Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mini Nut Tarts

Reading the ingredients on some frozen tartlet shells gave me pause for thought. My university education was yet again failing me. I had no idea what half the ingredients were or where they came from.

So, I went back to the original recipe I made years ago for mini nut tarts with homemade shells (when made with pecans- also known as pecan tassies). Well, almost the original recipe. I refuse to buy/use corn syrup, so I tried to make them without and they turned out even better!

Here is the new nut tart addictive that you may want to double the recipe.

Mini Nut Tarts
Makes 16-20, depending on size of mini muffin tins
If you decide you want to use pre-made shells, use sweetened shells for this filling. Do not overbake these little gems- the best part is the ever-so-slightly gooey filling!

1 cup unbleached flour
1 tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup softened cream cheese (about 1/4 of a standard package)
2 tbsp softened unsalted butter (plus additional for greasing pan)
2 tbsp milk

1 egg
2 tbsp water
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp melted butter
1/8 tsp sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans (or hazelnuts/walnuts/etc.)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a mini muffin tin. Toast pecan pieces in preheated oven for 3-5 minutes, make sure they don't burn.
2. To make dough: whisk together flour, sugar and salt in a small bowl. Beat cream cheese, butter and milk in another bowl. Add flour mixture to cream cheese mixture and beat or stir until it starts to moisten. Shape into a ball and knead for one minute on a lightly floured surface. Shape into log and cut into 16-20 pieces (if you have tiny muffin tins, it will make closer to 20. Small muffin tins make about 16. Try one piece about 1 tablespoonful to check. Press into muffin tin and up sides gently, trying to keep bottom intact. When finished, place muffin tin with pastry in freezer while making filling.
3. To make filling: Mix all ingredients (except pecans) in a medium-sized bowl until thoroughly combined.
3. Remove muffin tin from freezer, sprinkle a small pinch (1-1/2 tsp) of pecans into each tart shell. Then spoon about 1 tbsp filling into each tart shell. Bake for approximately 15 minutes, or until edges just start to turn golden and filling starts to bubble.
4. Let cool for several minutes before removing to cooling rack. Refrigerate or freeze.