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Browned Butter Mini Pecan Pie Tarts

Browned Butter Mini Pecan Pie Tarts are a pecan lover’s dream with a pecan-studded, brown butter-based filling contained in a buttery cookie crust. Drizzle melted chocolate over the top for a candy-bar-like treat.

Since the tarts are small, and you don’t have to cut slices with a knife, portion-control is judiciously accomplished for you. Tailor-made for a party or Thanksgiving.

Mini pecan pie tart with drizzled chocolate on top

RECIPE NOTES


My dad used to say, “The higher they go, the farther they fall.”  He was typically referring to somebody super excited about something one minute and lower than a snake soon thereafter. That saying reminded me of the problem with these little pies.

While baking, a peek into the oven showed the filling reaching for the sky. I thought all was well.

Unfortunately, as my Mini Pecan Pie Tarts cooled and the filling deflated, they looked like an alien had nibbled out of the middle. Granted, the same thing happens to full-size pecan pies, too, but the effect is more pronounced in a small tart.

pecan mini-tarts with craters.jpg
This picture is for my friends who think everything I make turns out perfectly. NOT SO!

Just in time for Thanksgiving, I figured out a solution!!

RECIPE TIP

Browned Butter Pecan Mini-Tarts cut in half

Increasing the number of pecans provided the additional infrastructure that kept the soft filling from collapsing in the middle as it cooled.  

I learned this after observing the first tart shells I filled had more pecans. Consequently, they did not deflate as badly as the tarts filled last with fewer pecans and more of the sweet syrup mixture.

SILICONE MOLDS MAKE THE CRUSTS MUCH EASIER

If you have never made a tartlet crust before,  they can be a little tricky for beginners.

I highly recommend you put your hands on some silicone tart molds that are individual, not connected like muffin pans. They are much easier to manipulate.

silicone molds for the crust

As I was saying, practice ahead of time. Tart shells are best made ahead anyway and should be stored in the freezer.

If you are a visual learner, check out the picture tutorial on this post for Pumpkin Pie Mini-Tarts. You can also use commercial tart crusts if you can find them. Commercial tart sizes vary widely.

ANOTHER USE FOR THE SILICONE MOLDS

If you have or buy these silicone molds, try putting that extra egg white(s) or egg yolk(s) in one of these molds. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze.

When frozen, pop the egg white into a plastic bag and store in the freezer until needed. Beats freezing them in an ice cube tray all day long (or saving them in the fridge where they don’t stay fresh for long.)

HOW TO SHAPE SHORTBREAD CRUSTS

You may notice I’m wearing exam gloves. I always wear gloves when I make any kind of pie crust or flaky biscuits. They protect the dough by providing a barrier between my body heat and the tiny flakes of butter. Of course, you can make the crusts without them, but work fast so as not to warm the dough.

Shaping dough into a cylinder
Form dough into a cylinder.
slicing the dough into individual slices
Slice roll into 15-16 equally-sized discs.
preparing the dough to roll out
Lay one slice in the middle of a piece of plastic wrap. Cover with another piece of plastic wrap.
rolling out the dough with a rolling pin
Use a rolling pin to flatten the dough until the circumference is about 1/2 to 3/4 inch greater than the circumference of your tart cup. Lay the tart cup upside down on top of it to check.
pulling the plastic wrap off of the top of the dough
Peel plastic wrap off of the top.
pulling the plastic wrap off the bottom of the dough
Flip the flattened disc of dough and remove the remaining layer of plastic wrap.
pushing the dough into the mold
Press dough into the silicone mold with your fingers. If it tears, “squish” it back together. It it pleats, use your fingers to press the excess dough down smooth.
molding the dough to the crust
The goal is uniform thickness throughout so it will bake evenly.
Pumpkin PIe Mini-Tarts-making the crust
Trim crust with a sharp knife to make a smooth edge. Place the finished cup in the freezer until hard
Pumpkin PIe Mini-Tarts-making the crust
To keep the crust from bubbling up in the middle, cut aluminum foil (preferably non-stick) into small squares. Use fingers to mold the foil to the inside of the tart (there’s a tart crust underneath her thumb) making sure the top edge is also covered. It will help to prevent over-browning.

