Gluten-Free Mini Caramel Pecan Tarts

Gluten-Free Mini Caramel Pecan Tarts on My Baking Addiction

These grain-free and gluten-free mini caramel pecan tarts couldn’t be any easier and are the perfect end to Thanksgiving dinner!

In my last two gluten-free recipes, I used oats and oat flour but for these mini caramel pecan tarts, I wanted to incorporate some nuts and nut flour for an ultra-nutty treat. The result is a crust that’s very similar to a graham cracker crust, though a little softer.

While you certainly can use pecans in the crust, I opted for walnuts as they’re much cheaper where I live. The primary taste in the crust is cinnamon so I don’t feel like I missed out on anything by not using pecans. The only downside to this crust is that it’s not suitable for fillings that require baking. Even with chilling, pre-baking and an egg white wash, the baked fillings I tried leaked through. Grain-free crusts can be finicky like that, which is why I came up with this easy no-bake caramel filling.

Gluten-Free<br />
Mini Caramel Pecan Tarts on My Baking Addiction
I have to admit, I’m quite possibly the world’s worst caramel maker. I attempted and failed at 7 different caramel recipes before I found this one that’s incredibly easy. There’s no caramelizing of sugar, which I think is key for those of us with caramel issues. You simply mix everything together and let it simmer for 8 minutes. I’ve made it a few times now, with each time a success, so I’m confident that anyone can make these cute little mini caramel pecan tarts!

I originally made these in six 4.25″ mini tart pans and then realized that people probably don’t want to eat such a huge serving of caramel and nuts after a heavy Thanksgiving dinner. The tarts looked amazing but weren’t practical unless you cut each tart into 4 pieces, which kind of defeats the purpose of mini tarts, doesn’t it?

Gluten-Free Mini Pecan Tarts on My Baking Addiction

If you don’t want to bother with making them as tiny tarts in a muffin pan, I’m pretty sure a 9″ tart pan would work. Just bake the crust until nicely browned and follow the rest of the recipe! Should you not have almond flour on hand, you can use another type of finely ground nut flour. I tried using a total of 2 1/4 cups of walnuts instead of using a mix of almond flour and walnuts, but the texture was much better with the latter. If this gluten-free crust isn’t your speed, you can use whatever tart crust you’d like or make them into bars using the crust recipe in Jamie’s chocolate caramel shortbread bars.

Not feeding a crowd? You can easily halve this recipe for only 9 mini tarts. And if it’s just the two of you, try my gluten-free apple crumbles for two.

 

Gluten-Free Mini Caramel Pecan Tarts

Yield: 18 mini tarts

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 21 minutes

Ingredients:

For the crust:
1 1/4 cups almond flour or almond meal
1 cup pecans or walnuts
4 teaspoons coconut flour*, sifted if lumpy
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup light or dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt

For the filling:
3/4 cup tightly packed dark brown sugar
2/3 cup whipping cream
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/8 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups chopped pecans

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two muffin pans with 18 muffin liners.

2. Prepare the crust. Place all the crust ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the S-blade and pulse for 15 seconds or until there are no large chunks of nuts left. The nuts should be 1/8" or smaller in size.
Press 20 grams, about a rounded tablespoon, of dough onto the bottom of the each liner. Try to press it in the nooks and crannies of the muffin liner.

3. Bake for 7 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for at least 20 minutes while preparing the rest of the recipe. Don't skimp on the cooling time or the caramel may leak through.

4. Place the chopped pecans on a baking sheet and roast for 4-6 minutes or until starting to smell toasty. They burn quickly so keep a close eye on them. Remove from the oven.

5. Prepare the caramel. Heat the sugar, cream, butter, vanilla and salt in a heavy bottom saucepan (do not use non-stick) over medium heat.

6. Stir until combined and then simmer for 8 minutes. Do not stir. If needed, tilt the pan to redistribute the mixture.
7. Remove from the heat. The caramel will be quite thin at this point. Let it cool for 20 minutes or until considerably thickened and just barely pourable. Stir in the nuts and then spoon about 2 tablespoons of caramel pecan mixture onto the top of each baked crust.

8. Place the pans in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours or until the caramel has firmed up.

Serve cold or at room temperature. These can be left at room temperature for 8 hours. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Notes:

*There isn't a direct substitute for coconut flour. If you don't have it on hand, I recommend trying a different crust recipe.

