Mini Pecan Pies
Butter rich or easily dairy free, these Mini Pecan Pies are fun to make and easy to share! Made without corn syrup, with a hint of bourbon (or apple cider) and molasses, these mini pies have a soft custardy center. *See recipe notes in blog post for making these dairy free plus tips and tools!
Servings 12 Mini Pies
For the Pastry:
- 3/4 C (165g) Unsalted Butter this is 1 1/2 sticks (or 12 Tbs) - see note* for dairy free
- 1/4 C (60g) Milk plant or dairy, I use homemade unsweetened cashew milk
- 1 1/2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 3/4 C (255g) Unbleached All Purpose Flour I use Bob's Red Mill
- 1 1/2 Tbs Cane Sugar
- 3/4 tsp Fine Sea Salt use only 1/4 tsp if using dairy free butter
For the Filling:
- 1/2 C (60g) Pecan Halves
- 1/4 C + 1 Tbs (100g) Brown Rice Syrup
- 1/4 C (50g) Brown Sugar packed
- 1 1/2 Tbs Unsalted Butter dairy or plant
- 2 tsp Molasses
- 2 tsp Bourbon, Apple Cider or Apple Juice
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1 Large Egg
For the Pastry:
Cut the butter into 1/2" pieces, and place in the freezer.
Whisk the milk and apple cider vinegar together and set aside.
Make the Pastry: In the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the S blade, add the flour, sugar and salt. Pulse 3-4 times to mix. Take the butter out of the freezer and dump it on top of the flour mixture. Pulse 8-10 times, or until almond to pea size chunks remain. With the lid off, pour the milk mixture in a circular motion into the work bowl. Put the lid on and process for about 15 seconds or until the mixture forms a loose, crumbly ball.
Sprinkle some flour out on to a work surface, and turn the dough out. Knead the dough a few times, folding and pressing it over and on top of itself, eventually forming about a 1/2" disk. Wrap it snugly in parchment paper and store it in the refrigerator for an hour. To Freeze: If making the pastry ahead, and you'd like to freeze it, wrap snugly in parchment, place the pastry in a lidded container or freezer bag. Freeze for up to two weeks. Thaw in the fridge overnight. When ready to roll out, set it at room temperature for about 30 minutes, then roll the dough. Roll out and Pan the Pastry: Prepare the muffin pan by generously greasing each cup. I use coconut oil for this but pan spray can be used as well. Remove the pastry from the refrigerator and generously dust a work surface and rolling pin with flour. Roll out the pastry to just under 1/8". Add flour to the top of the pastry as needed to prevent sticking. Dust a 4" (10cm) pastry/cookie cutter with flour then cut 12 discs (an inverted bowl and pastry wheel can be used here). It takes me two times rolling the pastry out to get 12 discs plus leaf cut outs (optional), so collect the leftover pastry, knead and reshape it then re-roll as needed. Cut any decorative shapes you'd like at this time too. Set the leaf cut outs on a small parchment lined sheet pan. Line each cup with a pastry disk gently nudging the disk into place by pushing the top edges down and into the cup. Pleat the edges as needed and press the pastry into the sides of the cup. It's okay if the bottom of the cup is somewhat rounded. Once all the cups are pastry lined, use the tines of a fork to dock the bottom of the dough, then pop the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven to 400F (204C). Freeze the pastry and any cut outs for at least 15 minutes. Par Bake the Pastry and Toast the Pecans: Par-bake (blind bake) the pastry cups on the center rack in a 400F oven for 16-18 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from oven and set aside. Toast the pecans at the same temperature for only 5-7 minutes. They toast quick at this high temperature, so keep an eye on them! Remove from oven, set aside to cool, then finely chop.Bake the Decorative Shapes (if making): For the decorative cutouts, brush with milk then sprinkle sugar on top. Bake on a parchment lined sheet pan while the pastry par bakes for about 8-12 minutes or until goldenish - keep an eye on them - the smaller the cutout the quicker the bake.
For the Filling:
Reduce the oven temperature to 325F (162C). In your smallest sauce pot, on medium low heat mix the brown rice syrup and sugar. As the mixture starts to bubble around the edges, whisk so that the sugar dissolves. Do not let this mixture come to a boil. Remove from heat and add the butter, molasses, bourbon (or apple cider/juice) and vanilla. Whisk to mix. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Once the filling has cooled to room temperature, whisk in the egg. Set aside.Meanwhile to each pastry cup, add about 1 1/2 tsp of chopped pecans. Press gently to nudge the puffy center down if needed.
To each pecan filled pastry cup, spoon in about one tablespoon of filling over the pecans. Only fill to the inside edge of the pastry cups. If overfilled, it makes a complete mess. You'll notice the filling will settle a bit as you fill the other cups. Top off as needed.
Bake the mini pecan pies at 325F for about 19-22 minutes or until just set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 45 minutes before serving. This will allow the custard to set.
Share with decorative pastry leaf cut outs, a drizzle of chocolate, whipped cream or a small scoop of ice cream.
The mini pecan pies can be stored for up to three days, covered, at room temperature. They can also be frozen for up to two weeks in a covered container. Thaw at room temperature. If desired, reheat in a 325F oven for about 5-7 minutes.
*Dairy Free: If using plant based/dairy free butter and it is salted, be sure to reduce the salt in the pastry from 3/4 tsp to 1/4 tsp. I tested this recipe with Earth Balance.
A Note on Oven Temperature Variations: I enthusiastically recommend an oven thermometer! for best baking outcomes.
Calories: 339kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 52mg | Sodium: 185mg | Potassium: 70mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 28g | Vitamin A: 424IU | Calcium: 42mg | Iron: 1mg