Welcome to another edition of Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a progressive dinner party. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats, a theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out.
We have a core group of 12 bloggers, but we will always need substitutes and if there is enough interest would consider additional groups. To see our upcoming themes and how you can participate, please check out the schedule at Creative Culinary or contact Barb for more information.
This month’s theme is Great Holiday Desserts hosted by Jenni Field at Pastry Chef Online. Cookies, cakes, pies and more for your holiday party planning!
Hooray for Progressive Eats!
I was so bummed out to miss last month’s Progressive Eats virtual progressive dinner, but I hope you caught my round-up of everyone else’s goodies. This month I’m back, and I’m really excited to be the host of this month’s Progressive Eats meal. Since the holidays are getting closer and closer every day, I thought we’d all bring you Great Holiday Desserts! There is something for everyone this month from cookies to tarts to cheesecakes. Each of them delicious and each more than worthy of finding a place on your holiday table. So, from our virtual tables to yours, I give you Progressive Eats: Great Holiday Desserts!
I had planned on making small tartlets for Barb’s cocktail party last month, so I’m bringing back my original idea but making it as a tart. Tartlets are perfect for eating out of hand as one mingles at a cocktail party, but I think a full-sized tart is a pretty spectacular presentation for the holidays. The hint of coffee in the filling tones down the often-too-sweet pecan filling and adds a lovely and sophisticated twist to a holiday classic. The shortcrust is sturdy and crumbly and would make fantastic tea cookies should you decide to try that sometime.
Great Holiday Desserts
- Brown Sugar Pumpkin Cheesecake with Bourbon and Caramel Sauce
- Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream Cake Roll
- Bourbon Cajeta Apple Butter Goat Cheese Cheesecake
- Mini Mascarpone Cheesecakes
- Vanilla Rum-Chocolate Chestnut Saint Honoré
Pies and Tarts
Coffee Pecan Tart with Orange Sable Crust
I find pecan pie to generally be overly sweet with that odd layer of goo lingering under the nuts. It’s not that I don’t like it really. I just think it’s a bit one-note. Most folks don’t toast their nuts before baking, and many recipes don’t call for any salt or “just a pinch,” which most people interpret as 3 flakes. Nuts need salt and nuts need toasting. And what’s better with a slice of toasted, salted, pecany goodness than a cup of coffee? Nothing. So I put the coffee right in the tart, and what room isn’t taken up by coffee is wall to wall, floor to ceiling pecans. Just look!
- 4.5 oz unsalted butter at cool room temperature (1 stick plus 1 Tablespoon)
- 3.5 oz granulated sugar (1/2 cup)
- 1 large egg
- zest of 1/2 medium orange (I recommend a using a Microplane for the finest zest)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 8.75 oz all purpose flour (2 cups measured by whisking the flour, lightly spooning it in your cup and then leveling it off. Honestly, just get a scale) 🙂
- 3 cups pecan halves or pieces
- 1 1/2 cups lightly packed dark brown sugar (10.5 oz. You can substitute light brown)
- 4 oz unsalted butter , soft but not greasy (1 stick)
- 1 large egg
- 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon freeze-dried coffee (4 teaspoons. I used Cafe Bustelo)
- 1 Tablespoon Kahlua or other coffee liqueur
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until it is a uniform paste. You don't want to beat a lot of air into the mixture, so do this on low speed. Scrape down the bowl as necessary.
- Add the egg, orange zest and salt and mix until nice and smooth. If it does look a bit curdled, worry not. Everything will smooth out when you add the flour.
- Add the flour all at once and mix in on low speed until you have what looks like cookie dough.
- Roll out into a rough 11" circle between two pieces of parchment paper. Chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
- Fit the dough into a 9" tart pan with a removable bottom. You can also make this in a 9" pie pan if you prefer. Press the dough gently into the corners of the pan while lifting the edges. Try not to stretch the dough. (Sable is way more forgiving than a regular flaky pie crust, but still, it's good practice not to be gentle with pastry.) Press the dough up the sides of the pan. If any part seems too thin (you want it about 3/16" thick or so), tear off an excess piece and reinforce any thin sides. Just press it together like Play-Doh. All is well.
- Trim off the excess dough with a serrated knife, sweeping it along from the inside of the tart pan to the outside, using the edge of the pan to cut the dough off evenly.
- Freeze for at least an hour or for up to a month (well-wrapped). When ready to bake, remove from the freezer and prick the bottom all over with the tip of a small, sharp knife.
- Line the tart shell with some crumpled-then-uncrumpled parchment or a commercial-sized coffee filter. Fill with beans or pie weights and blind bake at 350 for 15 minutes.
- Remove the shell from the oven and remove the lining and beans.
- Bake for another 5-6 minutes, or until the bottom of the tart is nice and dry.
- Let the tart shell cool for at least 30 minutes, or until just warm.
- Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and toast at 350F for 8-10 minutes, stirring them every couple of minutes, until very fragrant. You can also do this on the stove-top in a dry skillet. Just keep the nuts moving so you don't burn them. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
- In a large bowl, combine all the rest of the ingredients and stir together until completely mixed. This mixture will be very thick.
- Pour in the pecans and mix thoroughly.
- Spread the filling into the cooled tart shell evenly, making sure to work it into all the corners. It should completely fill the tart shell to the top.
- Bake for 20 minutes at 350F. Cover with foil to prevent over-browning and bake an additional 5 minutes, until the tart is slightly puffy all over and a deep, golden brown.
- Cool on a wire rack until warm. Remove the tart ring and cool to room temperature. Serve warm or at room temperature, with or without some lightly sweetened whipped cream.
I adapted the filling recipe from this caramelized pecan tart on Simply Recipes.
This tart is nice and sturdy. I don't mean that in a bad way. You could even cut it in squares and eat it like a brownie. The crust is lovely and crumbly when you bite into it, but it's firm enough to stay in one piece when you pick it up. You'll notice even the bottom ring is off the tart in some of the photos, and I was able to move it carefully without its cracking apart. One less thing to have to worry about on Thanksgiving day!
Friends in the United States, I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving surrounded by dear friends and family and full of delicious food prepared with love. And to the rest of you, I wish you all many, many meals just like it, whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read today. I do hope you will make the rounds on the Progressive Eats circuit and check out everyone’s offerings. You’ll be glad you did. Take care, and have a lovely day.