Caramel adapted from Chocolate Nut and Caramel Shortbread Tart.

by Erin Dooner

Hi there! I'm Erin and I'm the blogger behind Texanerin Baking, which focuses on making healthier desserts that taste just as delicious and decadent as their unhealthy counterparts. I also firmly believe that no meal is complete without at least a little dessert and that we'd all be a bit happier if we'd just indulge in more cheese and carbs.

more by Erin »

52 Responses to “Gluten-Free Mini Caramel Pecan Tarts”

  1. Jen @ Baked by an Introvert — November 25, 2014 at 9:58 am

    I’ve struggled with homemade caramel recipes also. I love that you found an easy one that doesn’t require caramelizing the sugar. These tarts are perfection! Pinning!

    • Erin @ Texanerin Baking — November 26th, 2014 at 3:22 am

      Thanks for pinning, Jen! And I’m with you on the non-caramelizing of sugar thing. Maybe one day, but right now, it just terrifies me. ;)

  2. Veronica@downcakerylane — November 25, 2014 at 10:33 am

    Wow…I’ve been looking for something just like this…too weird! I just tried Starbucks pecan tart the other day and fell in love,lol but I tend to be 80% gluten free/vegan. Right now, I only have loads of coconut flour and almond meal. I’m low on every other gf flour.

    I need to squeeze this in somehow before Thursday…I need more hours in the day, lol

    • Erin @ Texanerin Baking — November 26th, 2014 at 3:24 am

      What a great coincidence that you only have the ingredients needed to make these tarts. :) I hope you get a chance to try them out!

  3. Jessica @ Sweet Menu — November 25, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    YES please! Caramel and pecans? Totally my weakness! These look truly wonderful!

  4. Love this recipe! The glazed pecans on top look scrumptious!

    • Erin @ Texanerin Baking — November 26th, 2014 at 10:28 am

      Thanks so much, Lindsey! Hope you have a great Thanksgiving. :)

  5. Chelsea @chelseasmessyapron — November 29, 2014 at 11:00 pm

    These look so amazing! You are the best at making gluten free desserts look so good!! I love that you incorporated nuts! Pinned! :)

    • Erin @ Texanerin Baking — December 1st, 2014 at 1:15 pm

      Thanks so much, Chelsea! What a nice thing to say. :) Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving!

  6. Sarah @ SnixyKitchen — December 2, 2014 at 4:24 am

    Yum – these sound so delicious and I love that they’re gluten-free and full of nuttiness.

  7. Baking Tuts — December 2, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    I love your creativity. I have not seen anything you have made that wasn’t awesome. Step by step instructions always help me.

    • Erin @ Texanerin Baking — December 3rd, 2014 at 9:40 am

      Thanks so much! I’m happy you found the directions helpful. :)

  8. Veronica McCall — December 11, 2014 at 8:15 pm

    Ok – – my husband & I are both Type 2 Diabetic – – we are hearing more & more about this “gluten” – – – – we have always been conditioned to look for things that are sugar-free, less carbs – – so are these conducive to that – – what is gluten & is it Diabetic-friendly?

    • Erin @ Texanerin Baking — December 12th, 2014 at 6:06 am

      I believe gluten is fine for diabetics, as long as they don’t have gluten sensitivities (but I’m not a doctor so you should check with yours if you’re unsure about that). Here’s some more information about diabetes and gluten: http://www.diabeticlivingonline.com/food-to-eat/nutrition/gluten-and-diabetes-there-connection

      Grain-free foods (which are always gluten-free) are usually lower carb than grain-containing foods, so that could be beneficial. These tarts, although grain-free, have a lot of sugar in the caramel so I’m thinking they’re not the best option for you.

      I hope that helps!

  9. cindy — January 16, 2015 at 10:42 am

    Careful, not all nuts are GF. Always check the bag.to see if it says made on machinery used to produce wheat products. Diamond is an example of this. If you are a true celiac this could make you sick.

    • Erin @ Texanerin Baking — January 16th, 2015 at 11:54 am

      Thanks for your comment, Cindy! I agree that celiacs should check the label of anything they want to buy. Nuts, seeds, beans, rice, chocolate, dried fruit – literally everything that comes in a package! You can never be too careful.

  10. Hanna — March 20, 2015 at 11:02 pm

    Hi! This recipe looks amazing! But I was wondering if I could substitute coconut cream for the heavy cream as we have dairy allergies in our family. Thanks!

