If you like gooey combined with slightly chewy all inside a tiny nest of flaky pastry, you must learn the way of the pecan tossie. Or tassie. I acknowledge both spellings and pronunciations that refer to this Christmas cookie-pecan pie hybrid that has become my holiday cookie superstar. It claims the middle of the cookie platter I serve for dessert after our Christmas dinner and gets boxed and wrapped for many gifts. Tossies are rich, delicious, a little bit fancy and more work than a Christmas cookie should require.
But once a year, I’ll go the extra mile. The recipe is a tried and true hand-me-down from my Nana, Martha Roberts, who was without question the family’s best baker. Cakes, quick breads, cookies. She did it all and did it superbly. In other words, you can count on the source.
The recipe has two parts–the crust and the filling. And yes, it’s the crust that you’ll need to master in order to become a tossie queen yourself. Although I don’t remember being in the kitchen when Nana made these, during the past 25 years or so I’ve developed my own little techniques and tricks that make tossie assembly and removal from the pan a lot easier than it was in the beginning. Remember to keep the dough cool when handling and don’t rush the last part. Let these little pecan pies cool a bit in the pan before you begin jabbing them with a knife. Be gentle. Be delicate. Don’t break the flake.
Martha Roberts’s Pecan Tossies
1 stick butter
1 cup flour
Mix together until ingredients are blended and form a soft ball of dough. Refrigerate for several hours.
The dough is easier to handle when cool, and I sometimes make the dough days in advance. I allow the dough to sit at room temp for 1-2 hours before handling and forming into crusts. If the dough becomes too soft it will be impossible to mold into the mini-muffin pans.
Each crust begins with a small ball of dough about the size of a small walnut. I use my middle finger to press the dough down and around into the muffin tin, being careful to keep the dough neither too thin or too thick. If the dough is too thin the filling may seep out; if it’s too thick there will be less room for the filling.
After I form the pastry shells I return the muffin tins to the refrigerator until the dough is cold.
1 extra large egg, slightly beaten
1 T. butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until the crusts turn a light brown. I prefer uncoated aluminum pans to those with nonstick coating.
After the tossies come out of the oven, allow to sit for 5-10 minutes before removing them from the pan. Use a knife to gently lift them out of the pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Makes two dozen tossies.