On Making a Major Mess Instead of Pretty Pecan Tart

Putting a pecan pie filling into a tart shell was a “merry” big mistake

Drawing: Jupiter Images

I’ve often written about my proclivity for combining and changing recipes. They usually turn out all right. Not so with my planned Christmas Eve dessert, a pecan tart that became a pecan disaster — and this time I had followed the recipe meticulously. That’ll teach me! Only difference (and it turned out to be major one) was that I used a fluted tart shell with a removable bottom instead of a pie plate, and that was a major mistake. I have shared recipe successes here, so now comes the sequence of events that resulted in failure:

We had a bag of shelled pecans, purchased for a pie the my husband had talked about making. We also had an unopened bottle of dark corn syrup but no light corn syrup at all. When I took back the Christmas Eve dessert making, I was naturally going to make pecan something — and the something I wanted to make was a tart, not a pie. I figured I’d just make a tart shell and fill it with a pie filling.

Problem was, I could only find recipes using light syrup, so  I resorted to the one on the back of the dark ssyrup bottle. I followed it to the letter, made the recommended altitude adjustments, poured it carefully into the tart shell and put it in the oven. Then, sniff, sniff, what’s burning? Turned out that the filling — the goopy, sweet, syrupy filling was oozing over the tart shell, sometimes under the shell and sometimes over the rim and directly onto the bottom of the oven. Glad it’s self-cleaning.

Ready for the oven and looking good.

I took it out and set it on a rack to cool. The top soon hardened into toffee. About two-thirds of the tart looked OK, with the rest a mess. I thought I might be able to cut into squares or diamonds, but they crumbled. In the end, I cut the remainder of the original into thin wedges, and I hustled to make some emergency sugar cookies to fill in  –and also wonderful guests brought cream puffs and biscotti.

Avert your eyes if you don’t want to look at a painful sight. The lower part of this picture shows where the gooey tart filling leaked under the crust and over the edge, and then disintegrated completely when I tried to lift the tart out of the fluted pan. If I didn’t have a self-cleaning oven, I’d still be working on it.

For the record, I did Google “pecan pie, troubleshooting” — finding many sites diagnosing various things that could go wrong with pecan tarts, but nothing to remedy my mess at that late stage and all too late to solve my pecan tart dilemma.

2 thoughts on “On Making a Major Mess Instead of Pretty Pecan Tart”

  1. It turned out OK in the end — but I did spare everyone the sight of the tormented side of the tart. It should be a lesson to me though. You know how “they” always says that you should try every recipe on your or your nearest and dearest before making it for company? I’ve always ignored this advice, but I AM glad that I attempted the pecan tart on the 23rd to serve on the evening of the 24th, so that I had a day to put a Plan B into effect.

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