I hope y'all are really in the mood for some merry spirit this week. Yes, this week it's all about the supper onion pie, salt roasted pears with caramel sauce *swoon*, and artichokes and hollandaise. What I mean is that this week is all about the Christmas spirit embodied in heart warming cheerful FOOD!! These pecan tassies are a PERFECT example. I would really only make these once a year, for Christmas, they're just that plain special. They are like the most amazing pecan pie you've ever eaten wrapped up in a little biesized muffin cup. Are you going out to buy the ingredients yet?? Seriously, these could be a present in and of themselves for someone special. I just LOVE these things, and I'm totally not opposed to the amount of work that goes into each little bite beacause they are so dang delicious and worth it!! In hindsight I wish I had taken more pictures of these. I rushed to get them into gift boxes, and only snapped one pic. Even though I'll be making more very soon, I needed to share these STAT. It's serious business. Merry Christmas everyone :))
Vanilla Malt Soft Sugar Cookies
Soft Candy Caramels
*Yield: about 40 tassies
For the tassie shell:
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tbl sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream together the butter, cream cheese, and sugar until well combined, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl. With the mixer on low, slowly pour in the flour until completely combined and a dough forms. Pinch off walnut sized pieces of dough and roll into balls (shoot for about 40 balls). Place each ball into a mini cupcake tin, and use your fingers to press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the cups. Refrigerate. If you're like me you don't have 40 mini muffin tins, and you'll end up doing this in batches. Proceed to make the tassie filling.
For the tassie filling:
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tbl pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped (directions below)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt until completely combined. Add 1/2 cup of the pecans and stir. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of nuts between the 40 tassie shells. Fill each one 3/4 of the way with filling. Bake for about 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature of the oven to 250 degrees and bake for another 10 minutes or until the filling is set. Allow the tassies to cool for at least 30 minutes before serving. Tassies will keep at room temperature for about 2 days.
How to Toast Nuts
Oven method: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Spread the nuts in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until fragrant, flipping the nuts halfway through.
Estimated baking times for different nuts:
pine nuts = 5 minutes
almonds, pecans, and walnuts = 10 minutes
hazelnuts and macadamia = 12 minutes
Skillet method: Place the nuts in a single layer in a large skillet set over medium heat. Stir and flip the nuts frequently until fragrant and almost golden. Usually the nuts will toast more quickly using this method.
Source: Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito.