Pecan pastries are synonymous with the American South; this recipe is a handheld compendium of community. The flavor profile mirrors its larger cousin — the full-sized pecan pie — but tarts serve just as ably as a crowd-pleaser. This pastry dough comes together easily, but be sure to chill it for at least an hour and a half before forming your tart shells in the pan. And resist the urge to overfill each pastry cup: the sweet, sticky pecan mixture should come only three-quarters of the way up the side because it will rise as it bakes. These pecan tarts can hold at room temperature for several days, if you have any left by then.
- Serves: 9 persons
- ⅔cup/151 grams unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan
- 4ounces/114 grams cream cheese, softened
- 1 ⅓cups/160 grams pastry flour (or 1 1/3 cups/171 grams all-purpose flour)
- ½teaspoon fine sea or table salt
- 1large egg
- ¾cup/165 grams packed brown sugar
- 1tablespoon melted unsalted butter
- 1teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½teaspoon honey
- ¼teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ⅔cup/79 grams very finely chopped pecans
Step 1Prepare the pastry: Beat softened butter and cream cheese in a large bowl with an electric mixer or by hand until thoroughly combined. If flour is clumpy, sift it into the bowl, then add salt. (Otherwise, simply add flour and salt.) Mix on low speed to combine into a pliant pastry dough (it will be somewhat sticky), then turn out onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Use the wrap to press the dough into a square, then wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 1/2 hours.
Step 2Prepare the filling: In a medium bowl, beat egg with an electric mixer or by hand. Add the brown sugar, melted butter, vanilla, honey and nutmeg and mix until well combined, then stir in the pecans.
Step 3Make the tarts: Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease 9 cavities of a mini tart pan or standard muffin tin with butter. Divide chilled dough into 9 even pieces and place 1 in a buttered cup. Press the dough against the bottom and side to form a shell. This may take a moment. Repeat with the remaining 8 pieces of dough. Be careful to smooth out any cracks, tears or holes in your pastry as you fill the pan.
Step 4Divide pecan filling among pastry shells, filling each no more than three-quarters of the way. Be careful not to overfill.
Step 5Bake tarts until browned and set, 27 to 32 minutes. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then carefully remove tarts from the pan, using a knife to ease them out. Serve at your leisure.