Of all the pecan tart recipes I've tried, this is definitely the best. Jon Bentham, a very talented chef who has worked with me on and off over the years, gave me the recipe. I don't know where he acquired it, but it must have been a distant ancestor who settled in the Carolinas, as this recipe is much admired by Americans, and has been published in US magazine Bon Appétit.
When you serve it, cut a thinnish wedge, as it's so rich, and accompany it with a ball of Bourbon or coffee ice cream. Plain cream is fine, too.
230g plain flour
a pinch of salt
30g caster sugar
155g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
1 egg yolk, size 2, mixed with 1tbsp icy water
280g dark muscovado sugar
230g unsalted butter
170g maple syrup
170g golden syrup
5 eggs, size 2
1tsp vanilla extract
500g pecan nuts, roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 400°F/205°C/gas mark 6; you will need a 251/2cm loose-based deep flan tin or spring-form tin.
Sift the flour, salt and sugar into the food-processor, add the butter and process until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. With the machine running, add the egg and water mixture through the feed tube. Run the machine until the dough comes together in a ball. It should be soft but not sticky. If this hasn't happened after a minute and there are dry crumbs, add more water, 1tsp at a time. Wrap and chill for 15 minutes.
On a floured work surface, roll out the dough to a circle about 33cm in diameter and line the tin. Prick the bottom of the pastry case all over with a fork, then chill for 10 minutes.
Bake the pastry case for about 20 minutes or until it is very lightly brown, then leave to cool while making the filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F/ 150°C/gas mark 2.
Put the sugar, butter and syrups into a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Cook over a moderate heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking, then remove from the heat and set to one side.
Put the eggs into a large bowl and beat well, then stir in the vanilla extract, the raisins and the nuts. When thoroughly blended, add the syrup mixture and mix well.
Pour the filling into the baked pastry case and bake for 1 hour or until the filling is fairly firm to the touch. Serve either warm or cold.