I found this 1940's picture of my great aunt Dava [Barbaresi] Catone, so I thought I’d post it even though it’s out of chronological order. Dava is holding my Aunt Margaret, who was the daughter of her sister Dora [Barbaresi] and Freddie Donroe, before her baptism (I’m guessing it was before the blessed event since the baby seems peaceful and blissfully dry about the head).
Dava was Margaret’s godmother, but what makes this picture astoundingly prophetic is that Margaret’s godfather, standing next to Dava, was her father’s brother, Albert Donroe. Soon after, he became Margaret’s stepfather when his brother was killed in World War II. Confused, yet? The backstory is here, in case you missed it. If that doesn’t help, maybe a cookie will.
Back to Dava. Pecan tassies were among the fabulous cookies that she produced by the bushel for various family gatherings. Others included: chocolate spice cookies, coconut meltaways, and chocolate chip cream cheese cookies. More to come.
These particular cookies are like bite-sized pecan pies, though I’d recommend spreading out the enjoyment over more than one bite or they’ll be gone WAY to fast. That’s just me. Baked as they are in miniature muffin tins, using paper liners will spare you some cursing later on when you try to pry them out. Especially if you’re making them for something like a baptism (pssst…priests don’t like the cursing).
These are one of my favorite Dava cookies.
2 sticks oleo (or butter)
2 3-oz. packages of cream cheese (or shave 2 oz. off of an 8-oz. package)
2 cups flour
1 lb. brown sugar
3 Tbsp. melted oleo (or butter)
½ tsp. vanilla
1¾ cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350°F.
For crust, cream together oleo and cream cheese in a large bowl. Add flour gradually and mix with a fork. Chill 2 hours (much longer and it will get annoyingly stiff). Place a piece of dough the size of a walnut in muffin tins. Does anyone know how big a walnut is anymore? Think cherry tomato. Press dough ball so that it forms a cup against the bottom and sides of the muffin liner. The deeper the depression, the more filling can fit inside. I’m just saying.
For the filling, beat eggs in another large bowl. Add brown sugar, oleo, vanilla, and salt. Sprinkle a few chopped nuts on the bottom of each dough cup, spoon filling almost to the top, and sprinkle with more nuts. Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes, 325°F for 10 minutes. Cool. Remove from pan.
Makes four dozen.
Dava [Barbaresi] Catone
New Haven, Connecticut - Hamden, Connecticut
1921 - 1998
Next Recipe: Bambury Tarts
(Previous Recipe: Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Cookies)