Browned Butter Pecan Mini-Tarts | How To Store a Cut Lemon

Browned Butter Pecan Mini-Tarts
My dad used to say, “The higher they go, the farther they fall.”  He was typically referring to somebody super excited about something one minute and lower than a snake soon thereafter.

I had a similar up-one-minute-down-the-next problem with these lovely little tarts. See picture below. Like a normal pecan pie, the filling would puff up while baking akin to a marshmallow in a Mason jar when vacuum-packed. (By the way, that’s a cool little science experiment to amuse the kids the next time they’re bored.) Unfortunately, as the tarts cooled and the filling deflated, they looked like an alien had nibbled out of the middle. The same thing happens to full-size pecan pies, too, but the effect is more pronounced in a small tart.

pecan mini-tarts with craters.jpg

This picture is for my friends who think everything I make turns out perfectly. NOT SO!

Just in time for Thanksgiving, I figured out a solution!!

Browned Butter Pecan Mini-Tarts

Increasing the amount of pecans provided additional infrastructure that kept the soft filling from collapsing in the middle as it cooled.  I learned this accidentally after observing the first tart shells I filled had more pecans and therefore, did not deflate as badly as the tarts filled last with fewer pecans and more of the sweet syrup mixture.

So what we have here is a pecan-studded, brown butter-based and seductively sweet filling contained in a buttery cookie crust. Drizzle melted chocolate over the top for a candy-bar-like treat.  Since the tarts are small, and you don’t have to cut slices with a knife, portion-control is judiciously accomplished for you, tailor-made for a party or Thanksgiving.

Heads-up about the tart cookie crusts if you have never made them before. They can be a little tricky for beginners–just like regular pie crusts. I highly recommend you put your hands on some silicone tart molds that are individual, not connected like muffin pans. They are much easier to manipulate. Practice ahead of time. Tart shells are best made ahead anyway and should be stored in the freezer. If you are a visual learner, check out the picture tutorial on this post for Pumpkin Pie Mini-Tarts. You can also use commercial tart crusts if you can find them. Sizes vary widely.

Pecan Pie Mini-Tarts-4.jpg

 Here’s one more way to use your vacuum-pack machine:  Got half a lemon, lime or orange left over (from this recipe, for example)? Vacuum-pack it in a Mason jar for a few extra days of freshness, even up to a week or more, which is better than you’ll get with plastic wrap or just placing into a jar (depending on the freshness of the lemon to begin with). I keep my favorite vacuum-packing device handy for little jobs like this. I honestly use it, along with the wide-mouth jar attachment every single day.

Thanks so much for dropping by.

Browned Butter Pecan Mini-Tarts
Recipe type: dessert
Serves: 15
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Brown butter provides the base for this pecan-lover's dream dessert.
Tart Crust:
  • 1-1/2 cups unbleached flour
  • ⅓ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup butter (1 stick), chilled
  • 1 egg yolk (from a large egg)
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream or half and half
Pecan Filling
  • ½ cup butter
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup corn syrup such as Karo(not the same as high fructose corn syrup)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Lemon juice from half a small lemon
  • 3 eggs, mixed with a fork
  • 1-2/3 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 15 unbaked and frozen tart shells
  1. Go here for a picture tutorial.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in food processor. Cut butter into 8 slices and add to flour, pulsing several times until mixture resembles oatmeal. Add egg yolk mixed with cream. Pulse until all ingredients are moistened. Then allow machine to run a few seconds until dough starts to stick together. (Add additional drops of cream if dough seems too dry.) Press dough into a roll like refrigerated cookie dough. Wrap in plastic and chill 30 minutes.
  3. Spray molds generously with Baker's Secret or something like it. (Baker's Secret is an aerosol spray that mixes flour and oil.) If using silicone molds, no greasing is necessary.
  4. Slice roll of dough into 15-16 pieces. Using a rolling pin, flatten dough between two pieces of plastic wrap into a circle slightly larger than tart molds. Press into mold with fingers, being careful to keep thickness consistent. Use a knife to trim off any extra at the top. I usually have enough scraps to make another tart or two. Freeze for at least 30 minutes, overnight, or up to a month.
Pecan Filling:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Brown butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. This will take a few minutes. You don't have to stir it constantly but you must keep an eye on it. Pull off the heat when butter starts to turn brown and gives off an amazing aroma. You'll know it when you smell it.
  3. Stir sugar into hot butter until it dissolves. Add corn syrup, salt, vanilla, and lemon juice and stir. Then add eggs and whisk gently into butter mixture until combined and smooth. Add pecans.
  4. Pour about ¼ cup of filling into each unbaked, frozen tart shell.
  5. Bake in oven at 375 degrees until browned and set. Mine take about 25 minutes but time may vary depending on the size of your tarts.
Decorating with Chocolate (optional):
  1. Place ¼ cup semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips in a small zippered plastic bag. Microwave on HIGH for 1 minute, 15 seconds or until melted. Snip off the tiniest corner of the bag. Squeeze chocolate out of the hole over the pie in the design of your choice. If you want to squirt the leftover chocolate in your mouth, go ahead. It's our secret.


Share Follow me on Pinterest

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Suzanne November 16, 2014 at 6:23 pm

I like the tip here on the pecan mini tarts with more nuts in each one. I’m also thinking of making mini tarts for all my favorite pies that way I get a little bit of everything in a smaller bit!


sis November 10, 2014 at 7:10 am

Just an “interested why” question. Why the lemon juice?


Paula November 12, 2014 at 7:43 pm

Cuts the sweetness a touch and makes the whole pie sing a bit. 🙂


judy jursch November 9, 2014 at 9:57 am

Is the Karo syrup in the recipe the light colored or the dark colored? I have seen both. Thank you..this recipe looks amazing!


Paula November 9, 2014 at 11:01 am

Good question! I always use light.


judy jursch November 9, 2014 at 11:55 am

Thanks Paula!!


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: