Makes about 4 dozen
For the crust
1 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
For the filling
3 large eggs, beaten
2 2/3 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Dash of salt
To make the crust
Combine softened butter, cream cheese, and salt with a fork until smooth. Add flour, about 1/4 at a time; work into smooth dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate to chill, about 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 350°. Shape into 1 1/4-inch balls; press into mini muffin pans to make the shells. Set aside.
To make the filling
Beat the eggs in a large liquid measuring cup or medium bowl. Slowly beat sugar into eggs. Add melted butter, salt, and vanilla. Place about 1/2 teaspoon pecans in each pastry shell; add filling to almost fill the shells. Top with a few nuts. Bake until set, about 25 minutes.
James Beard Foundation Award-winner Virginia Willis has made cookies with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, foraged for berries in the Alaskan wilderness, harvested capers in Sicily, and beguiled celebrities such as Jane Fonda, Bill Clinton, and Julie Chrisley with her cooking — but it all started in her grandmother’s country kitchen. She is the author of Secrets of the Southern Table; Lighten Up, Y’all; Bon Appétit, Y’all; Basic to Brilliant, Y’all; Okra; and Grits. She’s been seen on Food Network, CBS This Morning, and Fox and Friends and featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Eater, and Food52. She has contributed to Eating Well, Garden & Gun, and Bon Appétit, and more. Her fans love her foolproof recipes and down-to-earth attitude. Learn more at www.virginiawillis.com.
Reprinted with permission from Virginia Willis, copyright (c) 2019. Photography by Virginia Willis.