Texas has a robust pecan industry and, not surprisingly, pecan pie is very popular there. Not far from my hometown is the famous Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana, Texas. They have been using Texas pecans since 1896 in their fruitcakes, pecan cakes and pecan pies that ship all over the world. When I was growing up there, pecan trees, which are native to Texas, were in my front yard. I still remember the little old man coming over and using a “pecan picker upper” to harvest some from under our trees. A few days later he would show up at our doorstep with a homemade pecan pie just for us! It was his way of saying thanks and the gesture was much appreciated.
Unfortunately, celiac disease or gluten intolerance means having to avoid gluten in a pecan pie even if it comes from a famous bakery, a nice neighbor or a well-meaning host at a party. If you want a standard pecan pie there are about a zillion recipes in cookbooks and online. But almost every one of them will have a wheat flour crust or, minimally, will be chock full of sugar, sugar and more sugar. ”Low carb” recipes often have tons of artificial ingredients that make me think “why bother?” This recipe is different. It is not only gluten-free but also takes into account my desire to stay as close to paleo as possible. So gone is the corn syrup, brown sugar and processed white sugar. The filling is sweetened only by dates, applesauce, pure maple syrup and a little molasses. Oh and there’s a bit of rum too. But that’s optional. Sort of.
- 3/4 cup coconut flour
- 1/2 cup toasted pecan halves
- 3 large eggs
- 8 tablespoons chilled pastured butter or coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons coconut sugar (coconut crystals)
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 10 Medjool dates, pitted (or enough dates to make 2/3 cup purée)
- 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
- 4 eggs
- 6 tablespoons pastured butter or virgin coconut oil (room temperature)
- 2 tablespoons dark molasses
- 1 tablespoon dark rum (optional)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup plus 2/3 cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped
- 1/3 cup toasted pecan halves (for topping) – about 23 pieces
- Toast the pecan halves (total of 2 1/2 cups) on a sheet pan in a 350 degree oven for about 7 minutes. Separate.
- Chop 1 cup plus 2/3 cup of pecans roughly in the food processor. Remove chopped pecans.
- Combine the coconut flour, 1/2 cup pecan halves, fat (either pastured butter or virgin coconut oil), coconut sugar and salt in food processor and pulse until combined and pecans are finely chopped.
- Add the eggs and pulse until a dough is formed.
- Spread the dough evenly into the bottom and sides of a 9 1/2 inch tart pan.
- Place the pitted dates in the food processor with the applesauce and maple syrup. Process until dates are completely puréed and you have a smooth mixture.
- To the bowl of a stand mixer add the date purée, eggs, fat of choice (butter or coconut oil), molasses, rum, vanilla and salt and mix on medium speed until well-combined.
- Place the chopped pecans into the bottom of the prepared tart shell.
- Pour the filling into the shell.
- Decorate the top with the remaining 1/3 cup of pecan halves.
- Place the tart onto a sheet pan and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for approximately 45-50 minutes. Check the tart at 30-35 minutes.
- Cool on a wire rack.
- Serve the paleo pecan tart to anyone who is not allergic to pecans, like my boys, who were very sad and angry when I made it.
Additional Notes and Ramblings on the Paleo Pecan Pie / Tart Recipe
- I roughly followed my crust recipe for the Paleo Coconut Cream Pie replacing the coconut flakes with pecans.
- The crust is not very sweet but with the sweet filling there is a nice balance.
- I used more fat this time because coconut flour has a tendency to be dry and chalky.
- You can probably use a regular pie pan for this recipe making it a paleo pecan pie instead of a paleo pecan tart. But I liked using the tart pan because the crust is heavy-duty and makes a nice, firm shell for the gooey contents of the pie filling.
- The molasses is an important ingredient. Even though the dates impart a nice caramel flavor, the molasses gave the paleo pecan tart that distinct pecan pie flavor.
- And yes, I realize cavemen did not have rum so there’s no need to remind me.
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