I’m about to make you the star of your holiday dessert party with these light Pecan Pie Tartlets. Gluten free, around 100-150 calories each, and perfectly portioned, I dare you to have just one. And I dare you, after having more than one, to feel bad about it! NOT POSSIBLE.
My mom’s favorite desert is pecan pie. She says that she “only gets to have pecan pie once a year,” but that is a complete lie, and she knows it. She gets her pecan pie on Thanksgiving, the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, her birthday, the day after her birthday, as well as any other times that she can squirrel one away.
Growing up in Georgia, you better believe that Pecan Pie was a staple. Add to that my mother’s (and my father’s!) affinity for the decadent dessert, and, well, I was pretty familiar with it! I don’t know whether it was because I kind of “understood” that the pecan pies were for my parents, or if it was because I just wasn’t as big a fan of them, but I never really developed a taste for pecan pie. I like my pie kind of deconstructed over ice cream, as you can imagine. Plus, with my stomach sensitivities, pecan pie was a bit overload for me (that isn’t to say that I didn’t pick off some of the good gooey bits of nuts and pie crust).
Lightened Up Pecan Pie Tarts (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)
When it was time for Alex and I to host our first Thanksgiving, I knew that, especially with my mom coming, I had to attempt to make my first pecan pie. And it was an ugly, but resounding, success. With Mom and Chris invited for Thanksgiving again this year, I knew it was time to break out the baking mitts and make pecan pie 2.0. But this year, I wanted to improve upon the recipe so that even I and Alex (who is trying to cut back on sweets and things) could enjoy some of the deliciousness.
So how do you lighten up a notoriously heavy and decadent dessert?
Step one: Portion Control
I made mini pie/tarts in regular sized muffin tins so that everyone could have one or two without feeling unsatisfied or oversated.
Step Two: Lighter Pie Crust
To make my pie crust lighter, I immediately thought of phyllo dough, but I’ll tell you what, apparently it is impossible to find mini premade phyllo shells now! No matter, I made my own! Each pie “crust” is 4 layers of phyllo dough, held together with cooking spray and prebaked before I added the filling.
Step Three: Lighten up the Filling Itself
Ok, now the pecan pie filling itself. Essentially fat and sugar with a side of nuts. And no, (Mom) your argument that peanut M&Ms are healthy because of the nut protein doesn’t hold here, either. Then I made the simple swap of cow’s milk butter for coconut butter and BOOM dairy free! Working with ratios and a different form of sugar (this time, in the form of all natural, gluten free vanilla syrup) meant that I could still use enough of the good stuff for that authentic flavor and texture but not suffer the (digestive) consequences!
Light Pecan Pie Tartlets (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)
- 8-12 Gluten Free Phyllo Dough Sheets (the number needed depends on the size of the sheets)
- cooking spray
Pecan Pie Filling
- 2 eggs
- 2 TBSP all natural, gluten free Vanilla Syrup (I like Jessica’s Natural Foods syrup)
- 1 cup chopped natural Pecans
- 2 TBSP coconut butter, melted
- 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
- pinch salt
- 1/2 TBSP Cinnamon
- pinch nutmeg
- Preheat oven to 350*
- Create the crusts by laying out one sheet of phyllo dough, spraying with cooking spray, and then layering the next, and so on to layer 4 sheets of dough. Cut into squares with a pizza cutter or knife and lay into pre-sprayed muffin tins.
- Bake crusts for 10 minutes while making pie filling.
- Next, create the filling by combining remaining ingredients into a mixing bowl.
- Distribute pie filling into crusts and return to oven for 10-20 minutes, rotating halfway through. If you like a firmer set filling, let go for up to 20 minutes
- Finish off with a little bit of extra brown sugar!
- Optional: add 1 TBSP bourbon for a true southern treat!
We all loved them, they passed the Mom Pecan Pie test, and they were perfect with vanilla ice cream (dairy free or otherwise). They would be perfect for a holiday dessert party or your own holiday table. And psst, feel free to make them with bourbon–you know I made a few like that!