    • Erin @ Texanerin Baking — March 22nd, 2015 at 10:17 am

      Thanks, Hanna! I haven’t tried that but I’m thinking it probably wouldn’t work. Making caramel (although this isn’t true caramel) can be tricky and I’m not too optimistic about making such a big change. Sorry about that! If you do try it, I wish you lots of luck and hope that you’ll enjoy the tarts. :)

  11. Debbie — April 18, 2015 at 10:23 pm

    Are tart pans like the mini and regular size cupcake pans? All I have are the cupcake pans will they work?

    • Erin @ Texanerin Baking — April 24th, 2015 at 9:23 am

      Sorry for the slow reply, Debbie! Hopefully you saw in the instructions that a normal muffin pan is used. I hope you enjoyed them if you tried them! :)

  12. Debbie — April 24, 2015 at 11:07 pm

    Erin, I’m sorry I didn’t see it in the instructions. Guess I need to read them a little bit closer. Thank you for the reply. And I m going to try them this weekend.

    • Erin @ Texanerin Baking — April 26th, 2015 at 2:44 pm

      No problem! I just meant hopefully you saw it before you went out and bought mini tart pans. :) I hope they came out well!

  13. Rita A. — May 26, 2015 at 11:54 am

    These beauties look so decadent and simply amazing! Pecan-caramel and gluten free! Love it! :) bookmarking these one!

    • Erin @ Texanerin Baking — May 27th, 2015 at 9:17 am

      Thanks so much, Rita! I hope you’ll enjoy them if you get a chance to try them out. :)

  14. Nat — June 7, 2015 at 9:37 pm

    I had to read the recipe a few times, I don’t bake much and was confused how you wrote the recipe on the filing.

    • Erin @ Texanerin Baking — June 8th, 2015 at 11:24 am

      I’m sorry you found that part confusing! Is it all clear now or is there anything I can help you with? :)

  15. Rosie — October 14, 2015 at 9:38 am

    World’s easiest caramel recipe came from work decades ago when we told one of the kids to boil sweeten condensed milk (it makes a prefect caramel without adding anything)  Well he did in the cans.  That’s when we discovered that simmering an unopened can for a couple hours creates at perfect caramel.  You can’t scorch it, you can’t burn it just cover with water, bring it to a boil and turn it down to simmer and let it go for about 45 minutes perfect every time

    • Erin — October 16th, 2015 at 12:55 pm

      Thanks for the tip! I’ve made homemade dulce de leche that way before and it’s so fun opening up the can. :) I read a few stories about exploding cans so now I just do it in the oven (here’s how). Thanks for your comment!

  16. Nikki — October 19, 2015 at 4:02 am

    Did a trial run of these to see how they worked out for New Year dinner dessert. I had quite a few eager taste testers and they all thought they were delicious. 3 people asked for the recipe so all in all they were a serious hit!! I now know what I am doing for dessert on New Year.

    • Erin — October 19th, 2015 at 5:20 am

      That’s awesome! I’m so happy that they were enjoyed. And that’s impressive that you’re working so far ahead. I haven’t even gotten around to doing a trial run for Halloween yet. ;) Thanks so much for your feedback!

  17. Cinda — November 12, 2015 at 9:51 am

    Do you think I could substitute coconut sugar instead of the brown sugar?

    • Erin — November 12th, 2015 at 10:08 am

      I actually just made a vegan adaption of the filling with coconut sugar, milk and oil and that worked beautifully. I haven’t tried the coconut sugar + cream combination but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. I hope you’ll enjoy the tarts. :)

  18. Isabelle — November 24, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    I don’t know what I did wrong but the no-fail caramel has not thickened up at all! Do you have any suggestions? Other caramel recipes? I swirled the pan around a couple of times. Could that have ruined it?
    Help!

    • Erin — November 24th, 2015 at 3:51 pm

      I’m sorry it’s not working! Did you make any subs? I once tried this with something like half-and-half and had that problem because half-and-half just isn’t thick enough. The same happens if you use a different type of fat (so something low-fat instead of regular butter). I’ve made this caramel so many times and those were the only times when it didn’t work. I’m afraid I don’t know of another caramel recipe that’d give you the right thickness and consistency for these tarts. If you use a regular caramel sauce recipe, I think the caramel would completely stick to the liners. The caramel thickens quite a bit as it cools so I hope it’ll thick up properly during that time. If it doesn’t, I recommend letting it boil a few more minutes to see if that helps. Good luck!

  19. Isabelle — November 24, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    BINGO! I had two containers in the fridge and I grabbed the half & half instead of the cream!! I don’t think I would have noticed if you hadn’t mentioned it. Thanks! 

