Sweet Chocolate Pecan Filling Recipe for Shortbread Mini Tarts

Sneak Preview: These mini tarts are filled with a sweet chocolate pecan filling. A recipe for the BEST Shortbread Crust is also included. After baking, drizzle melted chocolate or the top for a candy-bar-like treat.

Chocolate pecan tartlets on a plate with a fork on the side.Pin

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How do you cut a piece of pecan pie for that person who wants “just a sliver?” Doing so usually makes a small mess. I know because I am that person who only wants a taste.

Three Reasons Why You Will Appreciate This Recipe

  1. Portion control is automatic when you serve tartlets.
  2. Festive enough for parties, buffets, and holiday celebrations. (These almost always show up at our family Thanksgiving dinners.)
  3. Leave the chocolate off if you don’t want to mess with it. However, the chocolate drizzle transforms these mini-tarts into an irresistible experience.

How To Avoid a Crater in Your Pecan Tartlets

My dad used to say, “The higher they go, the farther they fall.”  He typically referred to somebody super excited about something one minute and lower than a snake soon after that. That saying reminded me of the problem I had 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 Chocolate Pecan Tarts cooled and the filling deflated, they looked like an alien had nibbled out of the middle. Of course, the same thing happens to a full-size classic pecan pie, but the effect is more pronounced in a petite tart.

pecan mini tarts with cratersPin
This picture is for my friends who think everything I make is perfect. NOT SO!

Problem solved!

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

cross section of pecan pie tartletPin

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 severely as the tarts filled later with fewer pecans and more sweet filling.

Why Silicone Molds Make the Crust 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(paid link) that are individual, not connected, like muffin pans or mini muffin tins. They are much easier to manipulate.

silicone molds for the crustPin

Practice ahead of time. Tart shells can be shaped in advance and stored in the freezer to be baked the day before you need them.

If you are a visual learner, check out the picture tutorial below. You can also use commercial tart crusts if you can find them. Commercial tart sizes vary widely, so the size you buy will affect the yield of this recipe.

📌Kitchen Tip📌Another Use for 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. Then, cover with plastic wrap and freeze.

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

Place one egg white in each silicone shell. Freeze. Peel the silicone mold off the frozen egg white and store it in a zippered plastic bag in the freezer. Thaw only as many whites as you need.

How To Shape Shortbread Tartlet Crusts

You may notice I’m wearing exam gloves. I always wear gloves when I make pie crusts 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 your hands won’t warm the dough.

Shaping dough into a cylinderPin
Form dough into a cylinder.
slicing the dough into individual slicesPin
Slice the roll into 15-16 equally-sized discs.
preparing the dough to roll outPin
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 pinPin
Use a rolling pin to flatten the dough until the circumference is about 1/2 to 3/4 inches greater than the circumference of your tart cup. Then, lay the tart cup upside down on top of it to check.
pulling the plastic wrap off of the top of the doughPin
Peel the plastic wrap off of the top.
pulling the plastic wrap off the bottom of the doughPin
Flip the flattened disc of dough and remove the remaining layer of plastic wrap.
pushing the dough into the moldPin
Press dough into the silicone mold with your fingers. If it tears, “squish” it back together. If it pleats, use your fingers to press the excess dough down smoothly.
molding the dough to the crustPin
The goal is uniform thickness throughout so that it will bake evenly.
trimming the crust of a tart shell with a knifePin
Trim the crust with a sharp knife to make a smooth edge. Place the finished cup in the freezer until firm.

How To Make the Sweet Pecan Filling (Also Good for Ready-Made Pastry Crusts)

Step 1: Preheat a conventional oven to 375˚F (180˚C).

Step 2: Use a medium-sized saucepan to brown the butter over low heat. The butter is ready when it turns golden brown and smells fragrant. If you see black specks, the solids in the butter have started to burn. Either strain out the solids (discard) or throw the butter out and start over.

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Step 3: Add the remaining ingredients in the order listed in the recipe. Whisk gently until the mixture is silky smooth.

Step 4: Carefully fill your unbaked frozen tart shells.

Step 5: Bake until tarts are browned and set. Times will vary depending on the size of your tart shells. After baking, set the tartlets on a wire rack to cool.

How To Drizzle Chocolate

showing how to make a chocolate drizzlePin

Step 1: Place chocolate chips in a small zippered plastic bag. Close.

Step 2: Microwave the chips on HIGH for 1 minute, 15 seconds, or until melted.

Step 3: Snip one corner to allow a small amount of chocolate to come out when you squeeze the bag. I always practice on a plate to ensure the chocolate is melted and the hole in the bag is the right size.

Step 4: Drizzle the chocolate over the tarts and allow them to cool. The chocolate drizzle is optional but very appealing.


How should I store baked tartlets?

Because they have eggs in them, they should be stored in the refrigerator inside an airtight container. However, they are best served at room temperature. Take them out of the fridge a couple of hours before you plan to eat them.

