Is it a candy bar?

A pie?

A decadent chocolate tart?

Who cares! Whip this chewy, chocolaty, sinful sweet up today and enjoy it with a glass of champagne tonight, as you toast out 2014 and ring in 2015.

This dessert is rich — a tiny square will satisfy even the sweetest tooth — so it’s perfect for a raucous New Year’s Eve party.

But it gets better with age. So if it’s only you and a couple others tonight; well, you’ll have a special treat for your New Year’s breakfast.

Think of it as a splurge that keeps giving!

***

We just returned from our 2,000-plus-mile car trip to the Midwest, and I’m happy to report we avoided fast food.

But chains? Not so much.

There was a TGIFridays in West Virginia. A Panera Bread in St. Louis. A Subway outside of Evansville, Ind., which may, indeed, qualify as fast food. (The family says no since sandwiches are assembled to order, but I’m dubious.)

The best stop, though, was the Century Inn off of I-79 in Sutton, W.Va. There, we ate truly made-to-order sandwiches and big, hot bowls of cabbage and ham soup. It waylaid us for over an hour, but we got to see country beyond the interstate and enjoy some local fare.

Just what we needed before getting the phone call that our dog had an accident at the boarder:

dog

 I need something chocolate to recover …

Chocolate Pecan Tart (Suzanne Goin)

You probably have most of the ingredients for this dessert in your pantry already, making it an easy tart to assemble last minute.

For crust:

  • 1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream (plus more as needed)

For filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1 1/2 cups pecan halves
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped

For the crust: Whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Using a pastry blender or your hands, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until you have pea-sized clumps.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and 2 tablespoons of the heavy cream. Add to the dry ingredients and toss together until you have a ball of dough, adding 1 to 2 more teaspoons of cream if necessary.

Flatten the dough into a disk. Wrap it in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator as you make the filling.

For the filling: Place the pecan pieces in a dry skillet and heat them over a low heat to toast, stirring them frequently. When the pecans are just fragrant, remove them from the heat.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. When it’s melted, stir in the vanilla.

In a large bowl, whisk the sugar, both corn syrups and the salt together. Add the butter-vanilla mixture, then the eggs, stirring well.

Roll out the crust dough on a floured surface and fit it into the bottom and up the sides of an 11-inch round or square tart pan with removable bottom.

Scatter the pecan pieces along the bottom of the tart pan. Place the chopped chocolate on top of the pecan pieces. Lay the pecan halves on top of the chocolate, making concentric circles or following the contours of the square pan.

Carefully pour the filling over the pecans and chocolate, making sure not to over fill. (You may not use all of the filling.)

Place the pan on top of a baking sheet with sides. Place in the oven, and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the center is just set.

Remove from the oven. Cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes before unmolding.

Serve as is, with ice cream, or with whipped cream.

Happy New Year!

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