Sunday, December 5, 2010

Mini Chocolate Pecan Tarts: Creating Family Harmony

One batch of Christmas cookies that my dad loves are Tassie’s Tarts – which are essentially miniature pecan pies.

One batch of Christmas cookies that my mom hates making are Tassie’s Tarts.

This leads to an interesting household dynamic in December. One that I fortunately live several hundred miles away from at the moment, because I can see both sides.

Look at those little things. So cute and tasty. And such a pain in the _)*&)*^%(& to put together compared to, say pecan pie bar cookies. Mom and Dad, I understand you both. And thanks to the advent of unlimited free in-network cell phone conversations, I hear both of you talk about this. All the time.

To improve the situation this year, I decided to make a slightly dressed up version of Tassie’s Tarts and ship them to my dad. But how to dress them up?

Yep. Just a bit of El Rey chocolate, of course.

Chocolate Pecan Tarts (Adapted from my mother and Nick Malgieri’s Bake!)

Filling Ingredients

1 cup chopped pecans

¼ cup sugar

2 tablespoons molasses

1/3 cup light corn syrup

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (1/4 inch pieces) (El Rey Saman 70% cocoa)

2 tablespoons butter, cut into 4 pieces

1 egg plus 1 egg yolk

2 teaspoons vanilla

Tart Crust Ingredients

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

11 tablespoons butter, softened

1 1/3 cups flour

Pinch of salt

Begin by preparing the filling. Stir together the sugar, molasses, and corn syrup over medium heat until boiling; remove from heat and add the chocolate and butter. DO NOT STIR; rather, shake the pan a bit so that the hot sugar mixture covers the butter and chocolate. Let sit for two minutes, then whisk mixture until uniform. Slowly whisk in egg and yolk, then add the vanilla and the pecans, stir until well-mixed.

To make the shells, beat together the cream cheese and butter until fluffy, then beat in the flour and salt. Chill the dough for 30 minutes, then divide in to 32 equally-sized bits of dough.

The number 32 makes me very happy because it’s 2^5. This means that it’s easy to divide the dough this way, because you simply keep dividing the bits of dough in half until you have 32 pieces.

Have I mentioned before that I’m an engineer? If not, the fact that this makes me positively giddy should be a giveaway.

Spray a mini-muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray, then drop one of the bits of dough in each muffin slot. Shape the dough along the edges of each muffin slot.

Once the tart shells are all shaped, bake empty shells at 350° F for 5 minutes. Fill each shell to just below the top.

Then bake for an additional 20-25 minutes, and hope that they effortlessly pop out of the pan for your eating enjoyment.

Or hope that they come out easily for the sake of household harmony, seeing as I believe most instances in which I recall my mother cursing involved making Tassie’s Tarts.

Are there any difficult-to-make cookies that are holiday traditions in your family?


  1. Oh, it kills me that you have constant access to all these amazing chocolates! El Rey's Icoa absolutely opened my mind to white chocolate...

    I've only had pecan pie once and it was horribly sickly sweets... these look amazing! (Again, I think the molasses is helping my adoration ;) )

  2. @Hannah Hannah, can you get Callebaut in Australia? It's actually my favorite white chocolate - El Rey is my favorite milk chocolate, though.

    I agree on traditional pecan pie being a bit sweet; the molasses and chocolate give it more depth and flavor besides pure sugar. Also, since these are mini, the crust to filling ratio is much higher, which also cuts down on the excessive sweetness. Give it a try!

  3. I'm not a pecan pie person, but could definitely see myself being a fan of these! They're so cute! We don't really have any traditional cookies because I usually do the baking and my thing is to bake things that are new to me. Bah humbug?

  4. @Jessica @ bake me away! That's totally not bah-humbug! That's something new and exciting every year. Besides, I'm the one turning all our tried-and-true family recipes upsidedown this year.

    You could fill these with any kind of pie filling - mini lemon meringue pies would be cute.

  5. Oh that looks gorgeous! I could stare at the picture of the batter with pecan bits....