If you’ve never partied with a pecan tassie, it’s a miniature pecan tart with a cream cheese crust. A mainstay of Southern bridal and baby showers and Christmas buffets. Undeniably delicious. But I’ve always thought they were a little fussy and skimped on the pecan filling.
So, I like to think of these Maple-Pecan Pie Squares as tassies that took off their panties in the car after church and shoved them in the glove compartment.
They’re bold and unpretentious and a little unruly.
Oh, and they’re easy.
Whether you’re mixing by hand or using a food processor, you’ll find that the cookie-like crust comes together in a flash. Press it into the bottom of the pan, slide it into the oven, and let it bake for about 15 minutes.
Once the crust is ready, it takes just a few minutes to prep the filling: butter, maple syrup, brown sugar, heavy cream and two full cups of chopped pecans.
The only trick to this recipe is to line the square baking pan you’re using with aluminum foil, and butter or spray it within an inch of its life before you press in the crust. The foil will allow you eventually to lift the maple-pecan square out of the pan in one miraculous piece and divide it into squares. The filling is wonderfully gooey and sticky, but it slices like a dream.
These squares will last for up to three days in an airtight container, but making them last that long could be an exercise in self-restraint. That mix of cookie crust, sticky-buttery maple filling and crunchy pecans is potent. Intoxicating. Addictive.
Tassies gone wild.
Now, go clean out that glove compartment.
Maple-Pecan Pie Squares
Adapted from “Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking”
Makes 25 squares
- 1 1/4 cups (200 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup (75 grams) firmly packed golden brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (125 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
- 6 tablespoons (90 grams) unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup (105 grams) pure maple syrup
- 2/3 cup (155 grams) firmly packed golden brown sugar
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 2 cups (8 ounces/250 grams) coarsely chopped pecans
- Position a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, letting the foil extend up the sides and over the edges. Butter the foil, or spray it with nonstick spray.
- For the Crust: In a food processor or by hand, combine the flour, brown sugar and salt. Add the butter and pulse (or use a pastry blender) until the mixture forms pea-sized, coarse crumbs. Press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan, and bake until the edges are lightly browned and the top feels firm, 12-17 minutes. Set aside.
- For the Filling: In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter, maple syrup and brown sugar. Stir together until the butter melts and the brown sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil, and boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, and immediately stir in cream. Stir in pecans. Pour the hot filling over the partially baked crust, spreading it to the edges with an icing spatula or wooden spoon.
- Bake until the filling is set when you give the pan a gentle shake, 22-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool until firm, about 1 1/2 hours.
- Using the ends of the foil liner, carefully lift the maple-pecan square in its liner from the baking pan. Run a knife around the edges of the square to loosen it from the foil. Using a large, sharp knife, cut into 25 small squares. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.