Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Butter Tarts

“It’s simple, really.”  That was the claim from the folks at Style at Home Magazine about the butter tart recipe they had in their January issue.  Sounds like a challenge to me! 
Now I know we’ve been a bit recipe heavy lately, and I typically don’t post food entries, but seriously, I’m pregnant and hungry - cut me some slack. ;) As a heads-up, there will be a homemade donair recipe coming from me soon too.

My hubby loves butter tarts.  Correction, my hubby loves baked goods.  Can I blame this urge to try the recipe on him?  Regardless, butter tarts are delicious, the recipe claims it’s easy, and I have company coming for dinner and I’m too lazy to make a cake.

Before leaving for work, I checked the ingredient list to see what I’d need to grab at the grocery store on my way home from work.  Nothing!  Fantastic – I LOVE recipes that call for ingredients I already have on hand!  If this really is as simple as they claim, my hips could be in big trouble!
What you’ll need:
(For the pastry)
1 ¼ c. all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
½ c. unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
4 to 8 tbsp ice water

(For the filling)
¼  c. unsalted butter, softened
¼ c. packed brown sugar
¼ tsp salt
½ c. corn syrup
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ tsp pure vanilla extract

I didn’t want to get hubby’s hopes up, so the plan was to keep the whole thing hush, hush.  I generally have an hour or so home alone after work before he arrives so I wanted to have everything finished before he called to say he was on his way.  I know that I’ve tried to stick to the “30 minutes or less” promise with previous posts, but this was a new recipe so I gave myself a buffer.

First, the pastry.  I know that people say pastry is tricky, and it is; but like with so many other things, my motto is “ignorance is bliss” in this situation.  I just go ahead and assume it will be fine.  Making pastry doesn’t typically give me issues; trying to line up a double-crust pie properly and make it look nice, that’s another story.

Into my beautiful new Kitchen Aid went the flour, salt and sugar.  With the mixer on low, I added the butter cubes and processed until the mixture was crumbly.  Without turning off the mixer, I slowly poured 4 tablespoons of ice water.  The dough should just hold together.  You may need to add up to 4 more tablespoons. 
Don’t overwork the dough!  Then I rolled the dough into a ball and refrigerated it for 30 minutes.
After setting the oven to 400oF, I rolled out the dough on my lightly floured countertop and tried to get it as close to 1/8” thick.  Using a circular cookie cutter (4” in diameter), I cut out 16 circles of dough and fit them into muffin tins.  These then went into the fridge while I prepared the filling.  Note – these will be “obviously homemade” given the lack of perfection in the way I was able to get the dough into the tins.
To prepare the filling, I whisked together all of the ingredients.  If you hate working with ingredients like corn syrup or molasses, try rinsing the measuring cup with hot water before measuring out your ingredient.

Once mixed, I took the shells out of the fridge and divided the filling as evenly as I could between the shells and baked for 15-20 minutes.  The mixture was still bubbly when I took them out of the oven so I used the pastry as the gauge for readiness.
I removed the tarts from the pans after letting them cool for 10 minutes or so, and then let them cool completely on racks.  In the end, it took me 15 minutes longer than I had hoped.  Not too bad for a first try!
Verdict: Now, the recipe says it will make 16 tarts.  In my opinion, there’s not enough pastry or filling for 16.  Next time, I’m going to make a dozen and hope for the best!  But regardless - my hips are in BIG trouble!! 

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