Up your pecan pie game with adorable pecan tartlets! Mini pecan tarts consist of a delicious brown sugar crust with a silky-smooth maple toffee filling and crunchy pecans. It’s the perfect fall treat and Thanksgiving dessert!
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Homemade mini pecan tarts
Few food pairings complement each other better than pecans and maple. The rich sweetness of maple syrup combines beautifully with buttery pecans. Add to that a mellow brown sugar crust, and you have a truly scrumptious symphony of fall flavors.
What are pecan tartlets?
Pecan tartlets are small tarts that consist of pastry shells filled with chopped pecans and a toffee-like maple filling. It’s easily my favorite fall baking recipe because they look cute and taste so darn delicious.
Are they the same as mini pecan pies?
No, I think these pecan tartlets are different from mini pecan pies but every bite as tasty. Maple toffee isn’t your typical pecan pie filling, and they have a pastry crust rather than a pie crust.
Ingredients for this pecan tarts recipe
Brown sugar crust
My mini tart crust is sweet and buttery and has a cookie-like texture as opposed to light and flaky pie crust. The tartlet dough recipe calls for brown sugar, which gives it a subtle caramel note. Here is what you’ll need:
- All-purpose flour: Good ole ap flour is all you need to bake delicious tartlet shells.
- Brown sugar gives the crust depth of flavor and a wonderful caramelized sweetness.
- Salted butter: I like salted butter for my baking and sweets. Unsalted butter + 1 tsp fine salt will also work. To soften the butter, let it sit on the counter for 15 minutes before starting with the crust.
- Egg: 1 egg helps to bind the dough together. Be sure to have it at room temperature.
Maple toffee filling
The filling is my favorite part of this recipe! It has a silky, smooth texture and features a delicious maple + brown sugar aroma that highlights the warm taste of the pecans. Cooking toffee filling might seem intimidating but is actually very easy. We need the following ingredients:
- Maple syrup and pecans are a match made in heaven! Be sure to use pure Grade A maple syrup for the best flavor, none of that artificial imitation stuff.
- Brown sugar enhances the flavor of the filling and adds a note of toffee and molasses. You can either use light or dark brown sugar.
- Crème fraiche makes the filling super creamy and rich. You can substitute cream cheese if you don’t have creme fraiche at hand.
- Water helps to cook the sugar syrup. Use filtered tap water or still water (bottled mineral water without gas).
- Pecans provide a bit of crunch in every bite. We need chopped pecans and a few whole pecan halves for decorating.
You can find the full ingredient amounts and recipe instructions in the recipe card at the end of the post.
How to make pecan tartlets
Step 1: Make the crust
- Using a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar together on high speed until fluffy and creamy, for about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the egg and continue beating at high speed until combined and smooth, about 1 minute.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Add the flour and mix on low until incorporated. The tartlet crust is relatively soft. Chill the dough for 30 minutes if it seems too soft for rolling.
Step 2: Roll the dough
- Lightly dust a pastry mat and your rolling pin with flour.
- Roll out the dough to 1/4 in / 0.6 cm thickness.
- Using a large round cookie cutter, cut out dough rounds.
- Place the dough rounds over the tartlet pans and gently press the dough into the corners and fluted sides.
- Run your rolling pin over the top to cut off any excess dough.
- Use a fork to prick the dough a couple of times to release air trapped between the dough and pan during baking.
- Repeat the process with the dough scraps.
Step 3: Bake the tartlet shells
- Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C / gas mark 4.
- Crumble a 4-in / 10 cm square piece of parchment (baking) paper together and unfold it again.
- Place the piece of parchment paper into the crust and fill it with pie weights.
- Put the mini tart pans on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.
- Take out of the oven after 10 minutes and remove the parchment paper and pie weights.
- Continue to bake for another 3 to 5 minutes until golden and baked through.
- Let cool on a wire rack.
- Once cold, remove the shells from the pan.
Step 4: Cook the toffee filling
- Add the brown sugar and water into a medium-sized saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Reduce to medium-high heat and let the mixture simmer until the sugar has completely dissolved.
