a tough nut to crack



by Patti Wilburn
My hard little shell
hides the tender meat inside
To the world a tough nut to crack
But on the inside, delicate-fragile
Take care when getting to the core
Crack my shell too forcefully
All the goodness will be crushed
Be gentle, peel the outer layer slowly
A treasure you will find

Pecan Pie

Tradition holds that the French invented pecan pie soon after settling in New Orleans, after being introduced to the nut by Native Americans. Attempts to trace the dish’s origin, however, have not found any recipes dated earlier than 1897, and well-known cookbooks such as Fannie Farmer and The Joy of Cooking did not include it before 1940.

The makers of Karo syrup popularized the dish and many of its recipes. Karo Syrup’s own website contends that the dish was a 1930s “discovery” of a “new use for corn syrup” by a corporate sales executive’s wife.

Well there you have it. Can not blame this one on the French. During my tenure in the US of A, a fell in love with this nut, practically as soon as I had tasted it for the first time. For a freshly baked Pastry Cook from Central Europe, who has never even heard of it …. it was love at first bite. And what intrigued me most, was that there where not many ways of using this ingredient. There was Pecan Pie, and that was it. A few uses in the kitchen here and a flavor there, … and it was expensive …..

So, the other day I found a bag of Pecans in the supermarket, and I had to have it. Best of all, it was the last bag on the shelf … I had to have it ….. even at that PRICE ….

And this is what became of it:

 Pecan Tart

Ingredients for Crust:

50             g                icing sugar
100          g                salted butter at room temperature
3                pc             egg yolk
zest of 1 lemon
150           g                flour
a few drops vanilla essence


Ingredients for Filling:

195           g dark brown sugar
50             g                date molasses
75             g                honey
15             g                maple syrup
45             g                butter
zest of 1 orange
zest of 1 lemon
4                pc             eggs
450           g                shelled pecan nuts
150           g                good cooking chocolate



        • Pre-heat the oven to 190 C
        • Butter a 22 cm pie form and dust with flour
        • Chop half the pecans and set aside
        • Chop the chocolate and set aside
        • In a mixing bowl combine icing sugar, soft butter, and lemon zest
        • Mix until just combined
        • Add the egg yolk and mix briefly
        • Add the flour and mix slowly until combined
        • Take care not to over mix
        • Place in the refrigerator for half an hour
        • In a sauce pan combine the dark brown sugar, molasses, honey, maple syrup, butter, and zest
        • Bring to a boil
        • Boil for about a minute
        • Remove from the fire
        • In a bowl lightly beat the eggs
        • With a whisk mix the eggs into the sugar mixture
        • Do not stop stirring until fully incorporated
        • Roll the sugar dough just big enough to fit the pie mold
        • Spread the chopped chocolate and chopped pecans onto the pie crust
        • Pour the sugar mixture over it and make sure it is distributed evenly
        • The remaining pecans you set on top in decorative manner
        • Set in the oven at the middle grill and cook for about 35 min, or until center of tart feel spongy
        • Let cool in the mold for about half hour
        • Remove from mold and set onto serving platter
        • Serve with vanilla ice cream, or just as it is




Published by ChefThomas

… born in Upper Austria’s Wels, I have done most of my growing up in Vienna. Only by sheer accident did I fall into the trade of Pâtissier. After a short apprentice ship at a Viennese Bakery, I was accepted for apprentice ship, at "K.u.K. Hofzuckerbäcker Demel’s Söhne", one of the oldest patisseries in Vienna. Learning the trade from the very basics, as the Emperor two Centuries ago would have expected from a "Pâtissier to the Royal and Imperial Court" (That is what the older Pâtissier still calls himself). I soon took to travel the world. From patisseries in America, to hotels in the Far East, Africa and the Middle East, did I accumulate a wealth of experience, ranging from bakeries to first class restaurants in major hotels to banquets for Presidents, Sultans and Heads of States and other famous, infamous and not so famous people. But the true excitement for me is in the "Viennese Café". Not just as an occupation, but as an institution in it own right.

2 thoughts on “a tough nut to crack

    1. Indeed, pecans are right up there with those delicates in the world of flavors. And versatile too. It is a true master who can create around this soft and fragile nut ….


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