I subscribe to many food magazines. Perhaps I should also say "too many," as I seem to always be backlogged. This does not speak at all to my interest in the subject matter. It is simply the result of me falling asleep midway through articles, bedtime being my only opportunity to read these days. I do not let myself skip ahead, but read the issues in order, cover to cover. However, when the Thanksgiving issues start hitting my mailbox, all bets are off. I love Thanksgiving. And I mean LOVE. It is by far my favorite holiday and has always been a special event for my rather large family (30-40 people at the feast are the norm). So, when the November 2014 issue of Bon Appetit arrived last week, I dove in and headed straight to the article on desserts"You Don't Need a Pumpkin Pie on the Table." All bets are off, remember?

While I suppose not everyone needs a pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, frankly, I do. But I digress. I was intrigued to discover what else I might want to make for the upcoming festivities and oh boy did I ever find something. To be accurate, I found a few things, but one dessert actually made my pulse quicken. No exaggeration. The recipe for the chocolate-caramel pecan tart not only sounded delicious and looked amazing, but I instantly wondered if I could replace some of the ingredients with Cara-Sel. I decided I had to find out as soon as possible and got to work on it the very next day. Thankfully we were having guinea pigs, er, I mean company, over for dinner two days later.

I followed the recipe for the basic tart dough almost to the letter. I simply used whole wheat pastry flour instead of all-purpose flour. I then estimated that the caramel ingredients in the recipe (sugar, light corn syrup, heavy cream, salt, and butter) could be replaced by a 12oz jar of Cara-Sel (about a cup and a half). Long story short: yup, it works. It was beautiful, incredibly delicious, and made even easier by having the caramel already made. Our dinner party agreed: it was definitely a winner. Woo hoo!

Chocolate-Caramel Pecan Tart 

*adapted from Alison Roman/Nov '14 Bon Appetit

  • pastry crust, fully baked in a 10" diameter tart pan with removable bottom*
  • 2 cups pecans
  • 1 ½ cups/one 12oz jar of Cara-Sel
  • 2oz bittersweet chocolate (I may try a 50/50 ratio with unsweetened chocolate next time)
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon (optional; I used it) 
  • flaky sea salt
  • unsweetened whipped cream, for serving (optional)
  1. Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Toast pecans on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing occasionally, until fragrant and darkened, 10-15 minutes (you want them well toasted). Let cool, then coarsely chop.
  2. Place the caramel in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the chocolate (and bourbon, if using). Stir until the chocolate is melted; stir in the toasted pecans. 
  3. Scrape the filling into the crust; sprinkle with sea salt.
  4. Let sit at room temperature at least one hour before slicing. 

We served our tart with unsweetened whipped cream which was a great foil to the sweetness of the dessert. The sprinkle of salt is key; do not skip it!

The tart can be made up to three days ahead. Store tightly wrapped at room temperature.

*You could probably get away with using a pie pan and simply serving smaller slivers.