A pecan Patronus, surprisingly from the school of dark tarts

Pecan tart

Before the Harry Potter police descend on Gourmandistan like a pack of Dementors at a Quidditch match, let it be said that Gourmandistan understands Patronus charms are not usually uttered by pecans. But we do feel pecans need some protection. Too often well-meaning kitchen wizards whip up pecan pies, imprisoning the nuts in sickly sweet sugar goo that sucks the soul from the nut. Especially if we’re shelling them ourselves, we Gourmandistanis want our pecans to be the star when we use them. So on their behalf, we conjure up a dark tart.

Pecan Tart2

The secret to this flavorful, magical dessert is darkness, mixed with thinness. Dark brown sugar and dark corn syrup have more depth and less sweet than their light counterparts. Tarts are also thinner than pies, so there is less sugary filling and more pecan flavor. Perhaps no pecan will ever say “Expecto Patronum,” but Gourmandistan would like to think the little kernels appreciate our efforts.

Pecan tart



  • Servings: one 10-inch tart
  • Print

  • 1 recipe pâte brisée
  • Heaping cup of pecan halves
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c. dark brown corn syrup
  • 3/4 c. dark brown sugar
  • 1 TB bourbon whiskey
  • Generous pinch salt

Roll out pastry and place in a 10″ tart pan. Prick bottom and sides with a fork and place in freezer for at least 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375° F. Line crust with foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Pre-bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and weights and bake for 10 minutes more uncovered. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack.

Beat eggs, syrup, sugar, bourbon and salt together in a bowl.

Place pecan halves, ridged side up, on top of crust in concentric circles. Pour filling mixture over. Fill in with additional pecans if needed.

Bake for about 25 minutes, until filling is almost firm in the center. Cool on a wire rack.


    • It is funny what a small area of the world they are found in, isn’t it? Wikipedia says they grow in various places other than the U.S. South including “Australia, Brazil, China, Israel, Mexico, Peru and South Africa.” Who knew? Surely I didn’t.

  1. I love this. Your dark tart, and the clever description that goes along with it! I’m not sure I knew that dark brown sugar and dark corn syrup were less sweet… but most pecan pies are a little too sweet for me (even though I still love them…), so your adjustments sound perfect. And the tart sounds utterly magical. 🙂

    • Thanks, Allison! You’re right: of course, it’s all sweet. But I think the extra molasses in dark brown sugar and syrup adds a slightly bitter note that tones down the cloying nature.

  2. I’m with you, let those delicious pecans shine, don’t drown then in teeth jarring sweetness. We have wonderful pecans in Australia, this is the perfect way to show them off. Did you know that the pecan is the most digestible of all nuts?

  3. When I first read “The school of dark tarts” I totally giggled. Then I got to the picture and just started to drool. Pecan pie is usually too sweet for me, it makes my teeth hurt just thinking about it. That tart, on the other hand, just looks perfect! Yum!

    • I know. There are some really, really awful ones. Cloying, weeping yuck covered with stale nuts. Decades ago, my mother and I set out to make the best one and we tried tons of recipes. That was when I decided that dark is the way to go.

    • Aw, thanks. Steve gets all the credit for that. He made me listen to the first Harry Potter book on audio on a long road trip. Too much Quidditch for me and I never went further. But he loved all those books.

  4. It’s been years since I last ate a pecan tart. Yours looks PERFECT and the fact that you’ve used Harry Potter references? Even better!!! Can I please attend the school of dark tarts? Preferably the pecan one…

    • Thanks, Laura! Steve gets all the credit for the writing. I’m mostly a non-fiction reader and just never got into the H.P. thing. But Steve liked them enough for both of us!

    • I loved learning that they’re grown in Australia. I always thought of them as such a Southern U.S. thing, especially since nobody in Europe seems to have them. (And we’ll have to thank Steve for the H.P. references.)

  5. Pecans are near and dear to our hearts, with G being from Georgia. This is what I would call a perfect pecan pie. Way to protect and nourish the sacred fruit. 🙂 Very nice use of the darker, molasses-rich sugars and a great Kentucky touch with the bourbon! I agree with a previous commenter… a touch of bourbon in the whipped cream, as well, would be complete decadence. Speaking of decadence, I would be quite tempted to scatter some dark chocolate on top of the pâte brisée before the gorgeous filling is poured on…

  6. Beautiful. I’ve never made it with the dark sugar and dark corn syrup. I must. I like that you’ve delved into the dark arts for this one. Beautiful photos too.

    • Thanks, Amanda! I like the slightly bitter note that the extra molasses gives and often use dark brown sugar if the color isn’t going to be a problem.

  7. You nailed it. Pecan pie is – in my northerner experience – such an achingly sweet dessert that unless I have a gallon of espresso to wash it down I avoid it. This looks great and the first photo says it all – I took one look and said, “That is THIN – great, not so much gunk.” Okay, I’ve pinned it – my next indulgence. Ken

  8. It wasn’t until recently that I finally found a place that sells pecan nuts here in Barcelona! Yeah, something so easy anywhere else and I used to have to get it whenever I went to France! This was (again) already pinned to my Pinterest.. I may have to make a board called Gourmandistan 😉 This also looks wonderful and I want to make it. D you think I could replace the corn syrup with a bit of honey or something? As I have no idea where I can get that here either!

  9. I love the clever play on your choice of wording here and most certainly I can see little witches & wizards, magicking up this tart, in a flash. We could all be enticed to the school of dark tarts, with this recipe. 😉

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