I detest the average pecan pie - which is really nothing more than custard filling in a bland pie crust with a layer of pecans on top. I decided years ago to be a rebel and the pecan pie that I developed is chock-full of pecans - which is as it should be. From the crust to the filling, this is a real pecan pie. This year, in preparation of Thanksgiving, I needed desserts that are smaller and easier to portion out. So I adapted my pecan pie recipe into a mini-bites recipe. Ah... they are gorgeous and just as chock-full of pecans as their predecessor. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
1First, the crusts. Start by sifting together the flour and salt.
2Next, cut in the shortening.
3Now stir in your chopped pecans. Make sure these are nice and fine, but not powder or butter. If the pecan pieces are too big, the dough gets hard to work with and roll out. But if they're too fine, well, then you lose them...
4Water gets added 2 or 3 teaspoons at a time. When I make this, one of the first things I do is take a measuring cup, fill it with water and place it into the fridge. Then as I need it, I pull it out, put a couple of teaspoons into my dough, and place it back into the fridge. As you add the water, use a fork to toss the dough.
5It will take a few applications of the water, but it will eventually form a ball.
6Lightly flour your counter or rolling surface.
7Use your hand to slightly flatten the dough ball, then start rolling.
8Because this is for mini pies, you'll want the crust to be slightly thinner than you would do for a normal 9" pie.
9Once you're happy with the thickness, use a 3" cookie cutter to cut circles from the crust. A 3" cutter is the perfect size for lining up the edge of the crust with the edge of the mini muffin tin... I've also found that a mason jar lid (with the rims) will work very well if you don't have cookie cutters.
10Follow your pan's directions as far as whether or not you need to spray or grase or butter your pan. I did not spray or grease my mini muffin tin in any way - but you might need to if you don't have a nonstick pan or if the nonstick coating has been compromised.
11As you're placing the crusts into the pan, push down in the center gently, then ease the edges up the sides.
12Of course, you'll need to roll up the scraps into a new ball and then roll them back out again to finish up the pans.
13In your mixing bowl, beat the eggs lightly.
14Blend in the corn syrup, sugar, melted butter, vanilla and flour and continue mixing until everything is blended well and has started to thicken.
15Stir in the chopped pecans. For a normal 9" pie, I would use 4 cups of pecan halves; but since this is for mini pies, I chopped those up a little more and found that the 3 cups works better.
16Use a piping bag with a wide tip or a ziptop bag with a cut corner to pipe the filling into the crusts.
17Bake for 40-50 minutes until they are a nice, golden brown.
18Remove your mini pies from the tin and set them on a wire rack to cool slightly before serving.