Last year I discovered Pecan Pie. Or should I say it discovered me. I’ve always been aware of its’ existence, but had never actually tried any before. It just never looked appealing to me… so gelatinous and richly sweet. Why was this pie so infamous during Holidays and in the South?? I just did NOT get it. Well, now I do. I wish I had had the guts to try it sooner because it now rivals my love affair with Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. So since I couldn’t make pecan pie for the blog this year since I did it last, I decided to take a similar route to meet my craving- Pecan Tassies (stay tuned for pecan pie bars next year!).
One thing that has always interested me about Pecan Tassies is the dough. I LOVE cream cheese pastry crust. It happens to be the main element in one of my favorite Christmas cookies (rugelach). I was excited to see how well it would play in these treats since the tanginess of the cream cheese is perfect for very sweet fillings. I also love how it makes such a foolproof alternative to flaky pie dough. Cream cheese takes the place of water and helps bring the dough together. The high proportion of fat means it’s practically impossible to toughen the pastry. It’s amazing how flaky it comes out when you just mix the dough together as one rather than cutting in the fat for the traditional flaky layers.
To divide your dough up for the crust you have two options: #1- you can eyeball ir OR #2- you can use a scale. I used my handy-dandy kitchen scale. I weighed the total weight of the dough in grams and then divided it by 40. Each was about 16 grams for my batch. It worked out perfectly. I also had another neat kitchen tool to simplify things for myself- this tart press. I got mine from pampered chef but I am sure you can find that at various other places. I don’t use it a lot because I don’t make much in my tart pan, but boy, when I do it really comes in handy.
I still have yet to decide whether I think Pecan Tassies are simpler to make then pecan pie. Tassies definitely have an easier crust to make, but then again it is much easier to roll out one pie crust then worry about 40 individual tarts. The fillings for each are very quick to come together so I guess the only difference in ease of preparation is the crust. Hmmm, what do you think??
And despite the fact that the Pecan Tassie filling doesn’t have any corn syrup or a few other traditional pecan pie ingredients, it still comes out sticky and gooey. I don’t know how it manages that. The filling puffs up slightly so be sure NOT to overfill the cups!! Seriously. Restrain yourself and only fill them 3/4 the way full. Otherwise they might overflow, plus it makes for an all around better appearance.
Look at that beautiful gooey filling and crispy top!! Along with the crunchy, toasted nuts… YUM! And the ones on top are almost caramelized. Just incredible.
I’m a fan.
- For the Dough:
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, cut into ½-inch cubes
- 6 ounces cream cheese, softened, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- For the Filling:
- 2 large eggs
- 1½ cups firmly packed light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
- For the Dough: In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese together on medium speed until the mixture is lump free. Add the sugar and beat again for 15 seconds. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl. Add the flour in four parts, at low speed, until the mixture is just combined and a dough forms. Pinch off a walnut-size piece of dough, roll it into a ball, and set it aside. Continue pinching and rolling until all the dough is gone. You will end up with approximately 40 pieces. Place each ball into an individual mini muffin pan, then use your fingers to press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of each pan.
- Once all the tassie shells have been formed, cover and place the muffin pan in the freezer while you make the filling.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs just until they break apart. While whisking, gradually add the brown sugar until completely combined. Add the vanilla and salt and whisk again. Add ½ cup of the chopped pecans and stir until they are completely mixed in.
- Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup pecans into the tassie shells. Spoon in enough filling into the shells until they are about three-quarters full.
- Bake for about 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 250 degrees F and bake for another 10 minutes, or until the filling is set.
- Allow the tassies to cool for at least 30 minutes. Serve them warm or at room temperature. Pecan tassies taste best the day they are made; however, you can wrap them in plastic and keep them at room temperature for up to 2 days.