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Chocolate pecan caramel shortbread

Life is better with chocolate, and chocolate is better with caramel. This turtle shortbread is an over-the-top dessert worth some extra effort. Share it with others and it will go fast!

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6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

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The Pastry Chef’s Baking

Carol Ramos trained to be a pastry chef at the Culinary Institute of America and has her certification in baking and pastry arts, but she has never baked professionally. Baking is just something she loves to do. Her blog chronicles her baking odyssey as she tests out different recipes. Her goals are to share her love of baking and convert people into becoming bakers, one dessert at a time.

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3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 large egg

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pecan filling

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 cup pecan halves

2 tablespoons heavy cream

Chocolate topping

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Garnish

1 ounce white chocolate, coarsely chopped

1. Make the shortbread crust: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

2. Into a medium bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder

3. In a medium bowl, using a hand-held electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix at low speed until combined. While continuing to mix at low speed, add the flour mixture in three batches, mixing just until the dough starts to come together.

4. Scrape the dough into a 9-1/2-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Using your fingertips, press the dough evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Set the crust aside. Alternatively, you can choose to parbake for 15-20 minutes or until crust is very lightly golden brown before you add the filling.

5. Make the pecan filling: In a small saucepan, place the butter, honey, sugar, and brown sugar. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil. Continue to boil the mixture for 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the pecan halves. Stir in the cream. Pour the pecan mixture into the prepared crust and bake for 30 minutes (15-20 minutes if you've parbaked the crust first). Cool the tart on a wire rack for hour.

6. Make the chocolate topping: In a small saucepan, combine the cream and sugar. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the chocolate chips. Whisk the mixture until smooth. Set aside 1/3 cup of the topping in the refrigerator for garnish.

7. Garnish the shortbread: Pour the warm chocolate topping over the top of the tart and spread it evenly with a small metal cake spatula.

8. Place the tart uncovered in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to set the chocolate. Melt the white chocolate.

9. Fill a small parchment cone with the melted chocolate. Pipe the chocolate in fine lines across the top of the tart in a crisscross pattern.

10. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a medium star tip (such as Ateco #5) with the reserved chocolate topping. Pipe 8 rosettes around the edge of the tart. Top each rosette with a pecan half.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of food bloggers. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by The Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own and they are responsible for the content of their blogs and their recipes. All readers are free to make ingredient substitutions to satisfy their dietary preferences, including not using wine (or substituting cooking wine) when a recipe calls for it. To contact us about a blogger, click here.

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