I remember the year I thought I would save Gram a ton of time in the kitchen. One day I asked how she made those little tarts and she said she just used her thumb to press the hole in the center, then filled the indention with pecan filling. Well, it just so happened that I knew of a little gadget that was made especially for that, so I purchased it for her for Christmas that year.
Well, if any of you have grandma’s who have made Christmas treats the same way for 40+ years, you know it’s no use trying to change their perfected techniques. Gram was very polite about it, but matter-of-factly, she told me her way worked a heck of a lot better than that little wooden gadget I bought for her. So, needless to say, when I’m making these little pecan pastries at Christmas time, I don’t use a gadget. I use my thumb. Just like Gram used to do.
December 27th, 2011
1 8 oz. pkg. of Philadelphia Cream Cheese
¾ cup butter
1 & 2/3 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
¾ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla or vanilla bean paste
dash of salt
2/3 cups coarsely broken pecans
Let the cream cheese and butter soften at room temperature. Once soft, blend together with a wooden spoon or rubber scrapper. Stir in the flour and salt. Continue stirring until all the flour is absorbed. Chill for 30 minutes. Shape pastry into 44 one-inch balls. (I used my smallest cookie scoop, which made it go very fast.) Place in ungreased, miniature muffin tins. Press dough with thumb around the edges and bottom until evenly covered. Make sure to spread dough up to the edge of the muffin cup. This helps prevent sticking when the pecan mixture boils up.
Beat together the egg, sugar, butter, vanilla and salt until just smooth. Divide half of the pecans among pastry-lined cups. Add 1 teaspoon of egg mixture and top with remaining pecans. Bake in a 325° oven for 25 minutes or until filling is set.
Cool and remove from pans. Makes 44 tassies.