The first time we tasted these walnut cups was about ten years ago when they came from our neighbor across the street. They were so cute and rich and such a perfect little bite of holiday flavor – crunchy and sticky and sweet, with a mild buttery crust – that we were hooked instantly. I thought the filling was pecan, as will anyone you make them for, but they are actually walnuts. If you buy nuts, you know that walnuts are by far the less expensive option. Bonus!
I wrote the recipe down on the back of an envelope and have been making them just about every December since.
And of course, me being me, I had to investigate.
These little delights are also called tassies which come from the archaic Scottish for “cups.” As a Spanish speaker, I find it interesting that the Spanish for teacup is taza and the French is tasse. Perhaps there is a connection? But linguistic musings aside, these walnut tassies are relatively easy to make*, look impressive, travel well and freeze beautifully. Make a double batch now, stash half and you’ll be set for unexpected guests or cookie swaps throughout the holidays.
Ingredients (for the crust):
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 2 sticks butter
- 2 cups flour
- Preheat oven to 350-degrees.
- In a bowl, cream butter and cream cheese, then mix in flour.
- Roll into small bowls and press into mini muffin shells so that crust is even on all sides.*
Ingredients (for the filling):
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 2 cups chopped walnuts
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 tablespoons butter
- confectioner’s sugar (for post-baking)
Directions (for the filling):
- Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and then use to fill shells. Fill only to 3/4 as they will bubble up and make a mess.
- Put in oven for 35 minutes (less if your oven is powerful). When the crusts just begin to turn golden and the filling is bubbling a bit, they are ready. Remove from oven, cool, and sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.
- If you have leftover filling, you can roll them into crescent roll dough for lovely sticky rolls.
Note: Pressing the dough into the mini-cups is made easier by a wooden tool I found with a mini-cup size bulge at the end that is flat at the bottom.