- 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 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)
In food processor, place 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 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 dough onto a 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 dough has chilled sufficiently, place on lightly floured surface, roll out dough and cut into 12 – 4 inch rounds. (To prevent pastry from sticking to counter and to ensure uniform thickness, keep lifting up and turning 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 dough.
In bowl of electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and then vanilla extract. Stir in cream. If using nuts and/or raisins, place a spoonful in the bottom of each tart shell and then fill unbaked tart shells with filling. Bake at 375° for about 15 – 20 minutes or until pastry has nicely browned and 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.
Butter tarts are unique to Canada and consist of flaky pastry shells that are filled with a sweet mixture of butter, brown sugar and eggs. There are many opinions as to what makes the perfect butter tart. What is the best pastry crust? Should the filling be firm or runny and should it contain raisins or nuts? So proud are some Canadians of their butter tarts that even today at county fairs there are special awards for the best butter tarts, and this award is vied for and coveted by the winner. Butter tarts are always small, not to be eaten daintily with a fork but picked up and eaten in a few delicious bites. These little gems are excellent warm from the oven, at room temperature, or even chilled.
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