Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Pecan Tarts

Snow outside my window always creates a desire for a cup of tea and something sweet.  And baking. Something to fill the oven with tempting aromas. Like pie. Like when you crave pecan pie during the holidays, but pecan pie is almost always so sickening sweet that you can hardly finish a piece of pie....well, these little morsels are just the perfect bite size treat. They melt in your mouth and satisfy the cravings without the guilt of eating an entire pie... or piece of pie.  

This recipe came from my Aunt Jeri in California and has remained a favorite recipe since she passed on the ingredient list. 

Here's what you'll need for making about 36 Tart Shells :
½ lb butter (yes, thats 2 (two) sticks of real butter!!)
6 ounces cream cheese substitue (I prefer Rice Cream, but its difficult to find)
2 cup flour
½ tsp salt
And for the *** FILLING ***
1 ½ cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 cups pecans, chopped

Blend butter and cream cheese substitute until creamy and well blended.

Add flour and salt and mix until flour is just blended. Dough will be very sticky.

Set aside to rest. While you mix the filling.

I've always been  Kitchen Aid kinda gal....until this beautiful item arrived at Christmas:  Cuisinart Food Processor.  The BIG one! Oh yes! My loyalties are quickly changing as I find all sorts of wonderful short cuts in the kitchen with this baby.

Place pecans in a food processor and pulse 3-6 times until chopped almost fine. Or chop them by hand. 
How can you not love 4 pulses and taaaaadaaaaa...

Now melt your butter in the microwave. 

What? That brown thing?

Why yes, that is a coffee filter!  Its unbleached and it fits just perfect on top of almost everything that needs to be reheated in the microwave. I keep a box of them in the drawer next to the microwave.

Add egg, brown sugar and melted butter.

Pulse again until all ingredients are well mixed.

You do not need muffin liners, but you will need to make sure to grease your muffin pan if you are not using a DeMarle pan.

I have these nifty kitchen gadets from Pampered Chef and DeMarle that make scooping dough and pressing tarts almost effortless:

I like the lean-manufacturing process of making rolling all the balls, then pressing all the tarts, then filling each shell.  So on to the dough..... Using a Pampered Chef small scoop, make a ball of dough and drop it into mini muffin tins.
Using dough press, or your thumb, press down ball of dough to form a hollow center.

You do not want to see thru the tart shell. If your shell looks like this, then re-roll it and press it again:

This is what you want:

Fill each center pastry shell with 1 teaspon of filling. When finished, go back and add another 1/2 tsp if your shells have room.

Bake at 350 convection for 12-16 minutes.  I bake everything on Convection bake.  I also bake at a high altitude so you will need to watch your baking times for your oven.
Bake for 375 standard for 15-20 minutes
Allow tarts to rest in pan for 5 minutes before removing to cooling rack.

Now share the love with your family, or make your kids teachers really happy to see you on Monday morning!

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