Monday, May 27, 2024

Maple Walnut Tassies – Sally’s Baking Addiction


A twist on the traditional pecan version, these maple walnut tassies are little bites of texture paradise. Soft cream cheese cookie dough cradles a sweet maple-brown sugar walnut filling, and a snowy dusting of confectioners’ sugar is all the decoration they need to be ready for their holiday cookie tray debut. You won’t be able to stop at just one, so it’s a good thing the recipe makes 4 dozen!

close-up of maple walnut tassies with one with bite taken out.

“But Sally,” you may be thinking, “I thought this was Sally’s COOKIE Palooza, and these look like mini pecan pies! Have you finally run out of cookie recipe ideas?” Good question, dear reader! So let’s begin with:

What Are Tassies?

The word “tassie,” I learn, comes from the Scottish slang for a small cup, which in turn originated from the French word for cup, tasse. Baked in a mini muffin pan, these cute cookie cups are made from a soft cream cheese cookie dough, and can hold really any filling you’d like, though pecan tassies seem to be the most common. I actually have a recipe for those in my book Sally’s Cookie Addiction, which is where I started from when developing this new recipe.

(And, for the record, I will never run out of cookie recipe ideas.)

maple walnut tassies with sprinkle of confectioners' sugar on top.

Here’s Why You’ll Love Them:

  • Soft, crispy, creamy, nutty, and sweet all in one
  • Unlike making mini pies, there’s no rolling out pie dough, cutting circles, and re-rolling
  • Recipe makes a lot!
  • They freeze well so you can make them ahead
  • So much texture and flavor in one cute little cup
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Start With the 5-Ingredient Dough

The dough is made from just 5 ingredients, and comes together easily in a food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, you could certainly use a mixer.

ingredients measured on marble counter including cream cheese, butter, sugar, flour, and salt.
  1. Flour: All-purpose flour is the base of this dough.
  2. Sugar: There’s only 1/4 cup of sugar in the dough, as most of the sweetness in these cookies comes from the maple brown sugar filling.
  3. Salt: Flavor enhancer.
  4. Cream Cheese: Cream cheese makes the dough extra soft and creamy, which I love in so many cookie recipes, like apricot cream cheese thumbprints and cream cheese sugar cookies. Let the cream cheese soften to room temperature before you make the dough.
  5. Butter: Make sure you’re using room-temperature butter so it combines easily and completely with the cream cheese. My cookbook version uses cold butter, and that’s fine too, but I found this version produces a softer dough cup.

The dough is similar to the dough I use for rugelach cookies, though that dough is flakier and crisp just like pie crust. Here the dough is soft and tender, almost like a lightly-sweetened cookie.

Place the ingredients in the bowl of your food processor and turn it on. Watch as everything combines into a soft and thick dough at the push of a button:

cream cheese and butter in food processor with flour and shown again mixed together.

Divide the dough in half, and flatten each half into a disc. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. (This is the same way I recommend preparing cut-out cookie dough in how to freeze cookie dough.)

cream cheese dough split in half and shown again flattened into discs.

How to Shape Tassies

Remove one chilled disc of dough from the refrigerator—one disc is enough for one 24-cup mini muffin pan.

Pinch off a piece of dough, about a scant Tablespoon, or 18g, in size. Roll into a ball and place in a greased mini muffin pan. Press your thumb down into the dough ball to create a deep indent, and shape the dough up the sides of the muffin cup, to create the shell.

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balls of dough in mini muffin pan and shown again being pressed with a thumb.

Once you’ve shaped the dough cups, place the pan in the refrigerator to keep the dough cold while you make the filling.

TIP: If you have two mini muffin pans, you can go ahead and shape the second disc of dough into tassie shells, but if you only have one pan, leave the second dough disc in the refrigerator until after you’ve baked the first batch and your pan is available.


Make the Maple Walnut Filling

The filling is as easy as the dough, and you need just a mixing bowl and a whisk to make it:

ingredients on counter including walnuts, melted butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, and eggs.
  • Eggs: Eggs bind the ingredients together and set the filling.
  • Brown Sugar: Molasses-spiked brown sugar is the main sweetener in these maple walnut tassies.
  • Maple Syrup: You want that true maple flavor, so use pure maple syrup here, not “pancake syrup.”
  • Melted Butter: Adds just a touch of richness, and flavor.
  • Vanilla, Salt, & Cinnamon: Flavor-enhancing trio.
  • Walnuts: Chop them pretty finely, so you can fit more nuts in each tiny tasse!

One addition I tested and really liked after I took the above photo, was a touch of maple extract. If you have it, go ahead and add some. You’ll love that extra maple flavor. You can find it in the baking aisle of most grocery stores, or online.

Whisk all the filling ingredients together. Easy peasy!

Remove the pan(s) of shaped tassie shells from the refrigerator. Use a teaspoon to spoon the filling into each cookie cup. The amount you can fit in each cup really depends on how deep you indent the dough, so you may have some filling leftover:

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nut filling in glass bowl and shown again being spooned into mini muffin pan crusts.

The maple walnut tassies bake in about 18–22 minutes. When you’re ready to serve them, dress them up with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar. This little snow flurry is optional, but makes for a sweet and beautiful finishing touch.

The crisp sugared edges, the soft and creamy dough, the crunchy nutty filling… they look so innocent, but they’ll probably be one of the most distractly delicious cookies on the holiday cookie tray!

close-up of maple walnut tassies with confectioners' sugar dusted on top.
Can I replace the walnuts with pecans?

