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Growing up in Texas where it’s common to have a pecan tree or two in your yard, there are no Thanksgiving desserts more quintessential to me than those featuring pecans—specifically pecan pie and German chocolate cake.
When I was younger, I found pecan pie unappealing because of how it looked. But boy oh boy was I disappointed to find out that I’d been missing out on a decade or two of deliciousness after I finally tasted a piece.
My mom always uses the pecan pie recipe printed on the Karo syrup bottle.
As far as I’m concerned, it’s a perfect recipe, and I’m not sure why there are so many pecan pie recipes out there in the world—unless you want to make a healthier version. I also don’t understand why people add chocolate to pecan pie, as I think it distracts from the purity of the dessert and the taste of the pecans.
But it’s true that traditional pecan pie made with corn syrup can be cloyingly sweet. The older I’ve gotten, the less I am able to handle that amount of sugar, so I’ve been researching alternatives.
What I love about pecan pie is that it looks so elegant, yet it’s ridiculously easy to make.
For these bourbon pecan tarts I opted for a combination of maple syrup and brown sugar, but you could also use coconut sugar to make it even healthier.
You can also make this recipe vegan by using vegan butter or coconut oil in place of the butter, your plant milk of choice, and flax eggs.
I made the recipe into several 4-inch tarts—they’re cute and good for portion control—but it could also work as one 9-inch tart.
So without further ado, here’s the recipe.
Bourbon Pecan Tarts Recipe
Makes six 4-inch tarts or one 9-inch tart
9-inch pie crust of your choice
2 eggs (or 2 flax eggs)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
111 g (3/4 cup) brown sugar (or coconut sugar)
170 g (1/2 cup) pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon bourbon
200 g (2 cups) pecans
To make vegan:
2 tablespoons ground flax seeds + 4 tablespoons water mixed together, (this makes your flax ‘egg’). Let rest for 5 minutes to thicken. Add to recipes in place of eggs (as original recipe is written).
2 tablespoons vegan butter or coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons plant milk
Divide dough into 6 portions. Roll each portion into a 5-in. circle; transfer to 6 ungreased 4-in. tart pans with removable bottoms. Trim crust even with edges. Put tart pans in freezer for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 400°F.
Meanwhile, mix together all of the filling ingredients except for the pecans. Just throw everything together in a large mixing bowl and whisk well. (After I mix the filling, I like to put it in a large measuring cup to make it easier to pour in the tart pans later).
Take tart pans out of the freezer and place them on a large cookie sheet. Poke holes in the bottom of the crusts. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the crusts start to brown a little. Remove from oven and let cool. Lower oven temperature to 350°F.
Once the tart crusts are cooled, scatter pecans in each tart pan. Pour the prepared filling in each crust.
Place the cookie sheet in the center rack of the oven and bake the tarts for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.