Gooey bite sized pecan pies with a buttery tender crust are a delicious way to break the mold of traditional holiday cookies. They have always managed to make it to an ongoing list of must-bake Christmas cookies in my home each year and there is a definite reason for that.
Once Halloween is over, our time gets cut increasingly short. Anything we can do to plan ahead and save some time is always a blessing. I thought bringing these tried and true family favorites to all of you would be perfect. They can be baked ahead with very little fuss and frozen until needed, unlike cutout cookies which are insanely time consuming and don’t usually store well. Because these morsels are bite sized, there is less waste and they’re so much more portable than standard pies. Great for Thanksgiving, Christmas and/or holiday cookie plates!
My mom is the one who found this recipe and brought it to our family. We have no idea where it originates, but it’s been in the family as long as I can remember. Kind of an awesome long-lost sister if you ask me! The crust uses cream cheese and butter to achieve it’s overall richness and tender crumb. The filling is what standard pecan pie- brown sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla and of course pecans. My mom always added a small amount of vinegar to it so you’d achieve less tooth sucking sweetness.
When I relocated to the south, I began to realize there was a season for nuts. My only prior experience with nuts was the ones in bags that were shelled and ready for baking, or the kind in bulk with various varieties to crack open by the fireside during Christmas. While no one I know has pecans (which are my favorite), I had free flowing access to walnuts and hickory nuts this year. Since the hickory nuts were ready fairly quickly for eating, I decided to see if I could use them in this recipe, and sure enough I could. Hickory nuts are more bitter than a traditional pecan, but for free foraging I was pretty stoked at the quality. They adapted well to this recipe.
If you have access, try the hickory nuts. Otherwise pecans will work amazingly well- after all they are named Pecan Tassies. Oh, and one more word to the wise- bake an extra batch (it’s what mom’s recipe says).
To full plates and eating your tarte out,
- 3 ounces of cream cheese
- 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 1 cup of flour
- 3/4 cup of brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup of ground pecans or hickory nuts
- 1 teaspoon of white vinegar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a small bowl, combine cream cheese and butter. Add in the salt and flour till just combined. Using a mini muffin tin, press in a heaping teaspoon of dough to cover the bottoms and sides of the tin. Set aside.
- In a large bowl combine the remaining ingredients. Mix till throughly combined. Fill the crusts to about 1/4" from the top, do not overfill.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until tops are set and crust is lightly brown. Allow to cool in pan. Remove gently, use a butter knife as needed.