Yes, absolutely! You can swap out the walnuts for the same amount of very chopped pecans. Pecan tassies are the original and most common variety of this cookie.

Can I make these nut-free?

I don’t recommend it, as nuts are the main ingredient in the filling. I haven’t tried the filling with oats, though they could be a fine substitute. For best results, I recommend a different cookie such as peppermint snowballs, shortbread, or brown sugar stamped cookies.

Can I make these without a mini muffin pan?

You need a mini muffin pan to hold the shape of the tassies. Unfortunately, you can’t make/shape them without it. The filling is too thin/liquid to use as the filling for a thumbprint-like cookie. A regular 12-count muffin pan is simply too large, and these would be pretty big. However, you can certainly try it and extend the bake time. See recipe Note.

Can I halve this maple walnut tassies recipe?

Yes. You can halve the recipe by halving all of the ingredients in the dough and the filling.

one maple walnut tassie with bite taken out on top of another.

Sally’s Cookie Palooza

This recipe is part of my annual cookie countdown called Sally’s Cookie Palooza. It’s the biggest, most delicious event of the year! Browse dozens of cookie recipes over on the Sally’s Cookie Palooza page including:

and here are 75+ Christmas cookies with all my best success guides & tips.

Print

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one maple walnut tassie with bite taken out on top of another.

Maple Walnut Tassies


  • Author:
    Sally


  • Prep Time:
    2 hours, 45 minutes (includes dough chilling)


  • Cook Time:
    20 minutes


  • Total Time:
    3 hours, 15 minutes


  • Yield:
    44–48


  • Category:
    Cookies


  • Method:
    Baking


  • Cuisine:
    American


Description

These two-bite maple walnut tassies are made up of tender cream cheese cookie dough and a gooey-sweet filling. A dusting of confectioners’ sugar on top makes for a sweet finishing touch. You can make the dough for the crust ahead of time, and assemble the tassies in advance as well. See Make Ahead Instructions.



Instructions

  1. Make the dough: Place the flour, granulated sugar, and salt in the bowl of your food processor. Pulse a couple times to blend. Add the butter and cream cheese. Pulse until the dough comes together. **If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a mixer for this step. Mix the dry ingredients together, and then beat in the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until the dough comes together.
  2. Divide the dough in half (each half weighs about 430g each, or a little less than a pound). Use your hand to flatten each half into a disc, and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, and up to 3 days.
  3. After the dough has chilled, lightly grease two 24-count mini muffin pans (I use nonstick spray). If you only have 1 mini muffin pan, you can bake these in batches.
  4. Remove one disc of dough from the refrigerator (one disc is enough for one 24-count pan). Tear off a scant Tablespoon of dough, about 18g. Roll into a ball, then place in one of the mini muffin cups. Repeat with remaining dough to fill all the muffin cups in the pan. Use your thumb to press down in the center of each dough ball to make a large, deep indent. Place the pan in the refrigerator, and repeat with second disc of dough and second mini muffin pan (or if you only have 1 pan, wait to do this until the 1st batch is done baking). Keep the dough in the refrigerator while you make the filling.
  5. Make the filling: In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, maple syrup, melted butter, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and salt together until combined. Fold in the chopped walnuts, and maple extract (if using).
  6. Preheat oven to 375°F (191°C). Remove both pans of tassie shells from the refrigerator. Use a teaspoon to spoon the filling into each of the tassie shells. You may have a little filling leftover.
  7. Bake the maple walnut tassies for 18–22 minutes, or until the shell edges are lightly browned and the filling looks set. Let the tassies cool in the pan for 10–20 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. I use a spoon to help remove the warm cookie cups from the pan.
  8. Once cooled and just before serving, use a sieve to lightly dust the tassies with confectioners’ sugar, if desired.
  9. Cookies will stay fresh in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.


Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: You can make the dough ahead of time and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 day, or freeze for up to 3 months. If using frozen dough, thaw in the refrigerator overnight before using. You can also prepare the maple walnut tassies through step 6 and keep them in the refrigerator for up to 1 day before baking them. Baked tassies freeze well for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator and, if desired, bring to room temperature before garnishing with confectioners’ sugar and serving.
  2. Special Tools (affiliate links): Food Processor | Mini Muffin Pan or this one | Glass Mixing Bowls | Cooling Rack | Fine Mesh Sieve
  3. Can I Replace the Walnuts with Pecans? Yes, absolutely! You can swap out the walnuts for the same amount of very chopped pecans. Pecan tassies are the original and most common variety of this cookie.
  4. Can I Make These Nut-Free? I don’t recommend it, as nuts are the main ingredient in the filling. I haven’t tried the filling with oats, though they could be a fine substitute. For best results, I recommend a different cookie such as peppermint snowballs, shortbread, or brown sugar stamped cookies.
  5. Maple Extract: A touch of maple extract adds exceptional flavor. If you have it, go ahead and add some. You can find it in the baking aisle of most grocery stores, or online.
  6. Halve the Recipe: You can halve the recipe by halving all of the ingredients in the dough and the filling. Yield is 22-24.
  7. Can I Make These Without a Mini Muffin Pan? You need a mini muffin pan to hold the shape of the tassies. Unfortunately, you can’t make/shape them without it. The filling is too thin/liquid to use as the filling for a thumbprint-like cookie on a baking sheet. A regular 12-count muffin pan is simply too large, and these would be pretty big. However, you can certainly try it and extend the bake time to about 28-30 minutes.

Keywords: maple walnut tassies



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