OK, it's the holidays, so you have to have lots of treats. These Pecan Tarts are perfect for guests or for giving as a gift this holiday season. Mini pecan pies full of Louisiana pecans and lots of sugar...and they're bite-size! With the abundance of pecans in South Louisiana it’s no wonder that pecan pies reign supreme on the dessert table, so these mini pecan pies are sure to grab some attention. Simple to make and easy to eat, you’ll love these Pecan Tarts during the holidays and all year long.
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This is another holiday recipe with its roots in my family traditions. My mother-in-law (affectionally known as Grammie to all) has been making this family recipe for these Pecan Tarts during the holidays for decades, much to the delight of the entire family. Sometimes we call them Mini Pecan Pies or Little Pecan Pies but everybody knows what they are. South Louisiana is known for some of the best pecans and sugar produced anywhere, so it’s no wonder that Cajun and Creole cooks have developed numerous recipes in which to use this wonderful combination. I think you’ll agree that these bite-sized morsels are right at the top of the list.
Here’s What You Need
For the crust
For the filling
Want the best of Louisiana Pecans? Try these high-quality pecans from Bergeron's, one of Louisiana's leading pecan producers.
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Here’s What You Do
First...you have a beer. Read the recipe all the way through while you sip your beer. Read about the ingredients you need and what process you’ll be following. Making these tarts is rather simple but does take a little planning. The dough will be made at least a couple of hours, but preferably, the day before. Chop the pecans into chunky pieces, about ⅛ to ¼ inch each. Don’t stress over the size, just don’t make them too fine or too large. Measure all the other ingredients so all you have to do is assemble the recipe when you are ready. Lastly, forming the individual dough pieces for each tart, then placing the filling in each tart is not rocket science, you’ll get the hang of it after about 2 of them.
Make the dough
Making the dough should be done at least a couple of hours to a full day ahead of when you want to bake the tarts.
Start by placing the cream cheese and margarine in a mixing bowl until softened. This will take at least an hour, but let it sit until the cream cheese and margarine are soft enough to whip. When softened, use a fork or spoon to mix the margarine and cream cheese together. Stir vigorously until the mixture is smooth and completely mixed together.
Add the confectioner sugar and continue to mix until completely incorporated. Next, add the AP flour a little at a time, continuing to add flour and mix until a smooth (not sticky) dough forms. You may need a little less or a little more than 1 ½ cups of flour. so start with 1 cup and go from there.
When the dough is smooth and not sticky, roll it into a ball. Keep the dough ball in the bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or as long as overnight.
Make the filling
Crack the egg into a large bowl and whisk until smooth.
Add the brown sugar and a pinch of kosher salt. Whisk until completely combined.
Add the vanilla extract to the brown sugar and egg mixture.
Add the chopped pecans and combine completely. Set the filling aside, but stir it occasionally until you are ready to use it.
Assemble the tarts
Remove the dough from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before using it so that it softens and will be easy to work with. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pinch off a small piece of dough with one hand and form a disc by flattening the dough in the palm of your other hand. Work it until you have a flat piece of dough about ⅛ inch thick and approximately 2 ½” in diameter. You can experiment with this until you have it down.
Place the flattened dough gently into the mini muffin tins using your fingers.
Use your fingers or a tart tamper to gently press the dough into the muffin holes. Allow a little (approximately ⅛ inch) of the dough to overhang the top ridge, trimming off the excess.
Pro tip: A little overhang of the dough around the edges will make a nice, golden-brown crust around the edges of the mini pies. Allow about ⅛ inch overhang and trim off any dough more than that.
Once the dough has been molded into each mini muffin pan, give the filling a vigorous stir with a spoon and place about 1 tablespoon of the filling in each tart. The filling should come up to just under the top edge because it will rise while baking and you don’t want it to overflow.
Pro tip: Don’t overfill the muffin tins with pecan filling. The high sugar content will make the filling rise during baking and may overflow. Then you have a mess which is hard to clean off the muffin tins.
Bake the tarts
Place the filled muffin tins in the preheated 325 degrees Fahrenheit oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the edges of the dough are golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the Pecan Tarts to cool for about 10 minutes before removing them from the muffin tin. They should pop out without much encouragement.
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Hints and Tips
This recipe makes between 20 and 24 Mini Pecan Pies. The recipe can easily be doubled.
Yes, both the dough and the filling can be made a day ahead of baking. Make sure to set them out about an hour before you want to assemble the tarts so that the dough and filling are pliable and easier to work with.
Not really. The amount of margarine in the dough will make it nonstick so there is no need to prepare the tins further. It is recommended (but not necessary) to use nonstick muffin tins.
As I said, with the amount of margarine in the dough, these tarts should come out of the muffin tins will no problem. However, it’s important to make the dough as thin as possible without causing any tears or holes in the crust. When placing the dough in the muffin tins, tamp it down gently with your fingers or a tart tamper to completely cover the inside of the muffin tin. If there are any tears or holes, the filling will leak and then there will definitely stick to the tin.
Again, you’ll experiment a little but make sure not to overfill the tarts. It should be about 1 tablespoon but make sure the filling comes up to just under the top of the tin. The sugar will expand while baking, so the idea is to keep it contained so that it doesn’t boil over and stick to the muffin tin.
Yes, this is a great make-ahead recipe so you can have lots of sweet treats on hand for the holidays. Make the Pecan Tarts as directed, then allow them to come to room temperature. I suggest wrapping about a half dozen tarts in plastic wrap, then wrap that in aluminum foil and place some packs in a plastic freezer bag. Put these in the freezer and you’ll be able to grab a few packs when you want them. Let them thaw in the fridge overnight and they will be great. You can keep the tarts in the freezer for 3 to 4 months if they are airtight.
Don't forget these other Holiday Treats from Sweet Daddy D:
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Here's What You Need
For the crust
- 3 ounces cream cheese
- ½ cup margarine
- 1 ½ cup AP flour
- 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
For the filling
- ¾ cup dark brown sugar packed
- 1 whole egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup pecans chopped
- Pinch kosher salt
Here's What You Do
To make the crust
- Place cream cheese and margarine in a mixing bowl together and allow them to soften. This will take bewteen ½ and 1 hour.
- When soft, mix the margarine and cream cheese together.
- Mix in the confectioner sugar.
- Mix in the AP flour a little at a time.
- Continue to add flour and mix until a smooth (not sticky) dough forms. Add more flour if needed. See Notes.
- When the dough is smooth and not sticky, roll it into a ball. Keep the dough ball in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
- Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or as long as overnight.
To make the filling
- Measure ¾ cup of pecan halves and chop them into small pieces. Set aside.
- Crack the egg into a large bowl and whisk until smooth.
- Add the brown sugar, vanilla and a pinch of kosher salt. Whisk until completely combined.
- Mix in the chopped pecans and combine completely.
- Set aside.
To assemble the tarts
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator 30 minutes before needing.
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Pinch off a small piece of dough and form a disc in the palm of your hand that is approximately 2 ½” in diameter.
- Place the shaped dough gently into the mini muffin tins and use your fingers or a tart tamper to form the shells. Allow a little (approximately ⅛ inch) of the dough to overhang the top ridge, trimming off the excess. See Notes.
- Once all the dough has been placed in the mini muffin pan holes, mix the filling well with a spoon and place about 1 tablespoon of the filling in each tart. The filling should come up to about ¼ to ⅛ inch under the top edge because it will rise while baking and overflow. (See Notes)
- Place the muffin tins in the preheated 350 degrees Fahrenheit oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the edges of the dough are golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and allow the Pecan Tarts to cool for about 10 minutes before removing them from the muffin tin.