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Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Tart

We’re combining two of the most sacred national holidays Pecan Torte Day and Chocolate Pecan Pie Day into one, with a little booze. And in preparation for the upcoming 5th Annual San Francisco Craft Spirits Carnival, where we’ll be serving up these spirited treats, we’re returning to Jason’s springtime adventure in mass-produced “Bulleit Bites” (bourbon pecan mini-pies) with these boozy beauties. Bulleit Bourbon inspires this chocolate and whiskey-spiked variation of a Southern favorite, pecan pie.

In keeping with the whiskey mash, the pastry includes a mix of corn, rye, and barley flours, as well as a little all-purpose flour. A little adjustment was needed to create the larger pictured here instead of the small bite-sized ones we’ll be making for the carnival crowd.

The crust gets pre-baked with pie weights to insure it is flakey and fully baked. The raw pecans and chocolate are then added with just a little coating of the bourbon caramel. More caramel is added every five minutes of baking to assure that not only are these the most alcoholic pecan pies you’ll ever taste, but that the nuts and chocolate mix together to create a chewy and crunchy concoction.

The squeeze bottle in the pictures was unnecessary for the two tarts. The bourbon, brown sugar, and salt can easily be mixed in a small bowl. The resulting flavors are more complex and nutty. And adding the caramel base in drizzles throughout the baking process ensures the final tart isn’t a parched, dried out mess.

If you think the recipe is intimidating or if you just prefer to eat these tarts instead of baking them yourselves, you’re in luck. In the next couple of months we’ll be fine tuning our next culinary venture, Cheeky Bakery (website is currently under construction) right out of our small one-assed kitchen. We’ll be taking orders for these bites and a few other baked items, so stay tuned!

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Chocolate Pecan Bulleit Tarts
Makes two small tarts with a little extra dough

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons corn flour
1/2 tablespoon rye flour
1/2 tablespoon barley flour
3/4 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 stick cold unsalted butter, grated and frozen
1/2 teaspoon bourbon whiskey
1/4 teaspooon vanilla
2 tablespoons ice water, plus more as needed

Mix flours, brown sugar, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Add grated frozen butter to the bowl along with the flours and sprinkle bourbon and vanilla over the top. Using one hand and a plastic scraper, mix flour, butter, and water until the dough comes together when squeezing it into a fist. The dough should not be wet.

Place the dough on a sheet of plastic and shape it into a disc. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before continuing. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees while chilling the disc. Cut the disc in half and roll out the disc until it’s 1/8-1/4″ thick. Place the rolled dough over the tart shell and press the dough into the shell, pressing it into the corners and trimming off the top of the dough to make it look uniformed. Prick the bottom of the shell with a fork and place some crumpled parchment paper over the top of the shell, then add pie weights (or beans) to the shell. Freeze for ten minutes before baking.

Take the shell out of the freezer and place it into the oven with the pie weights still covering the bottom. Bake for 7 minutes, then take off the pie weights and bake for another 3 minutes. Remove the crusts from the oven.

Chocolate Pecan Filling
1/2 cup chopped raw pecans
1.75 ounces good quality dark chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup Bulleit Bourbon
1 1/2 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
pinch of kosher salt

Combine pecan and chocolate in medium bowl, set aside. Combine the brown sugar, bourbon, heavy cream, and salt into a small bowl, whisk until there are no lumps.

Add two tablespoons of the caramel to the chocolate and pecans, and mix. Divide the chocolate and pecans into the prebaked shells. Place the shells back in the oven and bake for five minutes. Remove the pies from the oven and drizzle one tablespoon of the caramel over each tart. Place back in the oven and bake another five minutes. Continue adding the caramel every five minutes during baking until all the caramel is in the tarts.

Once completely baked, remove from the oven and allow to rest in the tart pan for at least 15 minutes before removing. Allow to cool completely, about an hour, before serving.

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Peanut Butter

We eat peanut butter all the time, topped with a variety of sweeteners. Sliced banana is cool, smooth and sweet – a perfect counterpoint to the rugged texture of toast and peanuts. A drizzle of honey makes for a rich peanut butter bite, thick and super sweet. Like most people, we love fruit jams and jellies with our peanut butter. American’s love to pair it with strawberry jam. What’s not to love about that pair?

A little over 90% of households keep peanut butter in the pantry. Today, the peanut butter market is robust, pulling in a little more than $1 billion in annual retail sales. As prepared food goes, it’s relatively inexpensive and nutrient dense, packing tons of protein and healthy fats.

There are plenty of options on grocery shelves. Just about everyone knows and likes at least one big national brand. But there are smaller producers selling really great tasting peanut butter, albeit at a much higher price. We’re fans of Santa Cruz Crunchy Organic Dark Roast. But as with so many pantry staples, peanut butter is the sort of thing you can make at home, deliciously and inexpensively.

Creamy or chunky? Depends on your gender and where you live. Those of us on the West Coast tend to prefer the chunky stuff. In general, women favor the creamy stuff. So it should come as no surprise that most of the peanut butter sold in America is smooth and creamy. In our household though, chunky always wins. We’re two gay men afterall. No women to tell us what type of peanut butter to eat!

Creamy peanut butter certainly has its uses in home cooking, but when it comes to the simple pleasure of slathering peanut butter onto a crusty piece of toast, nothing is as satisfying as the crunchy texture of all those little pieces of roasted peanuts.

Though peanuts have a pretty high fat content, making peanut butter requires the addition of fat to help turn ground peanuts into a spreadable butter. Peanut oil is the obvious choice, but you can experiment here as well. We used coconut oil in the peanut butter pictured. Coconut oil keeps it super thick and gives it a slightly sweet, tropical flavor. Using raw peanuts gives you better control over the depth of the roasted flavor in the final product, and allows you to fine tune your own recipe with just a little experimentation. Once prepared, peanut butter should go into the refrigerator to extend its shelf-life.

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Roasted Peanut Butter

2 cups (16 ounces) raw, shelled peanuts
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoons honey
1-2 tablespoons peanut oil or other oil (we used warmed coconut oil)

Heat the oven to 350°F and toast the peanuts on a baking sheet until lightly golden and glossy with oil, about 10 minutes. Place the warm peanuts, salt and honey into the bowl of a food processor. Process for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Place the lid back on and continue to process while slowly drizzling in the oil and process until the mixture is smooth, but not too smooth, 1  to 1 1/2 minutes, or longer if you want ultra smooth peanut butter. Place the peanut butter in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.