Tick tock. Tick tock. Tick tock. There goes the internal clock in my head. Do you ever wake up to pee in the middle of the night, go back to bed, and the dreaded action happens--you rub your eyes??? Then, you cannot fall back asleep. At 4:33am this morning, that occurred to me and up I've been ever since. Because I fell asleep early last night (by 10pm), my body feels that I've received enough sleep. "Body, how can you be so wrong? Do you know I still have hours of sleep debt from last week to make up??!?!" I've already practiced some yoga, gone to the gym for the workout, and done some homework. Seriously???
All this aside, while trying to fall back asleep earlier, of course the wheels in my head are spinning and April 6th kept bothering me. "Something is going on today," I thought. I know it wasn't just my Sephora discount ending tonight or one of my former classmate's birthday. It's not that there's Open Lab today for me to study up on muscles, neurons, glands, and eyeball parts. No, something important. So, I went onto my website to check and yes, it is--it's my second anniversary for the creation of The Chef Doc :-) Another year has flown by and what a year it has been. I graduated from UC Irvine. I'm pursuing my M.S. in Nutritional Science. I'm creating lots of scrumptious dishes and treats. I'm currently earning A's in all my classes. I can't complain about life too much right now.
So, I thought, "What is worthy of a second anniversary post?" and an a-ha! moment occurred. You'll love me for posting about these babies: PECAN TARTLETS. Oh yes, these will rock your world. They're so good! I created them last week for a baby shower that I catered and I had to make them again two nights ago because they're just so darn good and well, it'd be a travesty to not share the recipe with you.
The crust is absolutely smashing because it's the same one that I use for my Best. Chicken. Pot. Pie. Ever. I only decrease the salt a smidge because I like to have that savory (not very salty) crust paired with the sweet and nutty mixture in the middle. And it's sweetened with regular sugars; there is no corn syrup in this. Apparently, pecan pie is a corn syrup sort of thing. Maybe that's why I never liked it. I tell you--the stuff I'm learning in my Food Science class is really helping think differently about how I create my recipes. When you learn about how carbohydrates and proteins work at the molecular level, how things bind together... you expand your knowledge on what you're doing in the kitchen.
Anyway... Heaven! I don't really know what to say except these things are absolute fabulosity. And the size? You know me and miniature. They're the perfect bite (or two). Although they take more time and energy to make, I think the people who will consume will appreciate the size and all the love that was put into making them. And, I think it's much better than having a big slice of pie which you'll more than likely get sick of by the time you get to the crust at the back.
These pecan tartlets will satisfy any craving and will be a total hit at your next party. Because they're so small (a mini muffin pan is needed), you'll make a lot with just one batch of filling; I made 108 this most recent time. But, dude, those 108 that I made are almost gone! I brought a bunch to school yesterday for my class as well as at least seven different teachers. They were all very happy to receive a special treat.
As always, from me, they're very simple to make and can even be done one to two days ahead of time. Just keep them in an airtight container or a Ziploc bag. So, weekend project? Here you go! Happy Blogoversary to The Chef Doc!
Hester's Pecan Tartlets
Yield: approximately nine dozen (108)
- 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans (I don't find a dire need to toast them)
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted and slightly cooled
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 tablespoon whole milk (or heavy cream or half and half but no reduced fat stuff here)
- 2 rounds of pie crust dough
- 1 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 10 1/2 tablespoons super-chilled butter, cubed (1 stick + 2 1/2 tablespoons)
- 1/3 cup ice cold water
1. For the pie dough, combine the flour and salt in a food processor and pulse to mix. Then, add your super cold cubed butter. Pulse until they're a little bigger than the size of peas. Then, add your ice cold water and process until a dough ball forms. Remove and pat into a disc and wrap it up with plastic wrap. Refrigerate it for at least one hour/60 minutes. Make two of these.
2. When you're ready to start making the tartlets, remove the dough balls from the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 375F.
3. First, in a small sauce pot, melt your butter and then let it cool a little. In a bowl, whisk up your eggs till they're super frothy (about five minutes). Then, whisk in your sugars.
4. Whisk in your slightly cooled melted butter (do not scramble your eggs) and then add the milk and flour. Next, add your vanilla extract and then finally, your pecans. Mix it all up and set it aside.
5. Grab your non-stick mini muffin tin(s). No need to grease these babies as the butter in the crust will definitely prevent any sticking from occurring.
6. By now, your dough should have softened up to work with on a large, flat surface. Roll it out to 1/8" to 1/4" thickness. Use a 2" cutter to make your rounds and place them on a plate. Re-roll the dough once or twice at the most to get more rounds. **As you continuously work your dough with the rolling pin, you are developing the gluten network and will produce a tougher crust, which we don't want. Keep it soft and flaky, people. This isn't bread that we're making here.**
7. Fit your little rounds into the muffin tin (stretching them a little is okay) and push them into the edges, making sure they are secure. Those rounds that aren't being used yet can be put back in the fridge to keep the butter cold.
8. Stir around your filling mixture. Using a TEASPOON measure, place one teaspoon of filling into each little crust cup. I kid you not--one teaspoon is all you need! Depending on how high up you made your cup, it might even be a little too much.
9. Bake in the oven for 14 to 16 minutes. Fourteen will get you a slight browning but keep the middle a touch gooey and chewy; this is a good time :-) Sixteen minutes will cook your crust a little longer and therefore, make it a little harder and also cook the inside a little more. But, it's still good.
10. When they're ready, remove the tartlets from the oven and using a spoon, remove them from the tin and place them on a wire rack to cool.
11. They can be eaten warm or at room temperature. Trust me--they're not going to last long.
|Chop chop chop. After experimenting with quantities, I've found that 1 1/2 cups of chopped pecans is the perfect amount to give you a good ratio of nut to gooey-ness in the tartlet.|
|Whisk till frothy.|
|Add your sugars.|
|Sugar, butter, and eggs... you know this is going to be good.|
|Add your milk and flour.|
|Oh, what a sight! Add the vanilla extract in before you add the pecans.|
|All ready to go.|
|Dough #1. You can roll out both doughs at the same time and refrigerate all your pie crust rounds or you can roll out your second ball later, while you're in-between bakings. Trust me--you'll have many batches to bake.|
|I love the recipe for this dough. Look how beautifully it rolls out!|
|Yup, lots of tartlets are going to be made.|
|Fit one round into each cup.|
|Yes, that is ONE teaspoon. FYI--it poofs up when baking so, don't try to get greedy and add more filling. I share recipes with you after my own trials and errors :-)|
|AND, if it spills out, it burns against the pan. Not a biggie.|
|I can hear you exclaiming, "Oh my!"|
|So cute and small. But don't let the size fool you--they are packed with flavor and love!|