I don't believe in guilty pleasures, I believe you should be able to like what you like ~ Dave Grohl
Bookshops are selling out of it. Comedians are lampooning it. It even made it on to our national news.
Everyone seems to be talking about Fifty Shades of Grey.
I'm a wee bit hesitant to wade into the Fifty Shades frenzy but it's such a cultural phenomenon that it's pretty hard to ignore. AND I'm dying to know what you lovely readers think...
Now I'm no book snob, I mean, what's not to love about fun trashy quick reads, right ladies? I'll happily own up to being one of the legions of Twilight, Sookie Stackhouse, and Jamie Fraser fans but with Fifty Shades....me not so likey. I don't even know if I enjoyed reading the books. Not because I was put off by the smexy factor (although some of it was cringe) but it was more that books just weren't that great a read. They weren't terribly romantic at all: Christian was a bully, Ana, a push-over, there wasn't a heck of a lot of plot, and the whole thing just dragged ooooooon. Anyhoo, have you dipped into the Fifty Shades books? What did you think? Am I being too harsh?
On a semi related note, this recipe for Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Tarts is so adaptable, I like to think of it as Fifty Shades of Pecan Pie: dark, sinful, and easy to whip up.
And kinda like how Fifty Shades was based on Twilight, this is actually an adaptation of Jo Seagar's fabulous Baby Pecan Pies. It's a terrific recipe, reliable and delicious, and you can change it up with different nuts and dried fruit (like in these walnut and apricot caramel tarts), or make them into bigger muffin sized tarts, or even a full sized pie. So definitely have fun with flavour combinations and don't get tied down by conventional pairings.
In this reincarnation, I've added cocoa to the pastry, dark chocolate to the filling and a good slug of Jim Beam to make them extra decadent.
I love this pastry: it's buttery and flakey and just melts in your mouth. It's really forgiving and so easy to make in the food processor. Plus you don't even need to blind bake! The time consuming part though, is pressing out each pastry cup into the mini muffin tins. Getting the pastry thin enough to be lovely and delicate but making sure you don't have holes for the filling to seep through is a bit of a wrist-aching mission. So park yourself in front of the TV for that part - a perfect excuse to watch the Olympics methinks!
It looks like a lot of bourbon in the recipe but I loved the flavour it gave the caramel filling; a smokey fruitiness that wasn't too boozy but balanced out the sweetness, but if you're worried about the booze factor, start with a little and add to your taste.
These are amazing while still warm and gooey, and stay good for several days so perfect for an afternoon tea party to say goodbye to good friends (miss you guys already LEB & ATM!!), or for a fundraising bake sales, or for book club perhaps.
Baby Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pies
makes 32 mini muffin sized pies (or 17 larger tarts *see below for instructions)
*****EDIT: Recipe Updated 23 January 2013 - just made these again and for some reason this time got waaaaaay too much filling so have have adjusted the quantities***
1 3/4 cups flour (249g)
1/4 cup cocoa (33g)
1 cup icing sugar (132g)
1. Put all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse to mix until the pastry starts to clump around the blade.
2. Remove the dough from mixer and knead into log shape. Divide the log in half, then each half in to halves and halves again to get 16 even balls of dough per half. Roll each ball to get a nice sphere.
3. Spray two 24 cup non-stick mini muffin tins with non stick baking spray. Press each ball of dough into each cup to get a thin layer with a little lip over the top of the cup. Make sure they are pretty thin or you'll get a bit too much pastry and not enough filling per pie.
4. Chill the pastry cups in fridge for at least 30 mins.
Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Filling
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (semi sweet)
1/2 cup pecans (~70g) (Hazelnuts work really well too)
4 - 5 Tbsp bourbon, depending on your taste (I used Jim Beam and I like them boozy!)
1 cup brown sugar, tightly packed (~220g)
1 tsp vanilla
big pinch of salt
big pinch of salt
1. Preheat the oven to 180oC (or 160oC fan bake). Count out enough pecan halves to top all the tarts. Chop the rest of the pecans up. Divide the chocolate chips evenly into chilled pastry cups. Then divide up the chopped pecan bits on top of the chocolate.
2. Melt the butter in a pyrex measuring jug then add the egg, vanilla, bourbon, salt, and brown sugar to the melted butter and whisk until it forms a smooth caramel sauce.
3. Pour the caramel sauce slowly into each case (around 1 teaspoon per case), be careful not to overfill the cases or they will over flow! Place a pecan half on top of each cup.
4. Bake at 180oC for 20-25 mins (or 160oC on fan bake for around 20 minutes) until the filling has set. Leave the tarts to cool in tins completely before turning out. To release each tart, twist the tops gently to loosen and put on a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for around 3-4 days.
*For the slightly larger tarts (normal muffin tin sized):
- I ended up needing 2 cups of pecans to fill the pastry cases, with some extra to decorate the tops with.
- Line the muffin tins with a square of baking paper as well as spraying with baking spray to help get the tarts out easier.
- The larger tarts take 35-40 minutes at 180oC and I let them cool till pretty much cold in the tins before turning out.
- I drizzled dark chocolate over the top of the tarts to make them look extra spesh.