This is what I imagine I look like when I’m standing around dreaming about Butter Tarts…
Mmm, with Pecans, sweetheart!
Oh! With Cherries and Candied Ginger!
The other day, when the kids wanted to host a Tea Party for themselves and their stuffed animals [i.e. when, sick of overprocessed Halloween junk, they wanted an excuse to bake something real] I decided, heck, why not! Let’s have a GINGER TEA PARTY. Let’s make our amazing Soft Gingerbread Crackle Cookies with Candied Ginger Bits. Oh, and, maybe, another Fruit Galette with Honeyed Ginger and St. Germain. Oh, and I should also make some Ginger Cognac Cranberry Sauce to serve and jar for holiday gifts. Then, of course, I remembered those absolutely amazing butter tarts we got from Madelyn’s on our trip to Stratford this summer, and I was like…..Oh yeah….BUTTER TARTS! Butter tarts three ways. Simple, Plain, and Cherry Ginger! Cherry Ginger Butter Tarts? Why the heck not!
So, dear reader, I made them!
Now, you can, too!
Butter Tarts Three Ways : Plain, Pecan, and Cherry Ginger
ALL BUTTER CRUST
- 1 cup cold unsalted butter
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups ice water [you'll only use about half of it]
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup corn syrup
- 1 egg
- 3 tbsp butter melted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
- 1 pinch salt
- Nothing or 12 raisins or currants
- ~ 1/4 cup pecan halves some of them broken up
CHERRY GINGER TARTS
- ~ 1/8 cup chopped candied ginger slices
- ~24 cherries [we used defrosted frozen]
PREPARE THE CRUST
- Cube the butter in 1/4 inch chunks and place it back in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- In a large bowl or food processor blend the flour, sugar, and salt.
- With a pastry cutter or food processor blend the butter into the flour mixture until you form pea-sized clumps or meal. [Remove the mixture from the food processor to a mixing bowl].
- Sprinkle about 1/3 cup of the water [without the ice] over the mixture and stir with a rubber spatula or scraper until the dough begins to gather together in larger clumps.
- Continue sprinkling cold water by the tablespoonful and stirring with the spatula until the dough begins to form large clouds or stringly clumps. [You will need anywhere from 8-14 more tbs water. I typically use another 2/3 cup of ice water, such that the total water used is 1 cup.]
- With your hands, gently knead the dough into a still-somewhat-stringy ball.
- Divide the dough in half and wrap each ball in cling wrap, pressing down into a disk.
- Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.
- Preheat the oven to 400.
- On a lightly floured surface, or, between two sheets of floured wax paper, roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness.
- Using a 4-inch round inch cutter [we used a clean, large can that once held pumpkin purée], cut 12 circles.
- Gently press the circles into the holes of a regular sized muffin tin, crimping around the edges as needed.
- In a bowl, whisk together the sugar, syrup, egg, butter, vanilla, vinegar, and salt until combined.
- For plain tarts, place either nothing or a raisin or currant in the bottom of each tart shell.
- For cherry ginger tarts, place 2 cherries and a few ginger bits in the bottom of each tart shell.
- For all tarts: fill up to about 7/8 full with sugar filling.
- For pecan tarts, top with as many pecan pieces as you see fit.
- Have you preheated your oven to 400 as directed above? If not, do so now.
- Bake the tin of tarts on the lower middle or lower rack of the oven for 12-14 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven and begin to cool the tin on wire racks.
- Do not try to remove the tarts from the pan at this time, as they will overflow and leak!
- In the meantime, set your oven to 325-350, perhaps opening the oven door for a while to allow it to decrease to this temperature in good time.
- After about 10-15 minutes of cooling, very, very, very carefully, slide a knife into the tin beside just one of the tarts [preferably the ugliest one or the one YOU are going to want to reserve as your cook's treat] to see if your tarts are adequately browned on sides and bottoms. Warning! The tart may overflow a bit!
- If your tarts are not brown enough for your liking, return them to the oven and bake for anywhere from 10-30 minutes to allow for the crusts to go all golden on the bottoms and sides. Again, you will want to identify and use the tester tart you used the first time, so as not to spill any of the filling in the remaining batch.
If you like a thicker filling, you can equally raise the sugar content and decrease the corn syrup content to complete the 1 cup.
Since moving the tarts around in the pan before they cool tends to cause spill-over of the ooey goey filling, it is best to use just one of your tarts as your "test" subject to check for doneness of the bottom and sides.
So far, I have found that the second low slow bake does not make my tarts burn on top or thicken too much inside.
Isn’t it romantic?