Nut cups are like sweet, tasty mini tarts. We love to make them every year around the holidays. I bake a lot every season, beginning in November. Our family has some of the best home-baked cookie recipes. It’s a tradition among the women in our family that dates back to a time long before I was born. I can’t imagine a Christmas without the cookies, or the hours of baking that it involves.
But mini tarts and nut cups became off limits when my oldest son was diagnosed with celiac disease and a severe corn intolerance in 2007. Our first gluten and corn free Christmas began with several mishaps and a lot of perseverance. I just knew I had to find a way to preserve the tradition sans gluten. And that’s what I’ve done. My altered mini tarts were a smash it. We always call them nut cups in our house. I think this recipe is my all time best success this year.
These mini tarts are perfect for parties. They travel well and go fast. My gluten and corn free nut cups recipe easily passes for the real thing. Nobody can taste the difference between the gluten and corn free mini tarts and the regular ones. Taste, texture, and consistency are all the same. We are a ‘natural foods’ family, so this recipe is also good for people following the Feingold diet and avoiding artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives. I’ll give specific directions if you’ve never had to prepare recipes before that avoid multiple allergens.
2 cups of Betty Hagman’s all-purpose gluten free flour recipe * see below for details
1/2 cup of unsalted Kerrygold Irish Butter (or any other unsalted butter from the safe foods list)
NOTE: The crust can be made without adding the butter and cream cheese. You can substitute with 1 cup Spectrum Palm Oil and omit the cheese, but your crust will be crispier and a little more crumbly. (See our pie crust recipe as an example). Another alternative for folks with dairy allergies is to make a special batch of only the cookie filling in a lightly greased and floured ramekin dish.
1/2 cup of spectrum shortening
6 oz of regular cream cheese (make sure brand is corn-free, which omits all low fat varieties as far as I can tell. Cream cheese contains casein)
4 tablespoons melted butter (or spectrum shortening if you are doing casein free)
2 eggs, beaten well.
1/2 cup unpacked brown sugar (I like to use organic sucanant)
2 cups of chopped pecans
Directions for Nut Cups:
In a mixer, combine all crust ingredients and mix well until dough forms a solid ball. Remove from mixer and chill at least one hour.
In a separate bowl combine melted margarine, beaten eggs, brown sugar and pecans. Mix well.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll dough into teaspoon sized balls and place them into the individual mini-muffin molds.
Using your knuckles and fingertips, mold the dough into mini pie crusts. Fill each finished crust 2/3 high with nut filling. Bake 20-25 minutes. Remove from pan immediately and cool on a wire rack. (They should pop right out, granted you did not over-fill the individual cups and cause the filling to stick all over the rim of the tin.)
Makes about 36 tarts. Corn-free confectioner’s sugar can be sprinkled on top if you’d like.
NOTE: To prepare Betty Hagman’s flour recipe I usually mix 2 parts white rice flour, 2/3 part potato starch, 1/3 part tapioca flour in large batches and store it for future use ‘on the fly’ in many regular recipes that require all purpose flour. But you can also use one of the many popular gluten and corn free mixes that you like.