Pecan Pie Cookies (adapted from Martha Stewart's Cookies, my new favorite cookie book)
For the dough:
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup neufchatel cheese (or cream cheese, Martha uses mascarpone)- 4 oz
4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) butter, at room temp
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
For the Filling:
1 large egg
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup (or just more brown sugar)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. butter
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350* and toast your pecans: Place in a shallow, greased baking dish, and place in oven for about 15-20 minutes. Trust me, the pecans are like 1000 times better after they've been toasted.After they have cooled down, we'll start the dough. In a food processor, grind up 1/2 cup of the pecans. Add the cream cheese and butter, and blend. Then add the flour and salt. Be careful not to blend too much, or it may try to break your machine. Just get it into a ball, and scrape out the rest.
Now get out your mini-muffin tin. (You could probably use a regular one, but I don't think it would make very many cookies.) Spray it with nonstick spray, and fill the holes with a small amount of the pastry dough. (about a tablespoon full). Spread the dough up the sides of the spaces, and try to make it an even thickness.
Make the filling:
Whisk together the egg, brown sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, and butter in a medium-sized bowl. Stir in the rest of the pecans. Put a small amount into each pastry shell.
Bake at 350* about 15 minutes, until the crust turns golden brown. (Time will be longer if you make larger ones in regular muffin tins. I would also double the whole recipe if that's the route you choose.) Let cool completely before trying to remove from pan.