Sunday, December 22, 2013

Glorified Butter Tarts

Perhaps it’s my quirky sense of humor, but whenever I think about why this recipe caught my eye, I always smile. Clipping it from The Brandon Sun in Autumn, 1967, I was drawn to it by a headline: Butter Tarts a Dream Come True

A dream come true??? I love butter tarts and make them every Christmas, but suspect the headline
’s author had a deeper relationship with butter tarts than I do. All these years later, Istill smiling. 

Im glad the headline grabbed my attention. Although I have many butter tart recipes, this one is head and shoulders above the rest. The filling is beautifully gooey and not overly sweet, and the simple, no-roll pastry is hugely appealing. I’ve certainly used purchased, frozen shells to make butter tarts, but the pastry for this recipe is so quick and easy to make that it’s … it’s … a dream come true! 

Glorified Butter Tarts:

To Prepare the Pastry:

4 oz. (125 g) cream cheese, softened

½ c. butter, softened (no substitutes)
1-¼ c. all-purpose flour

Using electric mixer, cream cheese and butter together. Add flour slowly, continuing to blend. Roll dough into 1-in. balls for 2-in. tart pans. Roll into 1-½-in. balls for 2-¾ in. tart pans (My large tart pans have a detachable bottom for fail-safe pastry removal. If you dont own these or at the very least, non-stick tart pans, theyre well worth buying). Press ball of pastry into each individual tart form, using fingers to ensure pastry evenly meets top edges of pan. Cover and set aside in fridge or freezer.

To Prepare the Filling:

1 large egg

1 tbsp. butter, softened
¾ c. light brown sugar
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
⅔ c. finely chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted 

Preheat oven to 325 deg, F. Using electric mixer, beat together all filling ingredients except pecans. Stir in pecans, spooning filling evenly into pastry-lined pans. This will seem like too little filling, but it will puff up as it bakes. Bake small tarts about 22 min. and medium tarts about 28 min. Cool tarts on wire rack before removing from pans. This recipe makes about 8 large tarts or about 15 small tarts. 

Pans with detachable bottoms make tarts easy to remove.

Roll pastry into ball. Flatten between palms ...

And press into tart pan, allowing edges to overhang.

Slice away overhanging pastry. 

Cover and set aside while preparing filling.

Add and beat all filling ingredients except nuts.

Chop toasted pecans finely.

Stir in finely chopped toasted pecans.

Spoon in buttery filling. Bake. 
Cool on wire rack. These freeze well for up to two weeks. 

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