
This tart (or pie, depending where you live) started its life as a very Southern, cloyingly sweet pecan pie in a layer of fudge chocolate, basically a quintessential Thanksgiving and festive classic. Handed down to me by a force of nature in my life, Claire was my London based surrogate American grandmother who taught me just about everything I ever needed to know about effortless entertaining with understated elegance. Many of my treasured pieces of crockery and linen were once hers and she is often in the kitchen with me, whispering suggestions and directions into my ear with her gentle, no nonsense Southern drawl.

But this recipe came into its own last year when I turned this 1970’s classic into a refined and luxurious, slightly Anglicised, Karo syrup free, heavily chocolatey tart for our Pump Street Bakery kitchen takeover.  This became a tart no longer reserved only for Thanksgiving, it’s now an all year around treat that happens to also appear at every Festive Feast. 

The “always toast your nuts” rule applies here. I urge you to go the extra micro effort and don’t be tempted to skip drizzling your pecans with maple syrup and a sprinkle of salt before popping them in the oven.  It makes all the difference and you should probably make an extra batch for snacks, salads, garnish, cocktails……..

As far as tarts go, this is an extremely forgiving recipe.  Please feel free to use your favourite pie crust (I won’t tell anyone if you use shop bought – don’t let the pastry deter you from making this recipe).  I have included mine here, from my friend Laurel Kratochvila’s fabulous and essential book, New European Baking.  This recipe changed my pastry life forever – it’s simple to make, forgiving to roll and so delicately delicious with the addition of ground almonds.  

Jo Brennan and I filmed this recipe for our Pump Street at Home series.

For the Pastry

  • 120g (1/2cup + 1tbsp) butter, cubed and cold
  • 220g (1 3/4 cup + 1tbsp) plain flour
  • 65g (2/3 cup) ground almonds (or walnut or hazelnut meal)
  • 60g (1/2 cup + 1tbsp) confectioners sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp flaky sea salt
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Filling

  • 150g butter 
  • 200g dark chocolate (I love the Pump Street 85% here, but 70% or over is ideal)
  • 200g dark muscovado sugar
  • 150g golden syrup
  • 4 large eggs
  • 60ml bourbon (I have also used espresso which works brilliantly if you prefer)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt (if using unsalted butter)
  • 150g maple roast pecans (or simply toasted)

A 24-26cm deep fluted tart tin with a removable base is ideal here.  (You can also make this in a pie dish but you may not be able to remove it once baked. )

Make and blind bake the pastry:

In a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, rub the flour and butter together with your fingertips or slowly with the paddle attachment until its a uniform sandy texture and there are no lumps of butter.  

Add the ground almonds, confectioners sugar and mix, followed by the egg and vanilla.  Mix by hand until just incorporated, making sure not to overwork the dough. 

Form the dough into a flattened disc and wrap it airtight in cling film.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and upto 3 days.  You can also freeze it for upto 2 months.

When ready to blind bake your crust, remove it from the fridge, and on a lightly floured surface, bash it with a rolling pin to break it up a little and soften it before rolling out into a 2-3cm (1/4-1/8 inch) thickness, turning after every roll.  

Carefully place into your tart tin, trim the edge and return to the fridge for about 30 minutes.  

Preheat your oven to 170C (340F) while the dough chills.  When you are ready to blind bake, pick the base all over with a fork, cover with a piece of parchment paper and fill with baking beans.  Bake blind for 15 minutes until light tan in colour.  Cool while you make the filling.  

Make the Maple Roast Pecans

These can be made in advance and kept in a jar for a couple of months (although beware as they might not last a couple of minutes).  You can also roast them while your pastry is blind baking

If you are opting out of the Maple Syrup option (which I do not recommend), you still need to toast your pecans for flavour and crunch here.  Toast for 10  minutes in the oven while the pastry is baking or any other convenient time. 

Make the Filling and Bake the Tart

(note: the tart also bakes at 170C/340F)

In a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt together the butter and chocolate.  

Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. 

Stir in the dark muscovado sugar.  Once completely incorporated, add the golden syrup, followed by the eggs, one at a time until the mixture is smooth and unctuous. Sprinkle through a small pinch of salt if using unsalted butter

Add the bourbon (or coffee) and vanilla and finally stir through the pecans, allowing them to break a little as you stir them through.  Reserve a few to decorate the tops if you so desire (although I generally don’t bother).  

Bake for 45-50 minutes for a single tart until set, but still soft and with no wobble. 

This holds very well until the following day making this a perfect make ahead festive dessert.

Have you made this dish?

Let me know what you think, share your efforts and any tweaks you made to the recipe on Instagram, don’t forget to tag #BuildingFeasts or email me on