I'm so happy to be a guest blogger on Centsational Girl's blog this week. Kate has the most wonderful DIY blog - such a creative homemaker. Her before and after transformations are truly amazing!!
On to my Mini Pecan Tarts. I developed this recipe specifically for this guest blogging event. I'm a little OCD in the kitchen, so I tweaked and fussed and researched for what seemed like forever before I was satisfied with the finished recipe. Let me tell you, I have a whole new appreciation for cookbook authors after this little project! Anyway, the family absolutely devoured these little treasures, so I guess that means they turned out well. Let me know if you give them a try!
To begin the recipe, let's make this very easy crust. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine room temperature butter and cream cheese; blend using the flat beater attachment (or better yet, use the fabulous BeaterBlade!). When butter and cream cheese are combined, add salt, cocoa, and flour; combine. Dough will be soft, but easy to handle.
Spray a mini muffin pan with an oil/flour baking spray (wipe excess spray off the top of your mini muffin pan). Roll dough into 24 balls and place into muffin pan. Refrigerate for 15-2o minutes, or until it firms up enough to not be too sticky to press it into place.
Press dough into muffin indentations using your fingers or a pastry tool dipped in flour. Pop the dough back into the fridge while making the filling.
Combine butter, cane syrup (or corn syrup), salt, and confectioner's sugar in heavy bottomed sauce pan over med-high heat. Bring to a boil and cook for one full minute. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Transfer hot sugar mixture to a glass measure and pour or spoon mix into prepared pan, being very careful to not fill them more than 3/4 full (if you do, you'll have a hot, bubbly mess on your hands).
No matter how hard you try, you'll probably have some filling bubble over the sides of the tarts during baking. If this happens to you, you can easily trim away any excess caramel with a pair of kitchen scissors. Allow the tarts tarts to finish cooling while we make the glazed pecans and Mascarpone frosting.
Okay, let's do the glazed pecans first (incidentally, you can do this with just about any kind of nut). Have you ever tasted Lyle's Golden Syrup? It's a sugar cane syrup that has the most wonderful caramel flavor and color. Look for it in your baking aisle. If you can't find it... you can easily substitute corn syrup.
In a heat proof bowl, mix the granulated sugar and sugar cane syrup together. Microwave on high for 10-20 seconds until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is very liquidy. Quickly pour over nuts and toss to coat.
Place the nuts in a single layer on a silicone baking mat and toss them into the oven for 15 minutes; tossing once half way through the baking.
Use a fork to separate glazed nuts after they're removed from the oven. Allow to cool completely before using. Can be made a day or two ahead and stored in an airtight container.
For the Mascarpone frosting, combine room temperature Mascarpone cheese, confectioner's sugar, and vanilla extract by hand. Pipe swirls of the frosting on tarts that have been allowed to cool completely; refrigerate. Just before serving, top with glazed nut and serve immediately.
Mini Pecan Tarts Topped with Mascarpone Frosting and Glazed Pecans
makes 24 tarts
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
pinch of fine sea salt
1 tablespoon cocoa powder for color (optional)
In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the flat beater, combine the butter and cream cheese. Slowly add the salt, confectioner's sugar, flour, and optional cocoa powder; combine. Divide into 24 equal portions, roll into ball shape; place in a greased mini muffin pan. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes before pressing dough into the mini muffin cups using fingers or a pastry tool dipped in flour. Refrigerate while making the filling.
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup Lyle's Golden Syrup (or corn syrup)
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350F. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, combine everything but the vanilla extract. Bring to a boil for one full minute. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour mixture into prepared pastry, filling no more than 3/4 full. Place mini muffin pan on a larger sheet pan to catch any drips that might spill over. Bake at 350F for 25 minutes. Allow tarts to cool in pan for 25 minutes before removing. Trim excess caramel with kitchen scissors if needed (while the caramel is still pliable).
8 ounces Mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar (or to taste)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Mix ingredients together by hand. Pipe or spoon onto completely cool tarts. Refrigerate. Don't add the glaze pecans until serving time.
1/2 cup pecans
1 tablespoon Lyle's Golden Syrup (or corn syrup)
1 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
pinch of fine sea salt
Preheat oven to 325F. Combine sugar cane syrup, salt, and granulated sugar in a heat safe bowl and microwave on high for 10-20 seconds until sugar dissolves and mixture is very liquidy. Immediately pour over nuts and stir to combine. Place nuts in a single layer on a silicone lined sheet pan (greased foil or non-stick foil will also work). Bake nuts for 15 minutes, tossing half way through baking. Remove nuts from the oven and use a fork to separate them from one another; cool completely. Can be made up to 2 days in advance. Store in an airtight container. Top tarts with glazed pecans just before service, otherwise the glaze will start to melt into the Mascarpone frosting.
Happy Baking, Roasting, and Hosting!!!