Sunday, December 19, 2010

Butter Tarts

Last night was a bit unbelievable. But, the story starts at the beginning of the week. Knowing we had this party to attend on Saturday evening, I started thinking of what food I might make to bring. I was watching a(nother) recorded episode of "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" which showed chefs making their very favorite item for the holidays. One chef was making butter tarts, which I had never heard of before, but how could something called a butter tart be anything but great, right? I watched him make dough with lots of butter, and a filling of brown sugar, raisins and more butter. Sold!

Immediately I thought "I need to make these!" and then quickly remembered the upcoming party. Perfect! Because any recipe that uses nearly a pound of butter should definitely be shared with friends, and preferably brought to someone else's house to avoid eating all the leftovers!
We arrived at the party on Saturday evening with an over-sized platter of warm tarts. As I found a place to set the tray down, I explained that these were call butter tarts and that I learned about them from watching a tv show earlier in the week.

Now, here's where things took a turn for the unbelievable. The guys at the party knew what they were! See, the party was full of hockey friends, many of whom are Canadian. And, apparently butter tarts are traditional Canadian treat!! Crazy. What are the odds of randomly picking a brand new recipe to try out for a party, and it turns out to be a favorite of the host and their guests?

Butter Tarts
Inspired by Beau MacMillan's Carmelized Butter Tarts

Chez Pim's perfect pie dough
Since I can't do a better job of blogging the 'how to' than Pim already has, use her site for a perfect pie crust tutorial to see how simple ingredients with a straightforward technique can yield an unbelievable crust.

1/3 Cup butter
1 Cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons milk
1 egg
1/2 cup raisins
1 teaspoon vanilla

Divide dough into 18 pieces and press into tart pans. Put pans with dough in the fridge until ready to fill.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Cover raisins with hot water and let stand. Melt the butter, brown sugar and milk in saucepan and stir until the sugar starts to dissolve. Take the pan off the heat and allow to cool. Add vanilla, whisk in the egg and (drained) raisins.

Divide the filling among the tarts and bake until bubbly, about 25 minutes.

*Some notes- I used muffin pans, doubled the filling recipe above, and divided the dough into 24 pieces. I also par-baked the crust, which I would not do again, as some of the filling seeped out and practically cemented itself to the bake sheet. With that thought, I checked other recipes and discovered that some cream the butter & brown sugar instead of melting it on the stovetop, so that might help keep things in place next time. And there *will* be a next time.

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