I'm preparing an elaborate 40th birthday dinner for a friend who is crazy about pecans (pecan pie in particular), so I'm looking for a really exceptional pecan-based dessert or a dessert plate that highlights pecans, something you might expect from Keller, Trotter et.al. Not that there's anything wrong with pecan pie, but the rest of the dinner is mostly out of the French Laundry cookbook, so I'm trying to maintain a unified aesthetic.
Does anyone have any suggestions? Cookbooks I might check out? Recipes you wish to pass on?
A couple years ago I worked out a recipe for a pecan tart, in which the components are adapted from a couple of different cookbooks. I don't know if this would be elegant enough for your needs, but it's certainly more elegant than pecan pie. It looks beautiful, slices cleanly, and tastes great. I wrote out the directions in quite a lot of detail and have them as a Word document which I could e-mail to you if you're at all interested.
Buy a bag of candied pecans from a local Trader Joe's and put a bow around it for your friend. It might be gone in one setting.
As for a pecan dessert, maybe make Galleygirl's pear tart and put the candied pecans all over the top of it concentrically. And, then drizzle with a butter pecan syrup.
Also, the word "praline" refers to nut based desserts - use pecans. Maybe google something up there. http://southernfood.about.com/od/dess...
Maybe pecan turtles? (the candy that is caramel, nuts and chocolate
Or a mascarpone tort with pralines?
Or pecan mousse with praline syrup?
How about some sort of pecan-themed tasting plate? You could make mini-pecan tarts (use any pecan pie recipe, but replace the pie crust with a tart dough, bake in mini-tart pans) or pecan diamonds (Flo Braker's Sweet Miniatures has a great recipe). Butter-pecan ice cream, of course. Marcel Desaulnier has a fantastic bourbon-pecan cake, which you could cut into small squares and glaze with ganache spiked with bourbon. Top with a candied pecans. Or candied pecans could be their own item. I've made great baklava from pecans, using maple syup in place of the honey. I think a big platter filled with an assortment of mini pecan items could be very elegant. But if you are looking to plate, I would go with a pecan tart or the bourbon-pecan cake, with a quenelle of pecan ice cream and a drizzle of caramel over the plate, which, what the heck, could be sprinkled with some pecans. (This is one case where the ubiquitous caramel drizzle makes sense - pecans and caramel taste great together.)
This is basically a repeat of what curious baker suggested but I think pecan tassies would be very popular. My boss used to bring them to work and she had to give each person two apiece so that people would not fight over them. They are time consuming but worth the work! They might be more casual than what you are looking for though with this meal.