Gluten Free Mini Pecan Tarts (Naturally Sweetened)
With a buttery nut crust and a maple pecan filling, these mini pecan tarts taste just like the holidays. You’d never know they’re made without refined sugars or gluten, or that they can be made in under an hour! The cookies are sweetened with maple sugar, a natural sweetener that lends loads of flavor, but brown sugar or coconut sugar can be used in its place. The slightly salty, nutty crust, made with a mix of rice and almond flours, balances out the sweet center. (If you prefer, the crust can be made with ¾ cup of all-purpose flour instead of the almond and rice flours.) While I love the cookies just as they are (and they’re even better the next day), I’ll sometimes sneak a piece of chopped chocolate—either white or dark—in the tart shells before adding the filling, and then I’ll drizzle the tarts with more chocolate after they’ve cooled. *Be sure to take the cream cheese and butter out of the fridge a few hours before beginning (or even the night before), to soften.
Servings: 16 tarts
- Cooking spray, for pan
- 1 ¼ cups pecans, divided
- 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
- ½ cup (82 g) white rice flour, or ½ cup (70g) gluten-free all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup (27 g) almond flour
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon plus ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt, divided
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon (54 g) packed maple sugar, or ¼ cup (50 g) packed light brown sugar, or ½ cup (80g) coconut sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla paste, or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Spray a mini muffin tin with cooking spray.
Spread ¾ cup of the pecans on a baking sheet. Bake until the nuts are fragrant and lightly toasted, about 7-9 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Place the remaining ½ cup of pecans in a mini food processor and process until the nuts are ground into a coarse flour.
Put the cream cheese and 4 tablespoons of the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer (or you can use hand mixers), and beat on medium-high speed until well-blended and smooth.
Scrape the sides, and add the rice flour, almond flour, cinnamon, ⅛ teaspoon of the salt and the finely chopped pecans (from the food processor). Mix on medium-low just until the dough comes together.
Roll the dough into 16 rough balls (about 1 inch wide) and press them into the bottoms and up the sides of mini-muffin cups (use damp fingers if the batter is sticky). Pop the tin in the refrigerator while you make the filling.
Using a rubber spatula, stir together the egg, maple sugar (or brown sugar), vanilla paste (or extract), remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, and remaining 1 tablespoon softened butter, stirring and smashing the butter until mostly incorporated (it’s ok if there are still little bits of butter). Coarsely chop the toasted pecans and stir them into the mixture.
Divide the filing among the muffin cups. Bake 20-23 minutes, or until the tarts are golden. Cool in the tins set on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edges of each tart, and carefully transfer them to the rack to cool completely.
Do Ahead: The tarts can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days or can be frozen for up to 3 months.
- You will need a mini muffin tin for this recipe.
- These tarts use a mix of white rice flour or gluten free all-purpose four and almond flour, making them gluten-free. However, for a non-GF version, you can use ¾ cup of a regular all-purpose flour instead.
- I love baking with maple sugar, an unprocessed sugar that has a rich, maple-syrup like flavor. However, you can use brown sugar instead.
- Vanilla paste has a more robust flavor than extract (and it lasts forever!), but you can absolutely use vanilla extract instead.
- These cookies taste even better the next day, so go ahead and make them ahead!