31. Caramel Cranberry Pecanipane tart

Nothing quite says the holiday season is here like spotting piles of bagged cranberries at your grocery.  I always buy a bag as soon as I can because I love cranberries and couldn’t be happier than when I sit in the cold to eat steaming cranberry sauce topped with some vanilla ice cream out of a wine goblet for dinner. What can I say– I love my tart fruits.

I’ve been tempted to make “pecanipane” (I have no idea what to actually call the equivalent of frangipane made with pecans instead of almonds) before.  But my stock of fruit was oddly low- I had apples… and that “first of the season” bag of cranberries in my freezer.  So I did some searches for pecan frangipane and lo and behold, I came across this: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2008/11/cranberry-pecan-frangipane-tart/

That looked decent– but she referenced an “Cranberry, Caramel, Almond tart” that sounded even better.  So I did my usual tactic: I read both recipes once, and took the gist of them combined into one tart.

Drawing a page from my `Samoa Cookie Pie’ recipe, I scrapped traditional pate brisee for my grandmother’s toffee bar dough.  It’s easy, tasty, holds up nicely, and doesn’t shrink.  You can find the recipe on that post.  Make sure you save the white of the egg, because it conveniently goes into the pecanipane.  It’s like these two were made for each other.

After making the dough, firmly press it into 2 pie pans.  It should easily fit both (you do not want it to be too thick.  Only one of these will be used for the pie– the other you can top with chocolate, nuts, or mayhap even use for that samoa pie.  Pre-bake these for ~10–15 minutes at 375F until lightly golden brown.

Pecanipane

  • 3/4 cups pecan meal
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 5 Tbsp butter (at room temperature)
  • 1 egg and 1 egg white
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Beat together the pecan, flour and sugar (in a stand mixer, blender, or other efficient mixing device).  Add the softened butter and beat until creamy.  Add in the egg, vanilla and salt and mix thoroughly.   Pour into one pie crust.

Pecanipane-filled pre-baked toffee crust.

Caramel

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup pecans (alternately, reserve these and put on top of the pecanipane directly before candying)
  • 1 hearty splash of cream (or in my case, eggnog)
  • 3Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/2tsp vanilla

Making pecan-flavored caramel. Part 1: melt the sugar.

Heat sugar and salt (and pecans) over medium-high flame in a pan- swirling the pan regularly to more evenly heat.  Cook until sugar is browning and bubbly.  Add pecans if desired to get some of the pecan flavor in the caramel. Turn heat to low.

Part 2: salivate over the candied pecans. Set a few aside just to crunch on.

Add butter, cream, and vanilla. Stir together and remove from heat.

Place 1/3 cup cranberries and 1/4 cup (candied) pecans over the pecanipane.

Cranberry/nut laden top.

Here you can see that I dumped milk chocolate onto the remaining toffee bar immediately after removing it from the oven. I then stirred in some excess caramel and topped with chopped pecans. Easy, tasty, fast.

Dump (or, if you care for aesthetics, drizzle) the caramel over the top.

Unceremoniously topped with caramel. Who needs to stand on ceremony when there’s caramel involved???

Bake at 350F for about 30minutes.

Complete. Not the prettiest, but you can always hide that by sifting some powdered sugar over the top, and trimming the crust evenly after baking.  Or you can not really care.

Remove from oven, let cool.  Enjoy.

This is a winning flavor combination: I’d never really thought of caramel and cranberries together before: but now I might even consider making a batch of cranberry caramel with cranberries tossed in with the unheated sugar.  It’s a wonderful combination– and the pecanipane was expectedly delicious.  The candied pecans worried me for a bit, as I thought they might be too crunchy.  However, everything worked very well both texturally and taste-wise.  You can cut this tart and, since the crust is toffee bar, pick it up and eat it with your hands.  Or you could dress this up and make a very fancy, unique dessert out of it.  Either way, it’s delicious, it’s festive, and it’s gone.

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