How do you keep the crust from sticking?

Use miniature silicone tart pans(paid link). This is the best solution. If you don’t have any, try spraying your tart molds with cooking spray.

One other suggestion: Make sure there are no breaks or leaks in the tart dough that would allow the filling to leak underneath.

Why do my tartlets have a dip or hole in the middle?

Use more chopped pecans to shore up the infrastructure. See a more detailed discussion of this issue in the post above.

Why are my tarts still jiggly?

These tartlets may be slightly jiggly when they are finished cooking but will firm up as they cool.

Can I freeze mini-tarts?

Yes. Double-wrap in a single layer or place parchment or waxed paper between the layers. Freeze for 1-2 months. Defrost before serving.

Closing Thoughts: Whether you call these mini-tarts, tartlets, mini pies, or small pies, they are easy to serve, fun to eat, and quite luxurious on your taste buds. My family loves them in place of a full-size pecan pie. If you like these mini pies, you might also like this these favorites: Mini Fruit Tarts Recipe with Pastry Cream and the BEST Shortbread Crust, Chocolate Ganache Mini Tarts, or these Lemon Mini-Tarts with a Shortbread Crust.

Help at Your Fingertips: For questions or suggestions, email Paula at saladinajar.com. If you need help, I’m happy to troubleshoot via email (faster than leaving a comment). Attach pictures and as many details as possible for the best advice.

pecan pie tartlet with chocolate drizzle and homemade crust with a fork on the sidePin
Yield: 14 tarts

Sweet Chocolate Pecan Filling Recipe for Shortbread Mini Tarts

Browned butter provides the base for this pecan lover’s dream dessert. You don’t have to make the crusts but this recipe for shortbread crusts makes them the BEST pecan tarts ever!

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Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 25 minutes
Chill Time: 2 hours
Total time: 3 hours 25 minutes


Tart Crust:

  • cups (180 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • cup (40 g) powdered sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon table or sea salt
  • ½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter, chilled
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream or half and half

Pecan Filling

  • ½ cup (113 g) butter
  • cup (133 g) sugar
  • ¾ cup (255 g) corn syrup such as Karo, not the same as high fructose corn syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon table or sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Lemon juice from half a small lemon
  • 3 eggs, mixed with a fork
  • 1⅔ cup (165 g) pecans, coarsely chopped and toasted
  • 15 unbaked and frozen tart shells

Chocolate Drizzle:

  • ¼ cup (45 g) semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips


Mini-tart crusts:

  • Combine 1½ cups (180 g) unbleached all-purpose flour, ⅓ cup (40 g) powdered sugar, and ¼ teaspoon table or sea salt in a food processor. Cut ½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter, chilled into 8 slices, and add to flour mixture, pulsing several times until mixture resembles oatmeal. Add 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon heavy cream or half and half. Pulse until all ingredients are moistened. Then, allow the machine to run for a few seconds until the dough sticks together. (Add additional drops of cream if the dough seems too dry.) Press dough into a roll like refrigerated cookie dough. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
  • 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.
  • Slice the 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 a mold with fingers, being careful to keep the 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:

  • Preheat oven to 375˚F (190˚C).
  • Brown ½ cup (113 g) 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 the butter starts to turn brown and gives off an amazing aroma. You’ll know it when you smell it.
  • Stir ⅔ cup (133 g) sugar into hot butter until it dissolves. Add ¾ cup (255 g) corn syrup , ¼ teaspoon table or sea salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and Lemon juice from half a small lemon and stir. Then add 3 eggs, mixed with a fork and whisk gently into the butter mixture until combined and smooth. Add 1⅔ cup (165 g) pecans, coarsely chopped and toasted.
  • Pour about 1/4 cup of filling into each 15 unbaked and frozen tart shells and place them on a rimmed baking sheet.
  • Bake in oven at 375˚F (190˚C) until browned and set. My mini tarts take about 25 minutes, but the time may vary depending on the size of your tarts.

Decorating with a Chocolate Drizzle (optional):

  • Place ¼ cup (45 g) 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.


Serving: 1mini-tart | Calories: 342kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 89mg | Sodium: 268mg | Potassium: 36mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 27g | Vitamin A: 492IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 2mg

All images and text ©️ Paula Rhodes for Salad in a Jar.com

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  1. I make this filling for my cream cheese dough that I cut fit into my tart molds. Filling is really delicious but mine flowed a little over the top of the dough so I guess next time I’ll either have to use a little less filling or make the edges of the dough a little higher. Really nice result though.

    1. Hi Jade,
      Thanks for taking the time to write. Because of the eggs, the pecan filling tends to puff up quite a bit. Now you’ll know for next time.

  2. 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!

  3. Just an “interested why” question. Why the lemon juice?

    1. Cuts the sweetness a touch and makes the whole pie sing a bit. 🙂

  4. judy jursch says:

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

    1. Good question! I always use light.