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Author Notes: These little beauties are the perfect bites of pecan pie, with a buttery and flaky cream cheese crust and sweet and nutty filling that will make you want to grab another one…but they also have a neat history. This recipe is from my great grandmother, who came to America in 1941. She immigrated here on the last ship sailing from Shanghai to the U.S., before the Communist War in China caused travel to be cease.
Ok. Now that I'm done with the history lesson..another bonus of these pieces of buttery goodness is that they are super easy to make. Usually when I make pie dough I know I have to make sure my butter is super cold and that my dough never gets too warm. Not to mention internally worrying about overworking the butter into the dough, which will ruin my chances of getting a flaky crust. But with this fool-proof crust there is no need to worry about that! You actually need to first leave the cream cheese and butter out to warm up and soften a bit. Not completely warmed to room temperature, but you should be able to use your finger to make an indent in both ingredients pretty easily. Then you just knead the butter, flour, and cream cheese all until it comes together as a dough and plop it into the fridge for a bit. Then when you are placing them in the tins, you don't need to worry about over handling at all. I've squished and patched mini pie crusts into the tins and have always had super flaky, buttery, and tangy results. Easy as..uh.. pecan tarts! No need to worry about overworking or melting the butter too much or having to keep on rushing your pie crust back into the fridge 10 times. —Mimi
Makes 24 mini tarts
- 4 ounces cream cheese (softened)
- 1/2 cup butter (softened)
- 1 1/4 cups flour
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon softened butter
- 1/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
- 1/4 cup dark corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- pinch of salt
- 1 1/4 cups coarsely chopped toasted pecans
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease one mini muffin tin pan with butter (don't be shy with the amount of butter, or your tarts will stick!)
- Crust: In a bowl, add butter and cream cheese to flour. Use your fingers to tear the butter and cream cheese into small chunks. Work the butter and cream cheese into the flour with your fingers until the mixture is a coarse meal. Press and knead the mixture together until a dough forms. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes.
- Filling: Meanwhile, beat the egg, butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, and salt together with a standard mixer or whisk. Add the nuts and stir to combine and coat nuts.
- When dough is done chilling, tear off a piece and roll into a 1 inch ball. Flatten into a disk just large enough to line one muffin cup (not too thin or the crust will be too delicate and break). Press into the muffin tin to make a little pie crust and repeat until all 24 cups are filled. (Note. If you have leftover dough, use it to patch up some of the other crusts and to add more dough to some of the thinner parts.) Chill whole pan in refrigerator for 5 minutes.
- Use a small spoon or measuring spoon (I use a teaspoon) to divide filling evenly between tarts. The amount of filling should be mounded but each cup shouldn't be filled to high.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until crusts are golden brown. Let cool for at least 15 minutes. Use a knife to carefully loosen and take out each tart. Enjoy right away or cool.