A Little Yule Cheer, Day 18, 2021: Pecan Tassies

Did you know tassie is a Scottish word meaning small cup? Pecan tassie is a fitting name, then, for a tiny crust made from cream cheese, butter and flour and filled with a teaspoon-sized dollop of pecan pie filling. These delicate, gooey morsels are one of my absolute favorite “cookies” of Christmas. My mom is a master of the pecan tassie, making them for Christmas for years. I’ve decided to share her recipe. It comes from the original, gingham-covered, 1976 edition of The Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, which is definitely showing its age. I’m continually amazed that truly delectable goodies can spring from so few ingredients. From such humble ones, too.

The sacred page from the New Cookbook

I’ve tried several other tassie recipes over the years with mixed results. Mom’s version always yields the prettiest, most delicious tartlets. They are perfect for popping in your mouth, one after the other. Although not the easiest “cookie” to make–they require some planning and fiddling–they certainly aren’t difficult. And, friends, the flavor pay-off is huge. These tassies are tender and sweet with a crackly top and nutty, syrupy middle. My mouth is watering just thinking about them.

Pecan Tassies (recipe makes approximately 2 dozen tassies)

  • 3 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup and 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted or stirred with a whisk
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • dash of salt
  • 2/3 cups coarsely chopped pecans
  1. Blend cream cheese and 1/2 cup butter together until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes).
  2. Add flour and combine just until flour is incorporated.
  3. Chill at least 1 hour.
  4. Shape dough into 2 dozen 1 inch balls.
  5. Place in ungreased 1 3/4-inch muffin pan (mini-muffin pan).
  6. Press dough into bottom and sides of each muffin cup.
  7. Beat the egg, brown sugar, 1 tablespoon butter, vanilla and dash of salt together just until smooth. (I do this by hand with a whisk).
  8. Divide 1/3 cup pecans evenly among the muffin cups.
  9. Add about a teaspoon of the egg mixture to each cup, being careful not to completely fill the cups.
  10. Top the tartlets with the rest of the pecans.
  11. Bake at 325oF for about 25 minutes or until filling is set.
  12. Cool and then remove from pan.

Some notes for the best results:

  1. Take time to chill the dough. It’s easier to work with and the crusts bake up prettier.
  2. Don’t mix the pecans and filling to save time. Trust me when I say you’ll get a more appealing looking tartlet if you take your time and follow the directions.
  3. Don’t over fill the tassies. They will cook over the edges of the crusts which makes ugly tassies.
  4. I took a chance with a silicone muffin pan. Wow! It was easy to work with and the tassies popped right out of the pan after cooling. Clean up was a breeze, too.
  5. Two dozen tassies is a woefully inadequate number. Just sayin’.

A Little Yule Cheer, Day 17: Homage to National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

I was driving to a friend’s house the other day and discovered this very irreverent and creative Christmas decoration. I laughed out loud, alone in my car. Cousin Eddie has moved to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania!

A Little Yule Cheer, Day 15, 2021: Christmas Puzzles to Enhance Your Holiday Cheer

A few days ago, I mentioned doing puzzles can generate or enhance holiday cheer. My husband, Jay, and I enjoy working on puzzles together. We discovered our shared love of puzzling when the COVID quarantine first sequestered us at home. Our inaugural puzzle was a 1000 piece glow-in-the-dark version of Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night. It took us days and days to complete and still remains the hardest puzzle we’ve ever worked on. Somehow, that puzzle managed to hook us on puzzling.

I find working on puzzles to be both stimulating and restful – relaxation with a goal. It’s satisfying to see an image gradually appear, especially when the picture is one that brings me pleasure, either because of its beauty or design, or its theme. I’ve discovered focusing on a Christmas puzzle really does generate holly jolly feelings for me. After a long and stressful day at work, I look forward to unwinding with Jay this way. We make hot chocolate or London Fogs for sipping, put on Christmas music, and settle in to some companionable puzzling.

To tempt you into giving puzzling a try, I’m sharing some examples of Christmas puzzles I would love to try which are currently available. I tend to like very graphic designs (I love working on Charley Harper puzzles) and intense colors or very painterly images. Also, I usually prefer to work on 1000 piece puzzles because I like to settle into a puzzle. I also just enjoy the challenge of puzzles with more pieces. The suggestions below reflect these preferences.

Clicking on any of the images below will take you to a website, where you’re sure to find puzzles that appeal to your particular aesthetic. If 1000 piece puzzles feel too daunting, you can find puzzles in many different piece counts that may be more your speed. Finally, at the end of the post, I’ve listed numerous puzzle companies which I feel produce quality products that are a pleasure to assemble, as well as websites I frequent when I’m looking for a new puzzle.

1. Pit Stop by artist Susan Brabeau. Produced by SunsOut. 1000 pcs.
2. Ugly Xmas Sweaters. Produced by Cobble Hill. 1000 pcs.
3. Twas’ the Twilight Before Christmas by artist Charles Wysocki. Produced by Buffalo Games. 1000 pcs.
4. Angel and Dove by artist Lynn Bywaters. Produced by Springbok. 1000 pcs.
5. Stained Glass Holy Night by artist Randy Wollenmann. Produced by Vermont Christmas Company. 1000 pcs.
6. Holiday Books. Produced by Re-marks. 1000 pcs.
7. Christmas Carolers. Produced by White Mountain. 1000 pcs.
8. Santa’s Team by artist Greg Giordano. Produced by Piatnik. 1000 pcs.

I don’t want to scare anyone away with difficult puzzles and high piece counts. There are beautiful puzzles in lower piece counts, too. These are two of my favorites:

9. Christmas Memories. Produced by All Jigsaw Puzzles. 500 pcs. (This puzzle also comes in a 1000 pc. version).
10. Santa’s Best Friend. Produced by Eurographics. 300 pcs. (I WISH this puzzle was available in 1000 pcs.).

Favorite puzzle manufacturers:

Favorite websites for puzzles:

Aren’t you inspired to give puzzles a try? By the way, puzzles make great gifts, too!