Pecan Tassies – a Farmer’s Favorite!

Mimi’s Pecan Tassies are definitely a favorite when it comes to choosing from my grandmother’s repertoire of family recipes. The recipe comes from her mother and their mothers before them. A “tassie” is a miniature pie shell filled with a pop of sweet goodness, such as a pecan pie filling.  Warm morsels in a perfectly simple dough, baked with a delicious filling, Pecan Tassies bring childhood memories into the forefront of my mind. 

Growing up, our Hawkinsville farm, much akin to the farms of those around us, was dotted with rows of pecan trees, forming a forest of orchards that yield cultivars of pecans in the late fall  and early winter such as ‘Desirable,’ ‘Schley’ and ‘Elliot.’ Each pecan has its own taste and flavor, and for Mimi’s Pecan Tassies, ‘Elliot’ pecans are often first choice. These buttery almost round pecans are small and make for the perfect filling for the tassie cups of dough. Karo syrup (I mix light and dark), brown sugar, eggs, good vanilla and butter round out the other ingredients, and with a combination like that, the already fantastic pecans are made divine. The perfect mix of complements -  sweet and salty, crunchy and soft – Mimi’s Pecan Tassies are truly delightful.  A bite size delicacy, these small packages are definitely good things. Cook’s hint: try salting your pecans for an added sweet-n-salty satisfaction!
The crust is very close to pie dough, but thicker and easier I think. What I love about this recipe is that it takes the fear out of dough making – making dough is easy! Master this recipe, Mimi says, and you’ll be able to entertain and serve your guests something very elegant with confidence and ease; especially since this dough can be used for not only tarts, but pot pies, shortbreads, and other perennial Southern tassies. Lemon, Peach, and Plum Tassies, Coconut Tassies, Chocolate Tassies, Vanilla Crème Tassies – the list goes on! But for this Farmer, Mimi’s Pecan Tassies will remain a dessert darling. 

Mimi, and Mrs. Mary too, always had me to think about what is in season – what is absolutely best right now – and use that. Hyper-seasonal… a fruit per say is at its ripest, it’s very best, the flavors are the supreme… they will be and need little else to make it table worthy. So if blackberries or plums or dewberries were in season, that’s the type of tassie we’d have! Take the freshest and finest of fruits and use them with the easiest of dough, and your guests will surely be pleased to have been at your table.

Some of the finest meals I have ever experienced – which is how a meal should be taken in, as an experience – are not so much an elaborate production, but more so of a presentation of the season's best offerings, simply prepared and seasoned. A meal of the freshest cuts of meat from our local butcher, vegetables and fruits direct from the farm or garden, and a simple dessert of classic ingredients makes for the most delightful of times to break bread. From this Farmer’s pecan trees, kitchen, and Mimi, I hope you make tassies your dessert de rigueur.

Pecan Tassies

**I follow the Karo syrup pecan pie recipe for the pecan filling. It is a classic Southern staple. Use chopped pecans and somewhat undercook for chewier or softer tassies... brown for crunchy tassies.

Tassie Dough, Two Ways

  • 2 Cups of all purpose flour OR
  • 1 ½ cups of all purpose flour and ½ cup of pecan meal
  • 1 ½ sticks of butter, salted
  • ½ a cup of ice water to “bring together”
  • Tablespoon of vanilla sugar (insert leftover or scraped vanilla pods into a sugar canister and the essences will combine)
  • Teaspoon of good vanilla
Cut or fold cubed butter into the flour in a large bowl.
Add vanilla and vanilla sugar to the mix.
Use electric beater or paddle attachment to bring together, adding ice water as needed to help “ball”  up the dough.
When dough has formed a ball or is malleable to form a ball, pat into a disc and chill for at least 30 minutes or up to a week.
Roll dough out into thin sheet and line greased muffin tins with dough and fill with pie filing of choice.

Bake at 350 until golden brown…about 25-30 minutes. Watch so pecans don’t burn.
Serve with Vanilla Bean Crème Fraiche! Enjoy!

Lemon Curd Tassies

Fill the above tassie dough cups with this lemon curd filling for a sweet citrus treat!
  • 1 block of softened cream cheese
  • 15 ounces of ricotta cheese
  • Teaspoon of good vanilla
  • ¼ cup of powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of fine salt
  • 1 jar of Dickinson’s Lemon Curd
  • 1 cup of candied lemon rind

Blend the above ingredients together and fill tassie dough cups AFTER you’ve baked them until firm and golden, about 20 minutes at 350.  Enjoy!