Thursday, June 13, 2013

Bake of the Week: Beautiful Butter Tarts

It is said that the quintessential Canadian dessert is the butter tart; and I couldn't agree more. Not only did the recipe originate here (in fact the oldest known published recipe was written locally here in Barrie, and was circulated in the Royal Victoria Hospital's Woman's Auxiliary Cookbook circa 1900), but one of the main traditional ingredients is maple syrup. Can you get any more Canadian?

Alas, the majority of recipes I found online called for corn syrup, not maple! Even one recipe that supposedly won Ontario's Best did not use maple. I suppose cost had something to do with the reasoning; yet for myself I chose the more traditional route and below is a combination of two recipes that worked very well.

So in honor of the upcoming Butter Tart Festival I tried for the very first time my hand at making these delicious (and devilish!) sweets!

Maple Syrup Butter Tarts

1-1/2 cups (375 mL) all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
1/4 cup (60 mL) cold butter, cubed
1/4 cup (60 mL) lard or butter, cubed
1 egg yolk
1 tsp (5 mL) vinegar
Ice water

3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 egg
2 tbsp (30 mL) butter, softened
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
1 tsp (5 mL) vinegar
1 pinch salt

In large bowl, whisk flour with salt. With pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in butter and lard until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with a few larger pieces.

In liquid measure, whisk egg yolk with vinegar; add enough ice water to make 1/3 cup (75 mL). Sprinkle over flour mixture, stirring briskly with fork until pastry holds together. Press into disc; wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour. Make-ahead: Refrigerate for up to 3 days.

In bowl, whisk together brown sugar, corn syrup, egg, butter, vanilla, vinegar and salt until blended; set aside.

On lightly floured surface, roll out pastry to 1/8-inch (3 mm) thickness. Using 4-inch (10 cm) round cookie cutter (or empty 28 oz/796 mL can), cut out 12 circles, rerolling scraps once if necessary. Fit into 2-3/4- x 1-1/4-inch (7 x 3 cm) muffin cups. Spoon in filling until three-quarters full.

Bake in bottom third of 425 F (230 C) oven until filling is puffed and bubbly and pastry is golden, about 12 minutes. Let stand on rack for 1 minute. Run metal spatula around tarts to loosen; carefully slide spatula under tarts and transfer to rack to let cool.

You can add a handfull of pecans, walnuts or raisins to the cups before adding filling for a bit of variety.

Edit: this filling turned out much better, though you need double the pastry dough.

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