Friday, June 18, 2010

Pecan Tassies

Pecan Tassies - made June 18, 2010 from The Practical Encyclopedia of Baking by Martha Day

We have a family picnic tomorrow and naturally, I'm bringing desserts. I made red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting already and I'm going to bake chocolate chip cookies first thing in the morning tomorrow. I asked my cousins what they'd like me to bring and my cousin Christine asked if I made "those pecan tarts with the cream cheese crust." As soon as she said cream cheese, I knew she meant pecan tassies. They're like my butter pecan tartlets but with cream cheese in the crust. I'd never made them before so this seemed like a good opportunity to try something new.

Unfortunately I've been packing up my baking books in preparation for a move sometime this summer so I didn't have a lot of books to sift through looking for a recipe. Fortunately, one of the baking books I hadn't packed yet was the Practical Encyclopedia of Baking. I've had this book for so long that I don't remember when and where I got it or even why. Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever made anything from it. Not that I recall anyway. But it did have a recipe for pecan tassies so this was my chance to finally use the book.

They were easy enough to make. I didn't bother rolling out the dough since I'm used to making tarts and it was easy enough to shape by hand in the mini muffin cups. The dough recipe makes the right amount of tarts but the filling recipe makes too much filling - you could probably halve the filling recipe and still have enough for 24 tarts. I toasted the pecans first like I always do when I bake with nuts then let them cool while I chilled the tarts. The recipe said to bake them for 20 minutes but I confess I forgot and left them in for an extra 4 minutes (I was blow drying my hair and lost track of time - oops). But the tarts survived my neglect and were a nice golden brown when I took them out.

I have to admit I was a little disappointed in them though. They tasted okay but my butter pecan tartlets are better. The crust was light on these and the filling wasn't too sweet. Which is fine unless you like a more dense shortbread crust (which I do) and a sweeter filling (which I do). They're not bad and hopefully they'll be all right for tomorrow's picnic. But I have to tell Christine someday I need to make her the butter pecan tartlets and see if she likes them better.

4 ounces cream cheese
½ cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1 cup flour

For the Filling
2 eggs
¾ cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup pecans

1. Place a baking sheet in the oven and preheat to 350˚F. Grease 2 12-cup mini-muffin tins.
2. Cut the cream cheese and butter in pieces. Put in a mixing bowl. Sift over the flour and mix to form a dough.
3. Roll the dough out thinly. With a fluted pastry cutter, stamp out 24 2 ½-inch rounds. Line the muffin cups with the rounds and refrigerate while making the filling.
4. For the filling, lightly whisk the eggs in a bowl. Gradually whisk in the brown sugar, a few tablespoons at a time, and add the vanilla, salt and butter. Set aside.
5. Reserve 24 undamaged pecan halves and chop the rest coarsely with a sharp knife.
6. Place a spoonful of chopped nuts in each muffin cut and cover with the filling. Set a pecan half on the top of each.
7. Bake on the hot baking sheet until puffed and set, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool. Serve at room temperature.

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