In the south, there is a pecan tree in just about every yard. Every autumn, we pick up pecans and my aunt, Elaine, shells them all winter long. She says that she cannot sit still at night with nothing to do – so, when she is not stitching, she shells and when she is not shelling, she stitches. This last year, she shelled about 300 lbs of pecans. (Of course, she will also tell you that she picks about 100 gallons of blackberries every summer too!) But she did shell an awful lot of pecans and I have to say that she is not stingy at all and shares the hard-to-come-by meat with everyone!
Our friend Precey makes the best pecan tarts you ever put in your mouth, and here is her coveted recipe:
1-3 ounce package cream cheese
1 stick butter
1 cup sifted flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon soft butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup chopped pecans
24 half pecans
Let cheese and stick of butter soften at room temperature. Blend together and stir in flour. Chill for 1 hour. Shape dough into 2 dozen 1-inch balls. Press balls into bottom and sides on mini muffin tins.
Beat egg, sugar, 1 tablespoon soft butter, vanilla and salt until smooth. Add chopped nuts. Fill cups. Place a half pecan on top of each.
Bake 25 minutes at 325 degrees. Makes 24 mini pecan tarts.