Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cake of the Week: Butter Tarts

I first experienced these tarts of buttery nutty goodness at the LOTR Hobbit Party (they pair quite nicely with Cakeballs!). And then they mysteriously appeared in my fridge after a long Tuesday’s workday.

Do you believe in the butter tart fairy? Out there looking over us, delivering rich and nutty cups of awesomeness to those most in need?

I do.

I believe she’s looking out for my sweet tooth, creating late-night butter tart-storms in my kitchen. I believe she is the pixie of pastry, the bogie of butter, the nisse of nuts, the siren of sugar, and the goddess of goodness in butter tart form!

Basically, she's LLC - reliably bringing me baked goods whenever I'm not baking myself. 

So here’s the recipe, if you feel the urge to become a Butter Tart fairy yourself...

Butter Tarts from Joy of Baking

Pate Brisee (Short Crust Pastry)

1 1/4 cups (175 grams) all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon (14 grams) granulated white sugar

1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, chilled, and cut into 1 inch (2.54 cm) pieces

1/8 to 1/4 cup (30 - 60 ml) ice water

Butter Tart Filling:

1/3 cup (70 grams) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup (215 grams) light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup (60 ml) light cream (half-and-half) (10% butterfat)

1/2 cup raisins or 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts (toasted and chopped) (optional)


Pate Brisee:  In a food processor, place the flour, salt, and sugar and process until combined. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal (about 15 seconds). Pour 1/8 cup (30 ml) water in a slow, steady stream, through the feed tube until the dough just holds together when pinched.  If necessary, add more water. Do not process more than 30 seconds.

Turn the dough onto your work surface and gather into a ball. Flatten into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about one hour before using. This will chill the butter and relax the gluten in the flour. 

After the dough has chilled sufficiently, place on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough and cut into 12 - 4 inch (10 cm) rounds. (To prevent the pastry from sticking to the counter and to ensure uniform thickness, keep lifting up and turning the pastry a quarter turn as you roll (always roll from the center of the pastry outwards).) Gently place the rounds into a 12-cup muffin tin. Cover and place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to firm up the dough. Next, make the filling.

Butter Tart Filling: In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then the vanilla extract. Stir in the cream. If using nuts and/or raisins, place a spoonful in the bottom of each tart shell and then fill the unbaked tart shells with the filling. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for about 15 - 20 minutes or until the pastry has nicely browned and the filling is set. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Makes 12 - 4 inch tarts.

Brush up on your Butter Tart trivia by listening to this CBC radio program