MORE RECIPES FOR PIE LOVERS


Did you try this recipe and enjoy it? Consider helping other readers (and me) by returning to this post. Leave a rating on the recipe card itself underneath the picture. Although always appreciated, comments aren’t required.

If you have a question or tip to share, please leave it in the regular comments after the recipe so I can answer back. Or, email me privately: paula at saladinajar.com.

Thank you for visiting!
Paula

Browned Butter Pecan Mini-Tarts

Browned Butter Pecan Mini-Tarts

Yield: 14 tarts
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes

Browned butter provides the base for this pecan-lover's dream dessert.

Ingredients

Tart Crust:

  • 1-1/2 cups unbleached flour
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), chilled
  • 1 egg yolk (from a large egg)
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream or half and half
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup corn syrup such as Karo(not the same as high fructose corn syrup)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Lemon juice from half a small lemon
  • 3 eggs, mixed with a fork
  • 1-2/3 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 15 unbaked and frozen tart shells

Instructions

Crust:

  1. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in food processor. Cut butter into 8 slices and add to flour, pulsing several times until mixture resembles oatmeal. Add egg yolk mixed with cream. Pulse until all ingredients are moistened. Then allow machine to run a few seconds until dough starts to stick together. (Add additional drops of cream if dough seems too dry.) Press dough into a roll like refrigerated cookie dough. Wrap in plastic and chill 30 minutes.
  2. Spray molds generously with Baker's Secret or something like it. (Baker's Secret is an aerosol spray that mixes flour and oil.) If using silicone molds, no greasing is necessary.
  3. Slice roll of dough into 15-16 pieces. Using a rolling pin, flatten dough between two pieces of plastic wrap into a circle slightly larger than tart molds. Press into mold with fingers, being careful to keep thickness consistent. Use a knife to trim off any extra at the top. I usually have enough scraps to make another tart or two. Freeze for at least 30 minutes, overnight, or up to a month.

Pecan Filling:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Brown butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. This will take a few minutes. You don't have to stir it constantly but you must keep an eye on it. Pull off the heat when butter starts to turn brown and gives off an amazing aroma. You'll know it when you smell it.
  3. Stir sugar into hot butter until it dissolves. Add corn syrup, salt, vanilla, and lemon juice and stir. Then add eggs and whisk gently into butter mixture until combined and smooth. Add pecans.
  4. Pour about 1/4 cup of filling into each unbaked, frozen tart shell.
  5. Bake in oven at 375 degrees until browned and set. Mine take about 25 minutes but time may vary depending on the size of your tarts.

Decorating with Chocolate (optional):

  1. Place 1/4 cup semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips in a small zippered plastic bag. Microwave on HIGH for 1 minute, 15 seconds or until melted. Snip off the tiniest corner of the bag. Squeeze chocolate out of the hole over the pie in the design of your choice. If you want to squirt the leftover chocolate in your mouth, go ahead. It's our secret.

Recommended Products

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 14 Serving Size: 1 mini-tart
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 417Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 93mgSodium: 218mgCarbohydrates: 45gFiber: 2gSugar: 30gProtein: 5g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

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Suzanne

Sunday 16th of November 2014

I like the tip here on the pecan mini tarts with more nuts in each one. I'm also thinking of making mini tarts for all my favorite pies that way I get a little bit of everything in a smaller bit!

sis

Monday 10th of November 2014

Just an "interested why" question. Why the lemon juice?

Paula

Wednesday 12th of November 2014

Cuts the sweetness a touch and makes the whole pie sing a bit. :-)

judy jursch

Sunday 9th of November 2014

Is the Karo syrup in the recipe the light colored or the dark colored? I have seen both. Thank you..this recipe looks amazing!

Paula

Sunday 9th of November 2014

Good question! I always use light.