Today I’m bringing you this wonderful coffee pecan tart. This coffee tart is a tasty and slightly outside-the-ordinary Thanksgiving dessert with a great flavor profile: coffee and pecan filling baked into an orange shortbread crust.
Less gooey than a pecan pie, a pecan tart is easy to make and is just as at home on your Thanksgiving table as it is at your coffee break.
If you are a shortbread fan, you may also like my chocolate chocolate chip shortbread, and if you’re here for tarts, another favorite is this apple chai cheesecake tart.
For ease of browsing, you can find all my pie and tart recipes in one place. Thanks so much for visiting!
Why Is This Pecan Tart Better Than Pecan Pie?
I will tell you:
- 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!
- The entire thing is held in a crumbly, orange-scented sable crust. There’s just something about that combination of orange-pecan-coffee that just seems so right.
How To Make This Tart
In a nutshell (ha!), all you have to do is:
- make the crust
- blind bake the crust
- mix together the filling
- pour it into the crust
- bake until done
Now, in more detail, let’s go over the ingredients and method for making this guy. The full printable recipe is down below at the end of the post.
- Butter: Used in both the crust and the filling, butter keeps the pastry tender and crumbly and carries flavor in the filling. You may substitute your favorite plant butter in stick form if you’d rather.
- Sugar: Adds some sweetness and tenderness to the crust, and it assists in browning
- Egg: You’ll find egg in both the filling and the crust. In the crust, it’s there to add some richness, protein to help the crust hold together nicely, and to assist in browning. In the filling, it’s there primarily to help dissolve the brown sugar so the tart isn’t gritty and to bind the filling
- Orange: Orange zest lends the crust a lovely orange flavor. If you don’t want to zest an orange for this recipe, or you don’t have any fresh oranges, you can substitute 3-4 drops of orange oil or about 1/4 teaspoon of orange extract.
- Kosher salt: In both the crust and the filling, salt brings out flavor, especially in the toasted nuts
- All-purpose flour: Makes up the bulk of the crust. AP is what you want–no substitutions, although I have no strong feelings on brands for this one. Use the all-purpose flour you own.
- Pecans: I like to use halves so folks can see the shape and start to anticipate the flavor. Halves are more expensive, so you can also use pieces underneath and place halves decoratively on top if you’d rather
- Brown sugar: Adds sweetness to the filling. You may substitute coconut sugar here, or go with regular granulated. I like the undertone of molasses in brown sugar, so that’s what I use. Dark brown or light brown–either will work. For a little different flavor, replace 1/2 cup of brown sugar with real maple syrup or honey.
- Instant coffee: No need to invest in expensive espresso powder, but do get a good brand of instant coffee. I like Nescafe Classico for its well-rounded coffee flavor
- Coffee liqueur: Amps up the coffee a bit. No need for a fancy name brand since it’s mainly the alcohol we want to unlock some alcohol-soluble flavors
First, make the crust:
- Mix together dough ingredients.
- Roll between sheets of parchment.
- Chill for 30 minutes or so then fit into tart pan.
- Freeze for an hour.
- Blind bake the crust.
Then, make the filling:
- Toast the nuts.
- Mix all the filling ingredients together.
- Spread into cooled tart shell.
Last, bake that guy up:
- Bake. You may need to tent some foil loosely over the tart during the last few minutes to prevent overbrowning.
- Cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Tips for Success
Blind baking sounds a little intimidating, but it is pretty easy. One of the easiest tools I’ve found for blind baking is extra large coffee filters–like the “industrial-sized” ones you can get for commmercial coffee makers.
Just place a large coffee filter into your unbaked crust, fill it to the top of the crust with beans–chickpeas are my favorite, and I use the same ones over and over again–and then bake until the top and sides are set.
Remove the filter with the beans and continue baking until the bottom crust is a lovely pale golden-brown.
If you like a less-sweet filling, reduce the sugar to 1 or 1 1/4 cups.
As long as it’s well-wrapped, you can freeze your blind-baked crust for up to a month. That way, when it’s baking day, all you need do is fill the shell and bake.
If you have questions about this post or recipe, don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can leave a comment on the post and I will get back to you within about 24 hours.
If your question is more urgent, please shoot me an email, and I will respond within 4 hours, unless I’m asleep.
A Note About Measurements
NOTE: Most of my recipes are written by weight and not volume, even the liquids.
Even though I try to provide you with volume measurements as well, I encourage you to buy a kitchen scale for ease of measuring, accuracy, and consistency.
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For the Sable
- 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) 🙂
For the Filling
- 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
For the Sable
- 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.
For the Filling
- 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.
To Finish and Bake
- 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!
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Nutrition InformationYield 10 Serving Size 1/10 tart
Amount Per Serving Calories 496Total Fat 27.4gSaturated Fat 13.3gCholesterol 89mgSodium 336mgCarbohydrates 60gFiber 1.6gSugar 39.8gProtein 5g
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