Monday, December 20, 2010

Pecan Tartlets

You know me, I love pecan pie. It is my all-time favorite pie. You've heard that already. But because it's my favorite, when I saw the recipe for these Pecan Tartlets, I just knew I had to make them. And I'm so glad I did! They are so yummy and you pretty much can't go wrong with them! I will say that they are a bit time consuming, cutting out all the little circles of dough and forming all the tartlets. I don't think it would have taken me as long if I had more mini muffin tins, but since I only have one it took me a while.  However, they are so yummy and very worth it. I'm so glad I made them {and glad I gave most of them away or else I would have eaten them all!}.
Also, check back tomorrow for a little something different I did with my leftover tartlet makings.

Pecan Tartlets
Time: 1 1/2 to 2 hours
Makes: 3 1/2 dozen tartlets

You will need a mini muffin tin

For the pastry:
6 oz. cream cheese {I used 1/3 fat cream cheese and it worked really well}
1 c. butter
2 c. flour
1/8 t. salt
Place cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl and beat until creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Add flour and salt and beat until dough comes together and forms a ball.

For the pecan filling:
2 eggs
2/3 c. corn syrup
2/3 c. sugar
2 t. flour
2 T. butter, melted
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c. chopped pecans
Combine all ingredients, except pecans, and beat or whisk until combined. Reserve pecans for assembling the tartlets.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Roll out dough about an 1/8 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. I prefer my dough to be a little thinner but if you like a thicker crust, a 1/4 inch would be perfect, too. If your dough is excessively sticky or too soft, refrigerate for 15-20 minutes before rolling out. This helps give it a firmness.
Another trickI have is to handle the pastry dough as little as possible. Mix it up, roll it out, cut the circles. Gently combine the scraps from that batch then roll it out again. In other words, you don't have to get it perfectly in a ball the second time before you roll it out again. The less you handle your pastry, the more flaky and soft it will be when it's baked. However, don't let my "handle with care" tip scare you away from making these yourself. This is probably the easiest pastry dough I've ever made in my life.
{Because I only have one mini muffin pan, my pastry dough was sitting on the counter between batches. If you find that it begins to get too warm in your kitchen, the dough will soften and get stickier, thereby making it more difficult to handle. This is when the fridge trick will be especially helpful. Put your dough in the fridge while one batch is baking. When that batch is finished baking, you can take them out of the oven, put the tartlets on cooling racks then pull out the dough from the fridge and make more circles. This also helps give your pan time to cool down so you can make more tartlets without having to use a hot pan.}
Using a 2 1/2 inch round cookie cutter or glass, cut out circles. Press into mini muffin tins, going all the way up the sides of the cups. I used my knuckle to press the dough into the baking cups {I have long nails so using my fingers didn't work for me}. I also found that a bottle cap from my baby's bottles worked really well.
Using my knuckle to press the pastry into the baking cup.
Your pastry should look like this.
Sprinkle a generous teaspoon full of pecan pieces into the bottom of each tartlet. 
You can use a teaspoon to spoon the pecans into the pastry...
. . . or do like me and just dump some pecans in there until you have the amount you want.

Spoon about 1 1/2 t. of the syrup on top of the pecans, covering the pecans and filling at least 3/4 of each tartlet.
I found that a teaspoon was about enough.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, until lightly golden brown and filling is set. Note that the filling won't appear to be very set right when you pull it out. You can jiggle the pan a little to see if the filling moves a lot. It is seems like it mostly there, they are probably done. Your best judge at this point will be the pastry dough. It should be lightly golden.
Note: these are super sticky.


Variation: The pastry dough can also be filled with your favorite jam before baking. Bake as directed above and sprinkle with powdered sugar after the tartlets have cooled.

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