Although pecan is the traditional filling for these Southern tartlets, any pie filling can be substituted. For a pareve treat, substitute standard flaky pastry for the cream cheese pastry.
Pastry:(About 24 pastries)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon butter or margarine, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash of salt
2/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1) To make the pastry: Beat the butter or margarine and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the salt. Beat in the flour to form a smooth dough. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 4 days.
2) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease twenty four 1 3/4-inch by 3/4-inch (1 ounce) muffin tins.
3) On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough 1/8-inch thick, cut out 3-inch dough rounds, and press into the prepared muffin tins. Or divide the dough into 24 balls and press onto the bottom and sides of the muffin tins. Refrigerate while preparing the filling.
4) To make the filling: Beat together the sugar, egg, butter or margarine, vanilla, and salt. Divide the pecans between the pastry cups and spoon about 1 1/2 teaspoons of the filling over top.
5) Bake until the filling is set and the shells are golden brown, about 25 minutes. Let cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then release the edges with a knife and transfer to a rack.
Almond Tassies: Omit the pecan filling. Beat together 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1/4 cup (2 ounces) almond paste. Beat in 2 egg yolks, 1 at a time. Stir in 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons light cream or nondairy creamer, and 1 tablespoon water. If desired, spoon 1/2 teaspoon seedless raspberry jam into the tarts before adding the filling.
Chocolate Pecan Tassies: Substitute 1/3 cup granulated sugar for the brown sugar and add 6 ounces melted semisweet chocolate, 1 tablespoon milk, and, if desired, 1 teaspoon coffee liqueur to the filling.