Sometimes called pecan tassies, these bite-size pecan pie cookies combine white chocolate custard with a pecan crumble crust for a decadent twist on a classic American dessert.
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Pecan Pie Cookies (or Pecan Tassies)
These miniature pecan pie cookies are one of my new favorite treats. A delicious cross between a pie, a cookie, and a cake, these bite-size desserts break the mold. I might not know what exactly to call them, but I can tell you one thing: They make for a delicious dessert on their own and a perfect addition to any assortment of holiday cookies.
Inspired by one of my favorite pecan pie recipes from Vivian Howard’s cookbook, the recipe consists of two parts – a filling and a crumble. The filling is a luscious custard of melted white chocolate, cream, and brown sugar, with just a touch of bourbon for balance and kick. Finely chopped pecans, flour, and brown sugar make up the crumble, used to make both an outer crumb crust and crunchy streusel topping. Packed into mini muffin tins, the two components bake together seamlessly in the oven. The end result is a satisfyingly dense treat that both travels and freezes well, making it perfect for gifting to friends and family..
America’s Native Nut
I haven’t had a chance to do a full deep dive on the subject, but while working on this recipe I stumbled on some interesting facts about the main ingredient. As a food nerd, I find the story of the pecan fascinating. The nuts are native to North America, and were propagated by local indigenous people long before the arrival of European settlers. The name is derived from the French word pacane, which in turn is taken from the Algonquian word for “nut.” I might need to add this book on the history of pecans to my reading list.
Mini Pecan Pie Cookies with Bourbon & White Chocolate
Bite-size pecan pie cookies combine white chocolate custard and a pecan crumble crust for a decadent twist on an American classic.
White Chocolate Custard
- 1 cup white chocolate chips
- 8 tablespoons butter, divided
- 4 eggs
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup bourbon
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 2/3 cup flour
- 2 cups pecan halves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup pecans, crushed or chopped small
- 2 tablespoon butter, chilled
- 1 tablespoon water
Make the Custard:
Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler over medium low heat. Stir in 6 tablespoons of butter until smooth (reserve the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter for greasing the muffin tins). Carefully remove from heat.
In a heavy saucepan, whisk eggs by hand until frothy. Beat in the sugar, then the white chocolate mixture. Heat the filling over medium heat until the edges just start to form bubbles, but do not let the mixture boil. Remove from heat and whisk in the heavy cream and bourbon until smooth.
In large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and nutmeg. Fold the chocolate-egg mixture into the dry mixture. Stir the pecan halves into the filling until fully coated. Set aside.
Make the Crumble:
Stir together the flour, sugar, and crushed pecans. Using a pastry cutter (or butter knife), cut the chilled butter into the dry ingredients until it takes on a pebbly texture (I always end up using my fingers to break up the butter throughout the mixture). Stir in the water until evenly incorporated.
Prepare and Bake the Pecan Pie Cookies:
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Use the remaining 2 tablespoons butter from the custard to grease all the cups of two mini muffin trays.
Press 1-2 teaspoons of the crumble firmly into each muffin cup, spreading the mixture out in a very thin layer. It should completely cover the bottom of each cup and then be pressed up along the sides. This will form a miniature pie crust.
You should have at least half a cup left over to be used as streusel.
Top each crust with a tablespoon of the custard and at least one of the coated pecan halves (if you make sure the pecan is placed near the top, it should “float” for an aesthetically pleasing look. This is not required though). Sprinkle a bit of the remaining crumble mixture on top.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until the filling is set and the streusel is golden. Let sit 10 minutes to cool, and then remove the pecan pie cookies from the muffin trays. They should release easily due the amount of butter, but you may need to slide a butter knife along the edges to get them to pop out.
Store at room temperature and eat within 3 days, or freeze and eat within 3 months.
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