These two-bite caramel-pecan tartlets are the perfect treat for holiday entertaining and will definitely impress your guests. I made them recently as a way to use up leftover home-made caramel sauce, which in-and-of-itself is absolutely delicious. But pairing the caramel sauce with a buttery pie crust, toasted pecans and rich chocolate took it to a new level. One note: serve the tartlets at room temperature so the caramel becomes soft, otherwise the tartlets will taste dry.
I brought the tartlets to my friend Sara’s house for her son’s third birthday party. I considered the tartlets a success when the kid ate one and told me he “really likes the cookies.” Too cute!
I made my own pie crust but you could just as easily use store-bought (the kind that comes rolled in the freezer section). But I do recommend making your own caramel – it’s actually pretty easy once you get the hang of it and its intense, rich flavor is unmatched.
Caramel-Pecan Tartlets (makes 24)
1 recipe pie crust (see below) or 1 store-bought pie crust cut into 24 squares
1/2 cup caramel sauce, at room temperature (see below)
1/3 cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a mini-muffin tin with cooking spray. Pat 1 tablespoon pie crust dough into each muffin tin so the dough evenly covers the bottom and sides. Dock the bottom of each crust with a fork and freeze for 30 minutes.
Remove the crusts from the freezer and place in the oven. Bake the pie crusts until they turn light brown, about 20 minutes. Let them cool in the pan for five minutes, then gently remove and place on a cooling rack.
In the meantime, set a pot filled one-third with water over medium heat. Pour the chocolate into a metal or glass bowl and set the bowl on top of the pot to melt the chocolate (double-boiler). Stir often until all the chocolate has melted.
Once the tartlet shells have cooled, fill each with a few pecan pieces then pour 1 teaspoon of the soft caramel sauce on top (you can microwave the caramel in 10-second intervals until it becomes liquid). Drizzle the chocolate over the tartlets and refrigerate until set. Bring the tartlets to room temperature before serving.
Tartlet Crust (makes 24)
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Blend the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor.
Add the cubed butter and pulse until the dough resembles coarse crumbles.
Genlty mix in the cream and vanilla but be careful not to overmix or the dough will become tough. Pat 1 tablespoon dough into each greased mini-muffin tin. Dock the bottom with a fork and bake until lightly browned, about 15 to 20 minutes at 350F.
*Caramel Sauce (makes 2/3 cup)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cold water
½ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
Combine the sugar and water in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepot over medium heat. Do not stir the mixture. Use a pastry brush dipped in water to wash sugar from the sides. Watch the sugar carefully to make sure it doesn’t burn as it boils. Remove the pot from the heat when the sugar turns a rich caramel color after 12 to 15 minutes.
Carefully stir in the heavy cream (the sugar will boil violently) then butter and a pinch of salt. Cool slightly, then strain through a fine mesh sieve and cool.
* Originally published here.