Thanks to the existence of the mighty Mississippi River, there are loads of beautiful bayous right across the state of Louisiana (these are basically streams or creeks, but they’re not like any streams or creeks I’ve seen in Britain). Louisiana bayous have a sort of wild, swampy charm about them that I love. Wild pecan trees grow along the banks, so there’s no shortage of this delicious nut. Another ingredient. Louisiana has in abundance is molasses, thanks to the fields and fields of sugar cane. I’ve used both these ingredients to make this beautiful, and quintessentially Southern, dessert. Molasses can be found in health food shops and all good supermarkets – it’s worth getting your hands on some if you can.
Start by making the pastry, adding the optional vanilla seeds and orange zest from the list of ingredients.
Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Take half your pecans and put them inside a clean tea towel or in a sandwich bag. Use a rolling pin to bash them up finely.
After the pastry has had 30 minutes in the fridge, continue through the method of the sweet pastry recipe until baked blind.
To make the filling, use a whisk to mix the eggs, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Add your finely bashed pecans and mix again with a spoon until completely blended and smooth. Add the molasses, melted butter and bourbon, mix well, then fold in your reserved whole pecans. Pour this mixture into the pastry case.
Put the tart into the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the filling starts setting at the sides.
Remove and leave to cool in its tin for an hour (if you can wait that long), to really help it set, before serving. I think a slice of slightly warm pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream is absolute heaven.