A small slice of this dense pecan torte satisfies even the most insatiable appetite. The combination of pecans in the cake and bourbon in the silken smooth whipped cream is a classic Southern crowd-pleaser.David Leite

A slice of pecan torte with bourbon whipped cream dolloped on the side

Pecan Torte with Bourbon Whipped Cream

5 / 4 votes
This pecan torte with bourbon whipped cream is a simple cake made with ground pecans, a little flour, salt, eggs, and sugar. A dollop of bourbon-spiked whipped cream takes it over the top.
David Leite
Servings8 servings
Calories331 kcal
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time1 hour 15 minutes


For the pecan torte

  • 1 3/4 cups pecans
  • 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar

For the whipped cream (optional)

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Make the pecan torte

  • Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C). Line the bottom of a 9-by-3-inch round cake pan with parchment paper cut to fit.
  • In a food processor, process the pecans, flour, and salt until finely ground. Do not overprocess.
  • Using a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks and 1/3 cup of the granulated sugar with the whisk on medium-high speed until pale and thick, 3 to 5 minutes. Using a large rubber spatula, fold in the pecan mixture. Transfer to a large bowl.
  • Thoroughly wash and dry the mixer bowl and whisk. Beat the egg whites with the whisk on medium speed until they start to foam.
  • Add 1/3 of the remaining granulated sugar and beat until the whites are opaque, then add another third of the sugar. When the whites start to increase in volume and become firm, add the remaining sugar and increase the speed to high. Beat until the whites form soft peaks but still look wet. Using the spatula, carefully fold 1/3 of the whites into the pecan mixture and then fold in the remaining whites.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until lightly browned and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let the cake cool completely on a wire rack.
  • Run a table knife around the edge of the pan and invert the pecan torte onto a cake stand or serving plate. Peel off the parchment paper. Carefully place the cake right side up on the stand or plate.

Make the bourbon whipped cream

  • Just before serving, in a stand mixer on medium-high speed, beat the cream, confectioners’ sugar, bourbon, and vanilla until the cream just holds its shape.

Serve the pecan torte with bourbon whipped cream

  • Cut the torte into wedges and place a dollop of whipped cream alongside each serving of pecan torte.


*What You Need To Know About Proper Whipping Technique

Whipping egg whites
For successful whipping, the bowl and beaters must be perfectly clean, because even a trace of fat prevents good loft. It is also important to start with room-temperature whites. Sugar and/or cream of tartar are often added during whipping to help stabilize the whites. To test if the whites are whipped to the desired finish, lift the beaters: soft peaks should droop over gently and look wet; medium firm peaks should stand upright but still appear moist and satiny.
Whipping cream
Beating air into cream stiffens it for use as a filling, frosting, or garnish. Always take cream for whipping straight from the refrigerator; cream allowed to stand at room temperature is more likely to separate as it is being whipped. Also chill the bowl and beaters (or whisk) on warm days or in a warm kitchen. If you have overwhipped the cream and it’s too stiff, try folding in a few tablespoons of cream, 1 at a time, from the carton.
Keep in mind that cream labeled “ultra pasteurized” will not rise to the same billowing heights as regular pasteurized cream.
Williams-Sonoma Cake by Fran Gage

Adapted From

Williams-Sonoma Cake

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Serving: 1 sliceCalories: 331 kcalCarbohydrates: 22 gProtein: 7 gFat: 25 gSaturated Fat: 6 gMonounsaturated Fat: 12 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 160 mgSodium: 132 mgFiber: 2 gSugar: 18 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2003 Fran Gage. Photo © 2003 Noel Barnhurst. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Overall, this beautiful pecan torte was a dream! Both to make and to enjoy. This is a real keeper!

There were several things that drew me to this pecan torte dessert recipe: minimal ingredients, very little flour and sugar, and no butter. (Oh, and the last minute dollop of bourbon-infused whipped cream didn’t hurt!) One would assume that a cake with no butter or oil added, minimal flour, and minimal sugar compared to other cake batters wouldn’t have a nice crumb or flavor, but think again. This pecan torte was moist, flavorful and springy to-the-touch.

The success of this pecan torte comes down to technique. That’s why I love this recipe so much! The detailed descriptions throughout the recipe were very helpful; everything from how not to overprocess your nut flour mixture into a nut paste, to whipping the egg yolks and first batch of sugar until pale and thick, to the importance of using a completely clean bowl to whisk the egg yolks to a soft peak were all very helpful and ensure that the reader gets the steps right. I really liked the way the author presented everything. All very helpful.

This cake was a nice surprise and surpassed my expectations—it was light and airy, like a génoise cake, with a pleasant pecan flavor. It contains few ingredients and comes together quickly. The cake is flavorful but not rich, so serving the bourbon whipped cream alongside it added decadence and a perfect complementary flavor.

The pecan torte itself is not a super sweet cake, so I dusted it with confectioners’ sugar before serving. This added a hint of sweetness and dressed the cake nicely. The bourbon cream has wonderful flavor and the proportion of sugar, bourbon and vanilla is right on, which provided the perfect balance of sweet and bourbon. The cream would also be a great complement to other desserts.

Overall, the torte makes a beautiful and unique dessert, but I would also serve it at a brunch or with coffee. The pecan flavor, light texture, and just the right amount of sweetness make this cake very versatile.

This recipe has only a few ingredients, but that makes it all the more important to follow the instructions. Luckily the author included important details to make sure this delicate cake rose, using only the power of eggs and air, no baking powder or soda was needed.

The outcome is a really light cake with lots of air and a slightly chewy texture. When I tasted the whipped cream on its own, I thought it would be too bourbon-y, but together with the cake, it was a good balance of flavors and textures. The recipe says optional, but I would highly recommend it, and I liked how the bourbon whipped cream enhanced it. Overall, the recipe and instructions were solid, and the cake turned out great!

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    I made this recipe and it was everything the above testers extolled. Next go round I will light toast the pecans to bring out a nuttier flavor.

    1. This is great, Judy N.! I love hearing you had such a good experience with this. Thank you.