I think of these cute
little Pecan Tassies as miniature Pecan Pies. They make a nice
addition to your holiday baking, and are especially good when you're having a large
group over for dinner and want to serve your desserts buffet style. The pastry is unique as it contains cream cheese, which
adds both flavor as well as making the pastry wonderfully tender and flaky.
I love how the
custard-like filling is sweet and gooey and has lots of crunchy pecans.
Pecans Tassies store very well and can also be frozen.
Tarts begin with pastry.
For these Pecan Tassies, I decided to use a cream cheese pastry that is made with
just three main ingredients; cream cheese, butter, and flour. This pastry is a
dream to work with. It rolls out easily, doesn't tear, and when baked it
turns golden brown. The filling, like a pecan pie, is sweet and gooey,
although I do not find it cloyingly so (as there is no corn syrup). It is
important not to over bake these tarts, or the filling will become
somewhat grainy. So bake them just until the filling looks set around
the edges, but the centers still look soft. And the filling does puff
up during baking, but will settle back down once the tarts have
Of course, the star of
the show here is the Pecan. Pecans, named
Pakans by Algonquin Indians because of their hard shell, are a native
American nut. They are a member of the hickory family and grow in
temperate climates. Pecans have a smooth,
reddish-brown, one-inch (2.5 cm) long oval shell which encloses two
golden-brown crinkled lobes with ivory-colored meat. They have a buttery,
soft-textured, slightly bittersweet taste that is enhanced when toasted.
If you would like to toast the pecans before adding them to the filling,
simply place the pecans on a baking sheet and bake for about eight minutes in a
350 degree F (180 degree C) oven until lightly browned and fragant. If you
don't have pecans, you could also use chopped walnuts.
Cream Cheese Pastry: In the
bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter,
cream cheese, and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the flour
and salt and beat until incorporated. Divide the pastry into four
equal portions. Flatten each portion into a round disk,
wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for about one hour or until firm (can be chilled
Preheat the oven to 375
degrees F (190 degrees C). Have ready two - 24 cup miniature muffin pans.
Remove one round of the pastry from
the refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface
roll the pastry until it's about 1/8 inch thick.
Using a round or fluted cookie cutter, that is slightly larger than
the muffin cups, cut the pastry into rounds, and then gently
fit the rounds into the muffin tins. Gather up any scraps of pastry
and re-roll. (Each portion will make about 12 rounds of pastry.)
Repeat with the other three disks of chilled pastry. Place the pastry
lined muffin tins in the refrigerator while
you make the pecan filling.
Pecan Filling: Place
the eggs in a large bowl, and whisk until lightly beaten. Then
whisk, or stir, in the brown sugar, melted butter, vanilla, and salt
until well combined. Spoon or pour about 1 tablespoon of the filling
into each of the pastry-lined muffin tins (you want the pastry cups to
be about 3/4 full). Sprinkle each with some coarsely chopped pecans.
Bake in the preheated
oven for about 17-20 minutes, or until the pastry has nicely browned
around the edges and
the filling is just set, but still a little soft in the center. (The
filling does puff up during baking but will settle back down during cooling.) Remove from
oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about five minutes before removing
the Pecan Tassies to finish cooling on a wire rack. Pecan Tassies can be frozen.
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