Best buttertart quest: part three

October 28, 2008

I’ve made it to the end, gentle readers. I’ve created what is, for my merry band of tasters at least, the ULTIMATE BUTTER TART!

What makes this tart worthy of such a moniker?
• The pastry is ultra flaky and completely unsweetened so that it’s a perfect foil for the very sweet filling.
• The filling is gooey but softly set so that there is no dripping.
• The filling has a buttery but nuanced flavour with a positive, non-sugary after taste.
• The tarts are bigger than most so they fulfill a craving completely (after all, if you’re going to eat a tart, make it worth your while!).
• They freeze beautifully so that you can always have them ready and waiting for your next craving!

My recipe does have one flaw that I’ve decided to accept since the end results are so delicious: the recipe below makes enough filling to make a baker’s dozen (that’s 13 tarts). I recommend using a ramekin to make that baker’s tart for yourself from the pastry scraps.

Dana’s Best Butter Tart

ice cubes
2 1/2 cups (625 mL) all-purpose flour
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
1 cup (250 mL) cold lard or shortening (8 oz/250 g)
1 tsp (5 mL) white vinegar or lemon juice
1 egg, beaten
1 cup (250 mL) each softened unsalted butter, lightly packed dark brown sugar and Lyle’s golden syrup
2 large eggs, beaten
2 tsp (10 mL) pure vanilla extract
11/2 tsp (7 mL) fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
1/16 tsp (pinch) grated nutmeg
1/2 cup (125 mL) soaked, drained dried currants

Place three ice cubes in a measuring cup and add enough water to cover. Set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine the flour and salt. Blend well. Cut the cold lard into cubes and add to the food processor. Use the pulse button to cut in the lard just until the mixture resembles large flake oatmeal.

In a glass measuring cup, whisk the vinegar and the egg. Add enough of the reserved ice water to make ½ cup (125 mL). With the motor of the food processor running, pour in the egg mixture. Blend until the mixture forms a ball.

Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap. If necessary, knead to make a smooth ball. Press into a disk and wrap tightly. Refrigerate for 45 minutes. Roll out dough to 3/8-inch thickness adding extra flour to prevent sticking. Cut to fit 5 oz (125 mL) muffin tins using a 6-inch (18-cm) cutter. Refrigerate until ready to fill.

Preheat the oven to 450°F (225°C). Beat the butter until light; beat in the brown sugar until fluffy. Add the syrup and beat until smooth. Beat in the eggs, lemon juice, vanilla and nutmeg.

Divide the currants evenly between the pastry cups. Spoon in the filling, adding just enough to each cup that it is filled but a band of pastry still shows around the edges (you should have enough filling left over to fill a 13th tart).

Bake on the lowest oven rack for 10 minutes; reduce the temperature to 350°F (180°C) and bake for 20 to 25 minutes longer or until pastry is golden and the filling in each cup has bubbled and darkened.

Remove pan from oven and use a skewer to remove any overspill that will harden as the tarts cool. Cool tarts in pan for 15 minutes. Gently remove from pans using a palette knife and cool on a rack for at least 2 hours (the pastry needs to fully set). Makes 12 (4.5 to 5 oz) tarts.