Maple Raisin Butter Tarts

By Julie

Time:  2 hours: 1 hour prep and bake, 1 hour chill time for pastry (optional if using store bought)

Serves:  Makes 12 tarts

My mom makes delicious butter tarts by substituting maple syrup for corn syrup.  I tried to make one with just maple syrup, but I found I didn’t enjoy them as much as the corn syrup, maple ratio.  To me, the perfect butter tart is runny, a sensuous combination of salty and sweet, and has delicious golden raisins. Store bought crust is fine, but there really is no substitution for homemade tart pastry.  This one is very forgiving and easy to roll so give it a try.

You Will Need

For the Pastry:

  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp of sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup of cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp ice water

For the Filling:

  • 3/4 cup of brown sugar ( I used dark because i like the flavor better, but use what you have on hand)
  • 1/4 cup of real maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup of corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup of butter, melted, browned, and cooled
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp of real vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup of golden raisins (thompsons will work also if that’s what you have

 

Make the Pastry

Yay for using a mixer!  Lots of bakers will go on about the merits of making dough by hand.  Learning how is important because you need to appreciate what really good pastry feels like in each stage so that you learn how to ensure the right flour to water consistency, but this one is super forgiving and is fine in your mixer.  Use the paddle attachment and combine the flour, sugar, and salt.  Add the butter pieces and mix until it looks crumbly but you still have some larger butter pieces.  This is what makes a flakey dough, when the butter melts in the oven and creates air pockets.  Whisk the egg with the water and add it to your mixture.  Use the mix setting until dough comes together.  Shape it into two logs, like you’re going to make slice cookies, and wrap it in plastic.  Chill for at least an hour to make sure that butter is cold and the gluten relaxed before you roll it out.

Remove the dough from the fridge and preheat your oven to 400F.  Grease a 12 cup muffin pan, and lightly flour your work surface.  Cut your pastry logs into 12 equal portions and roll into circles.  Place each circle in the muffin cups gently.  Overlap is ok, just make sure you maneuver the dough into the bottom of the cups.  Gently push the seams together.  Let your dough lay over the top of the muffin cups a bit.  Cut off any excess (you don’t want the crust of one tart touching another).  Place tray in the fridge to cool for 20 minutes while you make the filling to prevent shrinkage. You want that butter to be cold when it hits the oven.

Make The Filling

Whisk the first 4 ingredients in a large bowl (preferably with a spout) until combined.  Add eggs, whisking in 1 at a time is easier to combine, then vinegar and vanilla.  Grab your shells from the fridge and place raisins in the bottom of each.  Fill just a smidge over 3/4 full with filling.  If you didn’t leave extra dough at the top of your cups, you may want to use a bit less filling so they don’t overflow.

Place the tarts in the oven and bake for 5 minutes, then, like a pie, reduce to 375 and continue baking for about 20 minutes.  You will see the tarts puff up or “dome”.  Cool completely before removing from pan.

This is the only recipe I will ever use for these.  I can’t make them that often because I am fully capable of eating all of them.  They keep well in an airtight container on the counter for a few days or chilled in the fridge.  They also freeze well.  Just be careful to thaw at room temperature.  A brief stay in the microwave turns the filling to molten lava and you’ll burn your face off.

Browned Butter and Maple Apple Crisp

By Julie

Time: 75min:  30min prep, 45 min baking

Serves 4-6

I love everything about apple crisp.  The tangy tartness of the apples, the sweet buttery crumb of the crisp, the syrupy sauce that only forms in the careful slow baking of pectin, sugar, and a little flour.  My grandmother used to put rhubarb in it, which I love even more, but sadly it’s December and I have long since used up my stash of frozen stalks.  However, not to worry, because it is the season of liquid gold (maple syrup) so we will give it a staring role in this dish.

A fruit crisp is a great way to bring a taste of summer into the long winter months.  It works great with fresh or thawed frozen fruit, and it’s a super quick desert to make.

Since I love everything about apple crisp and also have a slightly unhealthy addiction to browned butter, I decided that it would probably be heaven to combine the two.  Tyler brought home a cooler full of crisp, tiny apples of unknown variety from work and I needed to use them quickly as they are not waxed.  I do not hold their anonymity against them though for they are super crunchy, sweet, and delicious.  If you don’t have awesome anonymous apples, Gala works nicely here.

This is the first dessert I made without a recipe.  It took me several tries to get it the way I envisioned it, so we ate apple crisp for a week and one of them was completely inedible.  It is now, honestly, art.  The best crisp I’ve ever had, it’s frequently requested by my family.  I am dying for July fresh peaches so I can try them too. I’m not a super sweet dessert person, I like buttery sweet/salt combinations and my preferences are discernible in this recipe.  It works best in a small deep dish 1.5 quart casserole dish.  If using an 8×8 you need to double the recipe and use a deep pan.

You Will Need:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • enough apples to fill your dish.  About 7.
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup oats (rolled or quick, whatever you have will work)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

This magic happens in a slow 350 degree oven.  Preheat now.

First, Brown the Butter!  You could skip this step.. if you wanted to… you would be CRAZY.. but you could.  But don’t.  So, brown the butter.  Put a whole stick, or half a cup, into a small sauce pan over medium low heat.  On my burn-o-matic stove, it’s really low, but for you, it should be about the temperature that you use for pancakes.  DO NOT DESERT YOUR BUTTER!  For it happens quickly.  The butter will melt and turn a sunny yellow colour, foam and darken slowly, then the magic happens.  The butter solids separate and brown, turning your butter into something the colour of:  well, brown.  It will smell nutty, the solids will be sitting at the bottom.  Brown as much as you dare… don’t burn it.  Burned butter is bitter and not yummy at all.  As always, taste it to make sure.  It should taste slightly salty and caramely. If it’s bitter, you broke the rule, deserted it, and it’s burnt.  Start over.  Remove from heat immediately, transfer to a small bowl to halt the cooking process and put in the freezer to harden while you finish prepping. You want to be able to cut it into the crumble instead of just pouring it on.

Peel the Apples:  If you have a peeler, by all means use it.  I do.  Because I hate peeling apples almost as much as I hate doing dishes.  I used 7 small apples, but you want to fill your pan nearly to the top.  Slice thinly and top with a little lemon juice to keep them from browning. Place in a 1.5 quart baking dish, and toss with 1 tbsp of flour.   Add enough maple syrup to coat.  About 1/4 of a cup.  Toss and level the apples in the pan.

Make the Crumble:  In a medium bowl, combine:

  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Then add the brown butter, using a pastry blender to combine the butter with the dry ingredients until a crumbly mixture forms.  If it got too hard in the freezer feel free to soften it for a few seconds in the microwave but you want it cold.  Don’t melt it. Try not to eat it.

Assemble and Bake:  Double check to make sure your oven is preheated to 350F.  Spoon the crumble on top of the apples and press down lightly.  Pop in the oven and bake for 45 min.  Your sauce should be starting to bubble up around the edges and the top should be golden brown.  Serve warm as a dessert, add cream, or be brave like me and put it on a pancake so you can call it breakfast.  Because, well there’s fruit and syrup and why wouldn’t you?

Other Ideas: Please leave a comment and let me know how this worked for you.  Feel free to change, create, and inspire.  My only advice is don’t try granola… I did, and it would have been lovely, but raisins can only take so much punishment and 45 min on top of a crisp exposed to the heat was more than their shriveled skins could take.  I’ve also tried raisins in with the apples, fantastic, and dried cranberries.  Also fantastic.  Use what you have available and create something delicious to share.