Cream Cheese Pastry:
1 cup (226 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 ounces (170 grams) regular (full fat) cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated white sugar
2 cups (260 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (310 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
4 tablespoons (55 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 - 1 1/2 cups (100 - 125 grams) coarsely chopped pecans
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 overnight).
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.
Makes about 48 miniature Pecan Tassies.
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 cooled.
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.