Ahhh another baking blunder. They seem to happen far more frequently than I’d like to admit. Or perhaps that’s because like with all ‘mistakes’ or embarrassing moments they tend to stick in one’s mind. Stand out. To act as reminders. Don’t do that again. No really, don’t. This particular boo-boo however, I will be repeating. On purpose. Take that you careful, cautious brain. At cookery school it was drilled into us “thou shalt not mess with baking recipes. Especially pastry.” Repeatedly. You’d go home on the bus muttering it under your breath. I can tell you that attracts some strange looks. Especially when you’ve still got a smear of flour on your face and butter on your arms. Why don’t people tell you? Is it funny? But yes we knew loud and clear not to mess with pastry. From the way our teachers ranted on and on and on about it, one was sure they would stimulate an apocalypse-style situation if one so much as measured our flour out one gram too much.
This blunder was thus completely unintentional (though admittedly the phrase itself does lead to such connotations). An early morning not-quite-with-it-yet mistake. One that involved forgetting to put the butter in the pastry. Kind of vital right? Well. The result? A crisp, nutty pastry that cracks satisfyingly when bitten into, giving way to a sweet, oozing filling, studded with pecans and spiked with maple. Yes the pastry is richer with the butter (I’ve made it both ways), however I’m far more impartial to the healthier version (let’s label it that rather than the ‘oopsi-daisy version’.) The filling in itself is rich, therefore the butter-free pastry lends itself to a more balanced mouthful.
Without the butter you’d have some difficulty lining your regular sized pie tin, but that’s a non-issue here. We’re making bite-sized pies! Plop a blob of pastry into the bottom of a mini-muffin pan hole and use your fingers to push it up the sides, to form an even casing. There’s minimum room for rips or tears. Clearly not every mistake in the pastry department is a fatal one. These Bite-Sized Pecan Pies are all the proof you need.
Bite-Sized Pecan Pies
50g cream cheese, softened (I used light)
50g whole-wheat flour
1 tsp cold water
1 egg yolk
50g brown sugar
2 tbsp maple syrup
½ tsp vanilla essence
15g unsalted butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 170C. Grease a 12 hole mini muffin pan.
Buzz the pecans in a processor until fine crumbs form. Add the cream cheese and flour and pulse until dough begins to form. Alternatively you can work them in with a fork. Add water if needed to just bring the dough together.
Divide the pastry dough into 10 balls. Pop one ball into a muffin hole and use your fingers to gently push it up the sides of the hole, so that you have an even pastry case. Be sure to press right into the corners of the hole. Repeat with the remaining balls of pastry. Pop the pan in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to allow the pastry to chill. Meanwhile, make the filling.
Toast the pecans in a dry frying pan over a low heat for about 3 minutes or until fragrant. Remove 10 halves and set aside for placing on top of each pie. Roughly chop the remaining nuts.
In a small bowl whisk together the egg yolk, brown sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, salt and melted butter. Stir in the chopped pecans.
Assembly and Baking
Bake the pastry cases for 5 minutes and then remove from the oven and set on a heatproof mat. Fill each case with the filling, leave just a millimetre or two at the top. Place a pecan half in the centre of each pie and return the pan to the oven. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is ‘set’. The filling might have bubbled in some pies. Do not worry, this will settle as the pies cool.
Set the pan on a wire rack to cool slightly for 2 minutes and then carefully lever each pie out of the pan and onto the rack to cool completely.
Serve warm or at room temperature, on their own or with cream or vanilla ice-cream.
Source: Adapted from BBC Good Food.