When I started this blog, I mentioned my mother first among those who inspired my love of cooking and sharing. She was a master at both, and unanimously admired for her skills and generosity. Awaking moments ago from a lazy Saturday afternoon nap, winter still in the atmosphere despite the spring date of our calendar, my mother’s miniature pecan tartlets sprang forth from one of those tiny cubicles deeply tucked away for safekeeping in the vaults of memory.
No family gathering was complete without Jennie’s anticipated platter of baked goods – rugelach, strudel, anything made with raised dough, or what she called her pecan tassies. I spent countless joyous hours watching her prepare her doughs (often with cream cheese), her fillings, the toppings and mixtures of sugar and cinnamon for that finishing touch. It was during my 8th grade year at Girls Latin School – not known whatsoever for teaching homemaking skills, but rather for pounding the classics of literature, dead languages, and math skills into our brains for eventual admission into the best colleges – that our school magazine, the Jabberwock, sponsored a bake-off, of all things.
Upon sharing this news with mum, she knew on the spot that she had to teach me her pecan tassies. And while I no longer have her exact recipe nor a photo of same, I think I’ve found an excellent replica on the web. The ingredients list, check. The image, check. I’ll have to try these again after the decades since I made them that one time, and won first prize in the GLS bake-off.
JENNIE BLOOM’S MINIATURE PECAN TARTLETS
(or a very close facsimile thereof)
1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature, plus one T unsalted butter melted, plus a bit more for greasing the tartlet tin
3 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 extra large egg
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
Beat the butter and cream cheese together in a stand mixer until smooth. Add flour and beat until fully combined. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for about an hour.
Preheat oven to 325 and lightly grease a 24-cup mini-muffin pan with butter (or, what was not available back then, cooking spray).
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the melted butter, egg, brown sugar, vanilla and salt until smooth. Set aside.
Shape the chilled dough into 24 balls about 1″ in diameter and press each one into a cup of the mini-muffin pan, spreading it evenly and up the sides. Spoon 1 tsp of the pecans into each tart cup and then fill each one with the egg mixture until evenly distributed, about a tsp each. Bake until the filling is set, about 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes and remove them from the pan.
NOTE: I’m going to make these again soon – once I get the requisite mini-muffin pan – and if they don’t taste just as I remembered, I will rework this recipe until they do, and upload the result!
March 27: Just took these out of the oven and they’re cooling in the dining room for safekeeping, away from the kitties. Tasted one – exactly as I remembered!