Pecan tassies are pecan pie in cookie form, with a buttery cookie “cup” holding a generous amount of sticky-sweet filling—and if you haven’t had one, you’ve been missing out. But we couldn’t help wondering why we never see any variations on this delightful bite-size treat. For a riff on pecan tassies, we combined creamy caramel and chopped cashews in a mini tart-like shell. To streamline the process for our glossy caramel-nut filling, we decided to use store-bought caramels. We melted them with cream to make a luxurious sauce, and the addition of a little salt cut the sweetness and complemented the nuts. Once the caramel was ready, we stirred in the cashews. But when added plain, the cashews’ flavor didn’t come through. Toasting the cashews before adding them to the caramel made their flavor shine. The filling was great, but we thought the cookies could use a little nutty flavor to liven them up, so we ground some cashews and added them to the buttery cookie dough shell. Using confectioners’ sugar as the sweetener (along with a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar for deeper flavor) gave our cookie crusts a short, tart-like texture. Chilling the dough before baking helped it hold its shape and bake up tender and crisp.
- Yield: 24 cookies
- 1 cup cashews, toasted
- 0.33 cup (1⅓ ounces) confectioners’ sugar
- 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
- 1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces and chilled
- 1 large egg yolk
- 3¾ ounces soft caramels
- 2½ tablespoons heavy cream
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease one 24-cup, or two 12-cup, mini muffin tin(s).
- Process ½ cup cashews, confectioners’ sugar, and brown sugar in food processor until cashews are finely ground, about 20 seconds. Add flour and ¼ teaspoon salt and process until combined, about 10 seconds. Scatter butter over top and process until mixture resembles damp sand, about 20 seconds. Add egg yolk and process until dough forms ball, about 25 seconds. Working with 1 tablespoon dough at a time, press dough into bottom and sides of each prepared muffin cup. Refrigerate muffin tin(s) until dough is firm, about 20 minutes.
- Bake shells until golden, 13 to 17 minutes, rotating muffin tin(s) halfway through baking. Let shells cool in muffin tin(s) on wire rack for 20 minutes. Gently remove shells from muffin tin(s) and let cool completely.
- Coarsely chop remaining ½ cup cashews. Heat caramels, cream, and ⅛ teaspoon salt in small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until melted and smooth. Stir in chopped cashews. Fill each cookie shell with scant 1 teaspoon caramel mixture. Let filling cool until set, about 30 minutes, before serving.