Mini Maple Pecan Tarts

I love these - I love the combination of maple syrup, roasted pecan nuts & a delicious vanilla shortcrust pastry. When I was a child my parents had a pecan orchard so we always had pecans on hand. Every now & then I make something with pecans & maple syrup & I don't tell my family how many I have made (or how many I have eaten).

Ingredients

Pastry

250 g Bakers' Magic Gluten free flour

65 g Icing sugar

~1/8 tsp Salt

125 g Butter (melted)

1 Egg yolk

10 g Vanilla bean paste

10 g Water

extra Bakers' Magic Gluten free flour

 

Maple caramel

100 g Raw sugar

75 g Maple syrup

300 g Thickened cream (I use a 300 ml container)

100 g Butter

Pecan nuts (~2 nuts/mini tart)

 

Method

Sift together the Bakers' Magic Gluten free flour, icing sugar & salt.

In another container melt the butter.

Add the water, egg yolk & vanilla bean paste to the melted butter. Stir to combine. Don't let this mixture cool.

Pour the melted butter mix over the combined dry ingredients & stir to combine.

It can be mixed by hand, fork or wooden spoon. Mechanical devices can over mix the dough very easily, it is best done by hand.

At this stage the dough will feel slightly greasy. Wrap the dough in plastic clingwrap or put it in a plastic bag & store in the fridge for approximately 1 hour.     

Cooling the dough is important - after cooling the butter is fully absorbed, flexibility is increased & the dough is easier to handle.

Bring the dough out of the fridge, it will be quite hard. Leave the dough on the bench to warm up a little. 

Making the caramel

The caramel doesn't have to be made on the day of baking. If you make the caramel ahead of time or want to make one large tart you may need to add a little glucose syrup to prevent crystallisation - refer to the recipe for the Caramel Peanut Tart.

Put the sugar, cream, butter & maple syrup into a saucepan. The saucepan needs to be large enough to contain the caramel when it is cooking - it will increase in volume ~3 x.

Heat the mixture gently (at first) to melt the butter. At this stage you can stir the mixture.

Turn the heat up when the butter has melted. Do not stir the mixture after it starts to boil.

Boil the mixture for 5 mins.

Remove from heat & do not stir the mixture. If you are making the caramel ahead of time store the caramel once it has cooled in a clean glass jar.

Rolling out the dough

Lightly dust a clean work surface (silicon mat, baking paper) with some of the extra Bakers' Magic Gluten free flour

Knead the dough until it is soft enough to roll out.

To stop the dough sticking to surfaces lightly dust them with some of the extra Bakers' Magic Gluten free flour.

To ensure the dough is an even thickness follow this tip. Find 2 two pieces of cardboard (2-3 mm thick) place one on either side of the dough. I have thrown away my cardboard pieces & now have stainless steel spacers 1 mm, 2 mm & 3 mm thick - they are much easier to clean. When rolling out the dough ensure the rolling pin is wide enough to span the dough and part of the top of the cardboard. My rolling pin is large – 61 cm from handle to handle. If your rolling pin is smaller it may be easy to half the dough. Initially when rolling the pin may not necessarily rest on the cardboard, however, when the dough is the same thickness as the cardboard it will. At this stage the dough should be all the same thickness.

For the Mini Maple Pecan Tarts pictured above I used a scalloped pastry cutter (68 mm 2 5/8 inch), rolled the pastry out to be 3 mm thick & baked them in a 12 mini tart pan (60 mm diameter - I have 3 of these).    

Grease the mini tart pan. For each tart pan cut out 24 thin strips of baking paper (~12 cm x 2 cm) & lay them like a cross in each of the wells in the tray. This will help to easily get the pastry cases out of the pan.

Using a pastry cutter slightly bigger than the holes in the pan cut out pastry disks & transfer these to the individual wells in the tart pan. When you have cut out as many disks as possible bring the dough together and roll it out again. Continue cutting out disks in the newly rolled dough. Repeat until you either can't cut out any more disks or you have enough. If there is any dough left over it can be frozen for use later.

Put ~ 1 teaspoon of the caramel into each well on top of the dough. The actual amount of caramel will depend on the size of the well. During baking the caramel will increase in volume ~3 x. 

Place approximately 2 pecans (broken up) on top of the caramel. Sometimes little bits of the shell/woody material can be found in some of the fissures on the pecan (even those bought in packets at the supermarket), these need to be removed as they are really bitter. I usually break the pecans by hand to check & remove any of the woody material.    

Bake the mini tarts ~10 - 15 mins at 170 C. The actual time will depend on your oven, the thickness of the pastry & how much caramel has been added. 

Allow the mini tarts to cool considerably before attempting to eat them. The pastry is very short & crumbly when the tarts are hot, it will become more robust when the tarts have cooled.