Miniature food isn’t always tastier than regular-sized food, but it’s almost always cuter. Evidence? Tiny hamsters eating tiny burritos.
But this post isn’t about adorableness. This is about pecan pie.
In my experience, pecan pie is frequently relegated to Thanksgiving or Christmas, and not enjoyed year-round. That is a travesty, really, because the combination of pecans, gooey brown sugar filling and buttery, flaky crust is too good to be limited to months ending in -er.
Thank goodness someone in my family (no one can quite remember who) found this recipe somewhere (no one remembers where, either) years ago and my mother, aunts and grandmother have produced approximately a trillion of these teeny, tiny, delicious bites of awesome since. They’re perfect for any time of year, because they’re not too heavy or filling. You can choose to eat just one… or 10. Up to you.
They’re also pretty easy to make, though the smooshing of dough into mini-muffin pans is a bit challenging if you have long fingernails (oops). The recipe can be doubled or tripled or even quadrupled, but keep in mind you have to hand-form the crusts for every single pie. So, two dozen is probably plenty.
They’re great for a crowd, or for just a few pecan pie-loving friends. Plus, of course, they’re totes adorbs.
Tiny pecan pies (Makes 2 dozen. Adapted from the version in my grandmother’s cookbook)
3 ounces cream cheese, set out at room temperature for at least 30 minutes
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, set out at room temperature for at least 30 minutes (also set out 1 tablespoon extra for filling)
1 cup all-purpose flour
Use a hand-held mixer to beat the cream cheese and butter together in a small bowl. Add the flour and mix well (you should probably start on low speed so you don’t get flour everywhere). Chill the dough for 30 minutes to an hour (make the filling before you remove it from the fridge), then roll it into 24 small balls and place each in the cup of a lightly greased mini-muffin tin. Use your fingers to shape each into a crust.
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (set out at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to soften)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
2/3 cup chopped pecans
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Use a hand-held mixer or a whisk to mix everything together until the mixture is smooth.
Once the crusts are ready, layer 1/2 teaspoon pecans, 1 1/2 teaspoons filling and 1/2 teaspoon pecans in each tiny crust. If you have filling and/or pecans left over, distribute it as evenly as you can among the pies.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until the filling is set. Allow to cool for just a few minutes, then remove from pan and allow to cool before storing in an air-tight container.
Note: I didn’t grease my mini-muffin pans, so I had a hard time getting mine out. I turned the whole muffin pan upside down over the container I was planning on storing them in and gave the bottom of the pan a whack, which dislodged most of them. But I had to use a fork for the rest of them, which is a bit tricky. Greasing the pans should help you avoid this issue.