Tuesday, December 15, 2009
My personal opinion of these bite-sized pecan pies drizzled with chocolate ganache is that they are little bites of heaven. No special story on these, they are one of the goodies that joined an impressive assortment of treats that my mom, sisters, and I would assemble on trays to deliver each year at Christmastime during my upbringing in the farmland of Northern Indiana. With 4 women in our house baking, we'd each take 2 or 3 (or 4) recipes and in the two days after school let out for winter break, we'd cover our whole dining room table with buried-cherry cookies, date balls, Mexican wedding cakes, creme de menthe bars, bags of caramel corn and crazy candy hash, and these little pecan tarts (among other treats). We arranged them on trays or in boxes lined with festive tissue paper to deliver to friends and neighbors and spread some holiday cheer. Sometimes we'd even go carolling as we dropped them off. I loved doing this. It was all very Norman Rockwell-esque.
When I made these last Friday, I added my own twist to our traditional recipe by adding a chocolate ganache drizzle. Whoa! It was an excellent addition to an already delicious treat. Thank goodness I gave away all but 3 of these little treats. There are only so many squats, lunges, and sit-ups that I can endure to compensate for my lack of self control!
To make the shell for the tarts, just cream together a stick of softened butter and 3 oz. of cream cheese.
Add a cup of flour.
Cut the butter mixture into the flour until it looks like this:
I kneaded mine in the bowl a little until it all stuck together and I could form it into a ball. Then I covered it and moved it to the fridge to chill for a bit.
Divide the dough into 24 pieces and shape into balls. Drop them into mini tart or mini muffin cups.
The next step is my favorite part! This Norpro Wood Tart Tamper 6 1/4" makes this step so easy!
Dip the tamper into some flour so that the dough doesn't stick and then press into the center of each ball of dough.
Applying slow and constant pressure, press down until the dough forms around the tamper and comes up to the top of the tart cups.
And voila! A perfect miniature pie shell!
Now sprinkle some finely chopped (nearly ground) pecans into the bottom of each shell. I've never measured, but I'd guess that I use around 1/2 teaspoon.
To make the filling, combine brown sugar, eggs, very soft or melted butter, vanilla, and a pinch of salt.
Spoon the filling into each cup, over the pecans. Leave a little room at the top for...
more pecans! Give em' a good sprinkling.
This is where my picture tutorial ends. I had pictures of these coming out of the oven, cooling, and being drizzled with the ganache. However, in my haste to make space on my camera's memory stick for my daughter's school Christmas show, I deleted them. Ooops. Here is what I did: I baked em'. I removed em' from the oven and cooled in the pan for 5 minutes or so. Then I ran a butter knife around the edges of each tart to loosen em' up and then carefully lifted them onto a cooling rack. Finally, I drizzled them with a little chocolate ganache.
At least I got a picture of the finished product before I served some to the moms that attended my daughter's cookie decorating party. I also took some to my parenting group Christmas party the next day, and then I put the remainder into a pretty little tin and delivered them to a neighbor. Like I said, I can only do so many crunches to compensate... I had to get these out of my house!
Miniature Pecan Tarts
For the shells:
1 (3 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
1/4 lb. butter
1 c. flour
Cream together butter and cheese. Cut in flour. Knead in the bowl, just enough so that the dough sticks together and can be formed into a ball. Cover and chill for 30 minutes. Form into 24 balls. Place 1 ball of dough in each mini tart cup and press into shape.
1 cup finely chopped or ground pecans
Put 1/2 - 1 teaspoon pecans into the bottom of each tart shell, reserving the rest.
For the filling:
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
Combine filling ingredients. Fill shells 3/4 full of filling and sprinkle more pecans on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes in pan. Loosen tarts with a knife and remove to cooling rack. Drizzle.
1/2 cup chocolate chips
2-4 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
Melt chocolate with whipping cream in a small bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir until smooth. If additional melting is needed, heat at 10 second intervals, stirring after each. Add more cream as needed to achieve desire drizzling consistency.