Wednesday, December 10, 2008

12 Cookies of Christmas: Day 9 ~ Pecan Tassies

It seems to me that Pecan Tassies have been around forever. I can remember making batch after batch of these the first few Christmases after I got married, when the baking bug had bitten and I wasn't quite daring enough to tackle a full-on pecan pie. Teeny tassies ~ from the French tassette, for "little pouch, purse, or pocket" ~ were cute, manageable, safe ~ Fun-Size pies.

But it turns out that there's a little bit more to the tassie than making a low-maintenance pastry crust and filling it with just enough filling to make it a respectable little pie. Before this batch, I hadn't made pecan tassies in a good long time, and there's a good reason why. When I think back to those tassies of yore, I remember a thick, bland crust that tasted mostly of cream cheese. The filling was okay, but usually there wasn't enough of it to justify the time and trouble involved in forming 24 individual little tartlets, or to support the stingy bit of pecan goodness nestled in each center.

But then the list of Gourmet's Favorite Cookies came out and lo and behold, the tassie was among them. Coming off the sugar high of Thanksgiving pecan pies (I've made some progress over the years), both of my kids immediately seized on this as one of their cookie picks, so there you have it, I was making tassies.

Fortunately, I was able to redeem my past experiences with this cookie to modify the recipe a little, at least enough to make it into something that I like quite a bit more than the tassies I used to make. You can try the original, or add my modifications. Either way, enjoy!

Pecan Tassies

~Adapted from Gourmet magazine, April 1985, available online here
  • 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon butter, softened (I used salted)

  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar (not in original ingredients ~ my addition)

  • 1 large egg

  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

  • 1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I used 1/4 teaspoon)

  • Pinch salt

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine 1/2 cup butter, cream cheese, flour, and confectioners' sugar. Stir or knead until the dough comes together into a ball and all the ingredients are well mixed. Divide the dough in to 24 small balls and press evenly into the bottoms and up the sides of 24 small muffin tins. Refrigerate while you make the filling.

  2. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and allow to cool. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a mixing bowl, beat egg with the brown sugar until smooth. Stir in the pecans, the butter, the vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Spoon the filling evenly into the 24 pastry-lined muffin cups. Bake the pecan tassies at 350 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes, until the filling is slightly puffed and the edges of the pastry are golden. Let cool on a rack.

Makes 24 Pecan Tassies

Recipe Notes:

  • I added a bit of confectioners' sugar to the pastry because I felt the dough was lacking without it. It makes the pastry slightly sweeter, which is okay considering there's not much filling in each tassie ~ it's not the same as putting a sweet crust under a full-size pecan pie (which would be overkill).

  • I decided to use a blend of pecans and walnuts for these because I wanted to vary the texture a bit. Either works well. Pecans are, of course, traditional, but try this sometime with walnuts and chocolate chips ~ a variation of the Kentucky Derby pie!

  • Getting these out of the pan proved a little challenging because the crust is so delicate. I solved this by putting a paper towel over the surface of the cooled tassies as a "net," then flipping the pan. The tassies fell out into the paper towel, which cushioned them enough that the delicate sugar crust on their surface wasn't crushed. I tapped gently on the bottom of the pan with a spoon to release the few stubborn cling-ons.

  • These freeze pretty well, so into the freezer they go!

    1. Now go see what my fellow bakers are up to today, on this 9th day of Cookies! Andrea of Andrea's Recipes, Claire of The Barefoot Kitchen, Kelly of Sass & Veracity, Courtney of Coco Cooks, Jerry of Cooking by the Seat of My Pants, and Judy of No Fear Entertaining are sure to have something yummy going on.


    Judy@nofearentertaining said...

    Beautiful little bites of perfection! Love how these look and I bet they taste just as good!

    glamah16 said...

    Like that you can freeze thes and serve up later. I am tempted to try these.

    Andrea said...

    I remember these from childhood. They are so good, and yours look like they turned out perfect!

    Claire said...

    I LOVE these. It's been terribly dangerous having them in the apartment, because I just keep eating them. So pretty!

    Joy the Baker said...

    These look just darling. I love that the pecan pie is now bite sized. Perfect for the holiday dessert table. Thanks for sharing this!

    Anonymous said...

    Those are perfect! I think these will get me "back in the saddle" today so I can finish my 12. Love your changes -- walnuts are a favorite. I may go even smaller if I get the nerve up...we'll see!

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