Salt Caramel Pecan Pies

Salt Caramel Pecan Pies

Salt Caramel Pecan Pie
These are great little tarts made as tiny individual pies, filled with caramel and topped with toffee threads.  If you prefer, bake in a single large pie dish.
Don't be too alarmed by the sweet ingredients, the salt seems to counteract it well.  The butter.... well yes, this is not exactly a diet-friendly food...

For the filling:
1 can sweetened condensed milk
½ cup maple syrup
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons vanilla liqueur
½ teaspoon flaky salt – Maldon rock salt flakes for example

For the Pastry:
½ ground almonds
1 ¼ cups of plain flour
½ cup rice flour
¼ cup caster sugar
135 grams butter, chilled and cubed
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
pinch of salt

For the Pecan topping:
200 grams  pecans
¼ teaspoon salt
Pinch each of nutmeg, cloves and ginger
2 tablespoons of maple syrup
1 tablespoon butter

Pre-heat oven to 180°C

Make the pecan topping first, to allow it to cool before it tops the little tarts.
Place the pecans on a baking sheet, sprinkle over the spices and salt and maple syrup.  Dot with the butter and bake in a hot oven for 5-8 minutes or until the pecans are just starting to colour.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Salt Caramel PiesFor the Pastry:
Sift flours, ground almonds and salt together in a large bowl, add sugar.  Rub butter and vanilla into the flour mix, kneading until a soft dough forms.  Knead briefly and allow dough to rest for 30 minutes in the fridge.
Form dough into walnut-sized balls, shape into pastry moulds or mini cake pans.
Bake at 180°C until just golden and remove to cool while you make the filling.

For the Filling:
In a small saucepan, pour in the can of condensed milk with the butter, vanilla and maple syrup.  Warm through and bring the mixture to the boil then remove from the heat.
Stir in the liqueur and salt then while the mix is still warm pour into the pre-baked pastry moulds.
Place a few pecans on each tart and return them to the oven for about 5 minutes – the edges of the caramel should just be starting to brown.

While the tarts are cooling, warm 2 tablespoons of sugar in a dry pan until it turns to dark golden toffee, thick and shiny.  When the tarts are almost cool, use 2 forks to spin the toffee around the tops of the tarts in long threads.

Allow to cool completely before serving.