These little gems turned out to be less like a pecan pie than I thought they would. Instead of a nut topping with a filling, they were packed with pecans and the liquid filling baked up to be just enough to clump all the nuts together. Between the taste and the size, these tarts are perfect for any get together or afternoon snack. The recipe below makes 24 tarts, 2 1/2 inches in diameter.
adapted from The Essential Baker
1 cup flour
1/2 cup softened butter
3 oz softened cream cheese
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbs dark corn syrup
2 tbs melted butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup of pecans
For pastry dough, cream together butter and cream cheese until fluffy. This should take about 2 minutes on medium speed using a stand mixer. With the mixer still running, add the flour in 1/4 cup increments, beating until the mixture becomes a ball of dough.
Flatten the ball of dough, wrap in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator to chill for no less than 2 hours. Remove and let stand for about 10 minutes until it becomes flexible. The dough should be able to be rolled easily without breaking and should not require a lot of flour.
Lightly dust 2 wax sheets of paper with flour. Then sandwich the dough disc between the wax paper with the flour side facing the dough. Roll until dough is 1/4 of an inch thick. Remove the top sheet of paper and dust off excess flour from the dough. Cut out rounds in the dough measuring 3 1/4 inches in diameter. Keep cutting and rolling scraps until there is no longer enough dough to cut out.
Place each circle of dough in the mini tart pans. Press and shape to fit all crevasses, making sure it clings to the bottom as well as the fluted sides. Smooth off the excess dough sticking above the top edges with your fingers. Place the pans on a baking sheet and chill in the refridgerator while you make the filling.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the nuts in a shallow foil pan or on a baking sheet. Let nuts toast in oven for 5 minutes. Remove and once the nuts have cooled, coarsely chop and set aside.
Fill a medium bowl with the egg, vanilla, butter and corn syrup. Whip together with a wire whisk. In a separate bowl, mix the sugar and salt together. Add this dry mix to the egg mixture, whisking until completely blended. Put mixture into a container with a pouring spout.
Take out the mini tarts. Evenly fill each one with the chopped pecans. Then pour the sugar mixture into each, dividing the liquid filling equally.
Leave the tarts on the baking sheet and place in oven to bake. Tarts are done when filling is set and crust is a light brown. This should take about 25-30 minutes. Remove pans and place on rack to completely cool.
Tarts should come out of pans easily by tapping on the bottom.
Notes and Tips:
1. The tartlet pans I used were not non-stick and the instructions stated they needed to be greased. I used a paper towel dipped in oil to grease the inside of the tart pans
2. Even with greasing the pans, the spilling of the filling on the top edge of the tart will cause it to stick, so be careful when pouring the filling.
**LAST YEAR: Brown Sugar Peanut Squares**