I have three siblings, all of whom are terrific cooks, and when we left home I was lucky enough to make off with my mother's handwritten cookbook. We all grew up learning to cook from its stained and tattered pages, so I'm surprised no one kicked up a fuss when I claimed it for my own.
Perhaps none of them know I have it, nevertheless, one of my favorite rainy day pastimes (who am I kidding, those don't exist in 2010) is to leaf through it and remember how we ate as kids - and how I cooked.
There are many favorite recipes, recipes that got me started on this whole gastronomical adventure. How many hundreds of times did I mix up Easy Wheat Pancakes or Quiche Lorraine? Crazy Chocolate Cake was my go-to one bowl chocolate cake for every occasion, while Kate's Never Fail Pastry stood by it's promise every time.
Sometime, I'm going to have to get my act together, scan the entire cookbook and preserve it forever. It's literally in pieces, but that doesn't affect the recipes, nay, they are as good as ever.
Like my mother's butter tarts, for example.
I can't accurately compare them to any other butter tarts, because honestly, I don't eat any other butter tarts but these. Years of disappointment left me wary, as all I encountered were overly sweet and gooey concoctions with no texture to speak of save a stray raisin, and I mean raisin, singular.
These ones are chock full of raisins, coconut, and walnuts, chewy, and yes, a little bit gooey. They are perfection. I don't make my mother's butter tarts nearly often enough because well, Oh My Heck! they are rich and I can't stop eating them even after two or seven. It may be my mother's cookbook, but since I've left home she isn't around anymore to limit my intake!
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup coconut, toasted
2 tablespoons cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
18 2-inch tart shells, or 36 mini, usually the equivalent of two double-crust pies*.
Preheat oven to 350F
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and brown sugar together until light. Beat in eggs, corn syrup, and vanilla and mix well. Mix in raisins, walnuts, coconut, salt and cream. Combine thoroughly.
Spoon into tart shells and bake until set. 12-15 minutes for mini tarts, 20-22 for large.
Makes 1 1/2 dozen 2 inch tarts.
*And a quick word about those crusts. Your pie dough is your business, whether you like it flaky or crispy, all-butter or all-lard, but please, don't roll it too thick for these tarts. It should complement the filling, not overwhelm it.
If you've ever had a butter tart at a popular coffee chain in Canada, you'll know what I'm talking about when I say TOO THICK. I won't name names, because people love it so much, but I will say that it rhymes with Jim Shmortons.