    • Erin — November 24th, 2015 at 4:26 pm

      Awesome! I’m so happy we could get that figured out. Good luck with the next batch! :)

  20. Lisa — November 24, 2015 at 6:49 pm

    I just made these in place of Pecan Pie for Thanksgiving.  My caramel did not thicken at all and I did not sub anything.  Not sure what happened.  I put it back on the stove and brought it to a soft ball temp of 134, stirred in the nuts and spooned it on the crusts.  Worked perfect!  I did use the metallic cupcake liners and they came off just fine.  One less thing to do Thanksgiving afternoon.  Thanks for the great recipe!

    • Erin — November 25th, 2015 at 1:55 am

      If you didn’t make any subs, the only thing I can think of is that you didn’t pack the dark brown sugar enough. If you try them again, weigh out 180 grams. If that still doesn’t work, then there must be an odd ingredients situation. You didn’t use European style butter, did you? Two people have left feedback on the post I did for these on my own blog, and it worked for them so I’m not sure what else it could be. But I’m so happy that you were able to make it work out! Thank goodness you knew what temperature to bring it to to make it thicken up. Happy Thanksgiving. :)

  21. Cinda — November 27, 2015 at 8:49 am

    These were fantastic!  I chickened out on using the coconut sugar and made as is for Thanksgiving. They were a hit.  The BF even just had one for breakfast a few minutes ago :-).  I think next time I’ll try making them in the mini muffin tins if I make them to have as part of a sampler dessert tray.  Even the muffin size is big!  This is a keeper recipe.  Thank you, Erin!

    • Erin — November 27th, 2015 at 9:18 am

      I’m so happy that they turned out well and were such a hit! I bet these would be great in a mini muffin tin, although I don’t know if I’d have the patience. ;) Thanks a ton for your feedback and I hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

  22. Michelle — December 14, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    Hi. I am wondering if you have tried, or if you think it would work, substituting coconut sugar for brown sugar?
    Thanks.

    • Erin — December 14th, 2015 at 6:28 pm

      Hi Michelle! I’m pretty sure it’d work but I haven’t tried it. If you use coconut sugar, be sure to really pack the measuring cup full. I hope you’ll enjoy the tarts!

  23. Ashley — December 20, 2015 at 7:34 pm

    These are awesome. After a number of gluten-free baking disasters, these turned out great! So excited to bring these for Christmas dinner.

    • Erin — December 20th, 2015 at 9:47 pm

      Gluten-free baking is definitely disaster-prone. I’m happy you found this recipe, though, and that you enjoyed the tarts! Thanks for your feedback. :)

  24. Matthew Alford — March 22, 2016 at 10:28 pm

    I just made these last night (I know I made the white chocolate cheesecake only last week) and I have to say they were stupendous. People did not believe me that they were gluten free. The crust was so delicious. Much thanks for all your recipes. My friend with celiac disease thanks you as well.

    • Jamie — March 23rd, 2016 at 8:44 am

      You’re very welcome, Matthew! I’m glad your friend enjoyed it as well. Take care!

  25. Cyd — March 27, 2016 at 9:54 pm

    I made these for my Mom who has Celiac and they were a HUGE hit!  My husband and I also loved them and you would never know they are gluten free.  I used all walnuts instead of pecans and I also made a substitution for the coconut flour.  I just whirred some unsweetened coconut in the food processor and used about four tbsp of that mixture instead.  I also only used 1 tsp of cinnamon because I didn’t want it too pronounced.  I cooked the crusts for an extra couple of minutes and these were simply perfection!
    They looked just like the pictures!

    • Erin — March 28th, 2016 at 3:46 am

      It’s good to know that walnuts work just as well! And just to clarify for anyone else who wants to try your coconut flour sub – you used 1/4 cup of the ground up coconut (instead of 4 teaspoons of coconut flour)? I’m surprised that worked so good for you for experimenting. :) I’m so happy that you all enjoyed the tarts! Thanks a bunch for your comment.

  26. Paula — April 10, 2016 at 8:43 am

    Had trouble getting the cake to stay together.  Even baked them a little longer but they fell apart.  Any suggestions

    • Erin — April 10th, 2016 at 9:04 am

      Do you mean the crusts? Did you make any substitutions or changes to the recipe at all? If so, that could explain it. If you followed the recipe exactly, I’m not sure what the problem could be. I hope that they were still delicious!

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