I still remember the first time I had these pecan tarts. My godparents were in town for Christmas and brought a beautiful cookie jar filled with these sweet treats. After the first bite, I was in love with them. After the second bite, they were all gone. Perfect little bites of heaven. These pecan tarts were miniature versions of pecan pie, and better than any store-bought treats. All my sisters and I begged Tita Marcy for the recipe because we knew we had to have them again...and also because we finished the entire batch of pecan tarts! My sisters and I have been making them ever since which is at least 12 years or maybe more.
There are only a couple of special occasions that I will make these because they are pretty labor intensive and hands-on messy. When I wanted to impress a certain guy with my non-cooking skills, and I was only a baker...I baked them for his 20th birthday. He loved them so much that he married me. (Eric still remembers that birthday dinner because although I failed miserably on dinner, my dessert was pretty good). When I wanted to make something special for my co-workers, I made 4 batches and put them in Christmas themed treat bags so everyone could have their own. One time I hadn't made them in awhile, and Eric had wanted me to make them for his cookie exchange party...I completely forgot about the eggs! Also there was another time, my birthday cousin, wanted to learn to make them and we spent maybe about 6 hours in the kitchen doing them. She got pecan pieces in her eye...and refused to bake after that!
Nowadays, I always make them ONLY for Christmas because it's my holiday treat for everyone to enjoy. (I told you I wouldn't forget Natalie!) I hadn't made them in 2 years because I was in fear of losing my touch. Baking them in my kitchen this time around was ideal because I finally had the space for a mini assembly line and clean-up was a cinch with a dishwasher. It's like riding a bike making these treats, it gets easier every time. Caution: Once you have one...you won't stop!
Adapted from my godmother, Tita Marcy
1/2 cup butter, room temperature (1 stick)
1 bar of cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups butter (1.5 stick)
2.5 cups of tightly packed brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans (Chop coarsely in a mini-cup food processor)
1. Mix the dough ingredients together, I could have done this in my KA mixer. But this is an old school recipe, I use my hands for this. I use a mixer to get it going, but to really get the mixture blended...my hands are my best tool. It's just like kneading bread dough, and I want the perfect flaky crust.
2. Make little balls of dough, about a quarter size to fill my little muffin pans. I use a mixture of mini muffin tins. (24 Cup Minis but I prefer these denser 12 cup ones).
3. Place the balls into the muffin tins. Repeat with the rest of the sweet dough.
4. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the brown sugar. Mix the 3 eggs together, and slowly temper the hot butter mixture with the egg. Slowly add in all together and mix well.
5. Using my fingers, shape the balls into the mini muffin tin. Make sure the bottoms are not to thin or the filling will seep through.
6. Add 1 tablespoon of filling each tart and top with 1 teaspoon of chopped pecans.
7. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Review: Eat them warm, or at room temperature. I have tried using the tart tamper a couple years ago, and it didn't work well. Whenever I would use the tamper, it would stick to the dough. So I prefer using my hands for everything in this recipe. Hands-on is the best technique. Either way, they will disappear from your lips and onto your hips and that's why I only make them once a year. Hope you make them Natalie and thanks Tita Marcy for the making this the first time. It's been a keepsake recipe for the family to enjoy.
One batch is about 48. During Christmas, I'll make about 5 batches...it only takes me 4 hours or so.