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Produce Station's Butternut Pecan Tart

Tart Shell:
1 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
1/3 C. turbinado sugar
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. baking powder
1/2 C. toasted and cooled pecans
8 T. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 T. cold whole milk

Praline topping:
1/2 C. toasted and cooled pecans
1 C. sugar
2 T. water

1 1/2 C. cooked butternut or other winter squash or pumpkin puree
1/4 C. turbinado or light brown sugar (or more if using squash that is not as sweet as others)
1 1/2 t. sugar
3/4 t. ground ginger
1/8 t. ground cloves
1/4 t. cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/8 t. white pepper or just a few grinds of freshly ground pepper
2 t. brandy
3 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 C. half-and-half

This recipe seems long, but is well worth the many steps.

To prepare the tart shell:
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Place the toasted pecans in a food processor and finely chop. Add the flour mixture to the pecans and pulse to mix. Add the butter and pulse until it is the texture of cornmeal. Place the dough mixture back into the bowl and sprinkle with the milk, tossing lightly to moisten evenly. Stir the dough with a fork until it comes together in small lumps. Press the dough into a large thick mound and wrap in plastic wrap.

Chill at least 4 hours.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough into a 12- to 13-inch circle to fit an 11-inch tart pan. Fold in half and place in the pan. Ease gently into the contours of the pan. Prick the bottom with a fork. Cover with plastic wrap and chill or freeze 20-30 minutes.

To prepare the praline topping:
Place the pecans on a parchment-lined baking sheet. In a small, heavy saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Cover and bring to a boil. Leave cover on until the condensation washes down the sides of the pan. Uncover, adjust the heat to medium, and cook, swirling pan occasionally, until the sugar turns amber. Pour the mixture over the pecans. Let cool about an hour. Chop the praline into small pieces and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Line the crust with foil and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake about 20 minutes or until the pastry is set and dry on the bottom. Cool.

To prepare the filling: Preheat the oven to 350F. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the squash puree, sugars, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, salt and brandy. Whisk in the eggs, egg yolk and half-and-half.

Pour into the prebaked shell and bake 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle on the chopped praline pecan topping, avoiding the center of the tart. Continue baking another 20 minutes or until a knife inserted into the filling halfway between the edge and the center of the tart comes out clean.

Serve warm with creme fraiche, marscarpone or heavy whipped cream.

Makes 16 servings.

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