These days, at our house, Tassie's have evolved into a barbecue "staple" for several reasons: not only are they super easy (and mess-less) to serve a crowd (especially the little ones), but you can make them a day (or even two) ahead of time, which is always handy.
I just set a tray of these beauties out on the buffet table, and guests "re-visit" it again and again; I guess their mini-size isn't as intimidating as a big old piece of pecan pie.
Tassie's Aren't Just For Christmas Anymore!!
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature (see note)
6 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
2 cups all purpose flour
Cream the butter and cream cheese (with electric mixer) until it is light and fluffy. Add the flour and beat until the dough comes cleanly away from the inside walls of your mixing bowl.
Roll pastry into 1 inch balls and place them into an un-greased mini-muffin pan. Using your fingers, press the balls of dough into the bottom of each cup and up the sides. (I use the floured round end of my rolling pin to press the dough into place). Place the pan of shaped shells into the freezer for a few minutes while you make the filling.
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 3/4 cups light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon maple extract
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans (see note)
Beat the eggs until very well mixed and lemon colored. Stir in everything else (except nuts) and whisk until smooth; set aside.
Put a few chopped pecans in the bottom of each pastry shell and add enough filling to fill the shell about 2/3 full. (see note)
Bake in pre-heated 375F oven for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden and the filling is set, yet still a little soft in the center. Remove from oven and sit the pan on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before you try to lift them out. Lift Tassie's out of pan and cool on a wire rack.
NOTE: Keep in mind that the filling puffs as it bakes, so don't overfill the unbaked shells. If you overfill them, they will be hard to get out of the pans. If your Tassie's resist coming out easily, use the tip of a knife to help you "lift them" out of the pan.
UPDATE: The recipe that I've used for 35+ years, used butter in the crust. However, recently, I decided to try butter flavored Crisco and I was thrilled with the crust difference. The butter produces a very white and non-flaky crust, but the butter flavored Crisco produces a super-flaky golden crust that picky-picky husband loved. If you click on the following photo, you can see how nice and flaky this ingredient substitution turned out.
NOTE: If you do not have maple extract, just leave it out.
NOTE: Picky-picky husband is not a big nut eater, so I put minimal nuts in these when I make them. Even with the extra filling, they bake in 20 minutes.