- Take the brown sugar syrup off the heat and stir in the maple syrup and crème fraiche.
- Return to the stove and cook over medium-high heat for another 2 to 3 minutes.
Step 5: Assemble the pecan tartlets
- Divide the chopped pecans among the tartlet shells.
- Pour warm toffee filling over the nuts and decorate each mini tart with a pecan half.
- Rewarm the filling if it becomes too thick for pouring.
Step 6: Serve
- Serve caramel pecan tarts warm or at room temperature.
- Optionally, garnish the pecan tartlets with a dollop of whipped cream, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or a sprinkle of sea salt.
Tips for the best maple pecan tartlets
- Level and spoon the flour. Adding too much flour will make the tart shells dry and crumbly. So be sure to spoon the flour into your measuring cup and then run the back of a knife over the cup to wipe off any excess.
- Soften the butter by leaving it out on the counter for 15 to 20 minutes before making the crust. Softened butter is still cool to the touch. If the butter is too warm, the dough will turn out sticky.
- Chill the dough. The dough is relatively soft. If you find it too soft and sticky for rolling., flatten the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap (cling film), and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until you’re ready to bake.
- Bake the tart shells ahead of time. You can bake the tartlet cups ahead of time, and either store them refrigerated for up 1 week or freeze them for 3 months. When it’s time to serve, simply prepare the filling and assemble the mini pecan pie tarts as described.
Pecan tarts storage instructions
How to store mini pecan pie tarts
Store your butter pecan tartlets in an airtight food container to keep them fresh and delicious.
How long do easy pecan tarts last?
- Room temperature: The caramel pecan tartlets will keep on the counter for 2 days when sealed in an airtight container.
- Refrigerator: You can store them for up to 1 week in the fridge.
- Freezer: Pecan tarts freeze well. Place them in an airtight freezer bag, and they will be good for up to 2 months. Simply allow them to thaw in the fridge overnight before serving.
Tools to make pecan pie tarts
The following tools and supplies are helpful to make this mini pecan tart recipe:
- Mixing bowl to mix the dough for the tart crust.
- Small saucepan and cooking spoon to cook the toffee filling.
- Rolling pin and silicone pastry mat make it easy to roll out the dough without sticking to the work surface.
- Large round cookie cutter to cut out dough rounds. This 4.5 in cookie cutter has the perfect size for the mini tart pans.
- Tartlet pans for baking the tart shells. They have beautiful, fluted sides and removable bottoms, so you can easily lift the baked tartlets out of the pan. I used the 3.5 in size.
- Ceramic pie weights for blind-baking the tartlets.
- Parchment paper (baking paper) to easily remove the pie weights.
Pecan mini tarts FAQ
Can I make a large pecan tart recipe instead of individual tartlets?
Can I prepare chocolate pecan tartlets?
Absolutely! Crunchy pecans, creamy maple toffee, and chocolate are the best combination of flavors and textures. To make mini chocolate pecan tarts, follow these steps:
- First, arrange the chopped pecan nuts into the baked tart shells as indicated in the recipe.
- Next, sprinkle 1 tbsp semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips into each shell.
- Then add the maple toffee and decorate with pecan halves and extra chocolate chips.
Can I make this recipe with walnuts?
Of course! Feel free to swap in walnuts or a mix of pecans and walnuts.
Can I use cream cheese instead of crème fraiche?
Yes, you can substitute crème fraiche with an equal amount of cream cheese. Just note that the flavor will be slightly different.
Can I bake the mini tarts in a muffin tin?
Sure. I find tart pans more convenient, but you can bake the pie crust in a well-greased muffin pan or mini muffin pan if that is what you have.
Can I make mini pecan tarts with pie crust?
Yes, you can use a premade pie crust if you prefer. The holiday season can get quite busy, and it makes perfect sense to look for shortcuts to cut back on any extra cooking time.
Can I make the pecan tartlets with puff pastry or phyllo dough?
I haven’t tried it, so I’m not sure how it will work out. Please let me know if you try it so I can include the information in the post.