Family Heirloom

An extra effort, rewarded

This month, Tasting Table is sweet on holiday cookies. This is the sixth in our 12-part series, the 12 Days of Cookies:

The involved and intricate desserts at just-opened Baltimore restaurant Wit & Wisdom don't resemble the ones our grandmothers made.

But pastry chef Chris Ford insists that his Grandma Josephine is his biggest influence–if not in practice, then in spirit.

Ford has a passion for turning nostalgic classics into refined pastry. One example is his reinvented version of a Baby Ruth bar. He traces his affinity for yesterday's traditions back to childhood, when he helped Josephine bake cookies and other treats before Thanksgiving and Christmas. "We'd give boxes to everyone," Ford recalls. "The mailman, the doctor, the mailman's doctor."

One of the stalwarts they prepared each year were pecan tassies, which Ford describes as tiny pecan pies. The tassies were among the more involved recipes in his grandmother's repertoire, since each cookie has to be individually formed and filled. But the extra time and effort pays off: Each year, the tassies are the first cookies to disappear.

After trying out the recipe (click here to see), we can understand why.