RECIPE: Sweet Onion-Pecan Tarts

My wife calls these kinds of snacks hand-me-rounds, not a bad description. When my son’s pals come over, they disappear (the snacks, that is). The subtle flavor and crunch of the pecans perfectly complement the richly sweet onion topping.

(makes 36 pieces)

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound onions, finely chopped
8 ounces puff pastry, defrosted if frozen (see note below)
2 teaspoons dried thyme
about 1 cup (4 ounces) pecan halves

In a 2-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat two tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, stir well, and reduce heat to low; the onions should cook very slowly without coloring at first. Cook for 45 minutes, or until they’re quite mushy–it will seem as if nothing much is happening except that your kitchen smells increasingly good for the first 30 minutes, and then they’ll begin to brown nicely. As they caramelize, they’ll become fairly sweet.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Roll the dough out into a 12-inch square. Transfer to a lightly oiled baking sheet. Prick the dough thoroughly with a fork (this helps it crisp). Brush the top of the dough lightly with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle the thyme over it. Spread the onions over in a layer. Place the pecan halves in rows about 2 inches apart. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until the surface is a deep golden color. Remove from the oven. Allow it to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Cut into 2-inch squares, between the pecans, and serve.

Note: Pepperidge Farm and Trader Joe’s both make good frozen puff pastry—one sheet will make this recipe. As a rich option, sprinkle a tablespoon of grated Parmesan over before baking.

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