December 20, 2009

Baby Nut Tarts

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before...
"What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?"One of the most debated ingredients I encounter when baking is the addition of nuts. Many dessert fans absolutely love them, while others fiercely stand their ground, insisting that even a minuscule piece of walnut be removed from their Christmas cookie. Because I love cooking and baking for the enjoyment of others, it does not offend me when preferences are made. That's the beauty of it all, an art form that can be accommodated to everyone's liking.
This recipe though, is really for nut lovers only. During the holidays, I really crave the taste of pecan pie (sometimes called "Millionaire's Pie"), but for me, it's almost too rich to enjoy and finish a complete slice. When I found this little recipe (given to me many years ago by a friend), I couldn't resist making what I envisioned as "tiny pecan pies." And that's what they are! They taste delicious, freeze well, and are a "just right" ending to a delicious holiday buffet or dessert table. You'll need a mini muffin pan, or two, to save time. You can make these exclusively with pecans, but I found them to be even better with the addition of walnuts as well.
Baby Nut Tarts (makes 2 dozen)
For the tart shells:
1 small package (3 oz.) of cream cheese, softened
1 stick (1/2 cup) of unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup all-purpose flour
*Mix three ingredients together to form a soft dough; set aside.

For the filling:
3/4 cup firmly packed, light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon bourbon
pinch of sea salt
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Combine the sugar, egg, butter, extract, bourbon and salt. Mixture will be silky and thick.
Roughly chop the pecans and walnuts together.
Mix into the butter-sugar batter....
And it will soon look like this. (Resist the temptation to eat with a spoon! Aren't your teeth aching?)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Now for the assembly. Shape the dough into 1 inch balls and place one ball inside each muffin cup.

Here's the creative part. If you have a wooden tart shaper, use that to shape the dough into miniature tart shells. Your fingers work just as well if you don't have one of these, but it's a fun tool to have around.
Gently spoon nut mixture into unbaked crusts, filling just to edges.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until tarts are bubbly and have set. Using a small fork or rounded knife, remove tarts from pan and allow to cool on wire cookie rack.

Can be frozen for up to 3 months.

Enjoy the holiday season-

1 comment:

Libby said...

Ohhhh...these look really yummy! I will have to keep them in mind for this up coming holiday season :) Love it! They're like little mini pecan pies :)