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A Tale Of Two Tassies

Tassie: noun (plural: tassies)

  1. (Scotland) A cup or goblet for drinking wine.
  2. A small tart or miniature pie.

From French tasse, meaning cup, and from Arabic tassah, a bowl or basin for drinking.

Walnut Tassies

Walnut Tassies

My internet travels had lately brought me to a recipe for pecan tassies, taken from Gourmet Magazine’s favourite cookie recipes 1941-2008 by way of the Cooking… by the Seat of My Pants blog. Tassies, in the miniature pie sense of the word, were entirely new to me, but the description piqued both my interest and my tastebuds, in an anticipatory kind of way.

My recent baking efforts have found me operating at the gluten-free end of the kitchen (with varying degrees of success) but I felt that these little golden cups should be made in all of their gluten-filled glory first, before taking any recipe detours (and I can do that ‘cos I’m not the one on the gluten-free diet). I took advantage of the absence of she-who-is-avoiding-gluten to make a batch…

Ah, such addictive little gems. The first lot were barely finished, and gluten-free sis had returned, when Tassies Mark II made their debut after a very successful gluten-free makeover. This was, however, not before I first (a) discovered the existence of and (b) discounted the use of, gluten-free vanilla. The theory that says there is gluten in vanilla extract is based on the premise that the alcohol involved in making the extract is usually derived from gluten-containing grains. I happened across an interesting post here which argues that the gluten doesn’t survive the distillation process and that a good natural vanilla extract is just fine. That’s what I chose to use here.

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Walnut Tassies

This is essentially the Gourmet Magazine tassie formula, with walnuts substituted for pecans, and a little more added vanilla. I have also replaced the cup measurements with weights. Even though I possess a set of US measuring cups, I’m more naturally inclined to use my weighing scales. Thus the only cups involved in this recipe are the tassies themselves, little cups of dough holding a glorious walnut filling.

The Pie Base:
  • 110g unsalted butter, softened
  • 80g cream cheese, softened
  • 200g plain flour or, for gluten-free tassies, use a mix of 150g rice flour, 50g corn starch and 0.5 tsp xantham gum
The Filling:
  • 50g walnuts or pecans, chopped
  • 175g demerara sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tblsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 0.25 tsp natural vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
You’ll also need:
  • 24 mini-muffin tins
The Steps:
  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • Butter the muffin tins very well.
  • Cream together the butter and cream cheese for the shell, either using an old fashioned wooden spoon and elbow grease or with a stand mixer or food processor.
  • Gradually add the flour to the butter and cheese and mix until the whole things starts to come together as a ball of soft, sticky dough.
  • Divide the dough evenly among the muffin tins, pressing it into the bottom and up the sides of the tins, forming little cups of dough.
  • Chop the walnuts or pecans and distribute amongst the tins, pressing them gently into the dough.
  • Beat the egg lightly with the sugar and mix in the vanilla, salt and remaining tablespoon of butter.
  • Spoon this mixture over the walnuts.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the tops are puffed slightly and the shells are golden.
  • Let them cool completely on a wire rack before easing them gently from the tins.
The Results:
  • Makes 24 tassies, which will disappear fast


  1. Tangled Noodle

    My kind of cookie – buttery, cream cheese-y and nutty, all in one!

  2. Ange

    Truly delicious from ‘she-who-is-avoiding-gluten’

  3. gastroanthropologist

    oh, yum. these remind me of a wonderful christmas treat my grandmother’s neighbor used to make…we called them “nut cups”, but I suspect they were a version of a tassie. aren’t mini muffin tins great?

  4. Daily Spud

    I love my mini-muffin tins. Even though I always seem to end up eating mini-treats two-at-a-time anyway, there’s always the option of only having one :)

  5. Lori

    Yum! These sound delicious. I love nuts in just about everything. My mom used to make a similar version with pecans.

  6. Bellini Valli

    Years ago I used to make Pecan Tassies for Christmas every year adding cranberries for colour. Thanks for reminding me of their flaky pastry and wonderful flavour.

  7. Daily Spud

    Mmm, the cranberries sound like an interesting addition! I also thought, as I was making them, that you could replace the vanilla with a splash of something like madeira or brandy for an extra-festive flavour.

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