Pumpkin Tarts

By Julie

Time: 40 min

Serves: 15 tarts

It’s that time of year when all things pumpkin come out.  Admittedly, I think it’s going  a little overboard lately.  Tim Hortons started peddling their pumpkin wares in August this year and the pumpkin spice crazy is getting a little bit over-done.  I do like some traditional pumpkin pie, but I also love the versatility of tarts.  I like how they are small, personal portions and how pretty they are with their rustic dough.  You can make your dough prettier by using a cutter and folding it and forming it properly with a rounded spoon, but I like the folded look with the uneven edges.  It shouts, “hey!  I’m homemade”.  Don’t make your pastry too thin however, the filling is heavy and they need some sturdy support.  The goal is to roll them just shy of a quarter-inch.  My favourite part of pumpkin pie is the warm spices.  I like it spicy.

You Will Need:

  • One tart pastry recipe – you will have enough filling for 15 tarts or so.  I used the pastry from Maple Raisin Butter Tarts.  This is my universal tart dough.
  • 1 cup brown sugar.  I used dark but light is fine
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 2 eggs slightly beaten
  • 14oz of pureed pumpkin.  Canned is fine
  • 1/2 cup of evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream

The cream is important.  You want the filling to stiffen on baking so it holds up in the tart shells

Prep

Grease your muffin tins, I used a full 12 plus a 6 to use up all of this filling.  I ended up with 15 tarts.  Preheat oven 450F.

Make The Filling

Mix the brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves together in a large bowl.  I used a mixer but it is not necessary.  Add eggs and mix until incorporated.  Mix in pumpkin, then add milk and cream.

Bake

Fill the tart shells 3/4 full.  Use an egg-wash if you like shiny pastry.  Bake at 400 for 15 min then reduce to 350 for 20-25 min.  Your tarts should be set and nicely browned.  Jiggle the pan to make sure the center is set.  It should be stiff.  Let cool completely in tart shells before removing.  Serve the same day.  These will keep for a few days in the fridge but once you go there the pastry will soften some but still be delicious.  Top with a generous portion of whipped cream because it’s delicious and why wouldn’t you?  This recipe also works just fine in a 9 inch pie shell.

Advertisements

Flaky, Tender, Tasty Pie Crust

By: Julie

Serves: 1 double crust pie

Time: 10 min prep, 1 hour chill

When I first went on maternity leave, I was determined to learn how to bake better.  Specifically, how to make a pie at the drop of a hat.  I tried many different recipes, each promising to be tender, flaky, and still taste good.  That’s the trick you know.  Tender is easy, flaky is easy, tasty is easy, but all three at the same time is HARD.

I learned a lot while I was experimenting.  Flavor comes from butter, but an all butter crust is tricky and almost impossible to keep from over-working into something you will have to cut with a steak knife.  Tenderness can be achieved by using shortening, but it’s bland and tastes like cardboard.  Flakiness comes from working the butter in with knives, by hand, or with a pastry blender.  You can use a mixer, but it’s never as good.  The addition of vinegar or lemon juice breaks down the gluten strands, helping with tenderness, but also makes the pastry harder to work with because it becomes delicate.  Anna Olsen uses an egg in her recipe which is supposed to help elasticity, but I didn’t like the result when I tried it.  So here is what I use, it’s consistent, and once you get a feel for the texture of the dough, it works every time.

You Will Need:

  • 3 Cups Of Flour
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 5-7 tbsp ice water
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup butter, chilled, and cut into small chunks

Prepare The Dough

Whisk the flour, salt and sugar together in a large, wide bowl.  Add the butter and the shortening and cut into the flour mixture until it begins to look flaky and most of the butter pieces are pea-sized.  Sprinkle the vinegar and water over top.  Mix lightly with a fork. You are looking for a consistency that will still look a bit dry, but when you squeeze it in your hand it holds its shape easily.  This may take some practice.  Shape into two equal discs, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 1 hour.  You’re ready to roll!

 

 

 

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.