Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My Mother's Butter Tarts

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!

Butter Tarts

2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
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.


Shaina said...

I love stories of old recipes that are attached to memories. Mine all come from my grandma because, well, my mom loathes being in the kitchen. A scanned copy of the cookbook would make the perfect gift, especially if you let the cat out of the bag by revealing you have it.
The butter tarts look luscious. I can't wait to give them a try.

Deborah said...

There is nothing like mom's cooking! These look so delicious!

Jan (Mixing Bowl Kids) said...

I'm fascinated with vintage recipes and cookbooks and think everyone should have one. The photo you have is lovely and would make a great cover for a cookbook. You bring up a great point about the thick crust on a butter tart - not a good thing for who only wants to eat a mouthful of dough!

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

I am always on the search for the best buttertart recipe ever. These sound so delicious with the addition of coconut which is an absolute favourite. The pastry also plays an important factor and I remember a fruit stand north of Whitby that had it all covered.

KJB said...

Like your Mom, my Mother had a handwritten recipe book, dating from the 1940's, right up to 2006, when she died. I am also one of three siblings and could have insisted on keeping the book, but one of my nieces asked for it and it seemed proper that she become the custodian of her beloved Gran's recipe book.

Unfortunately, time and the elements are taking their toll. We must find a method to preserve this treasure. We have been reluctant to scan or photocopy, fearing additional damage to the book.

Some of the recipes are still widely made in the family (including butter tarts); others have become curiosities (you ate that?). Still, all are treasures.

Alicen said...

I carcked up when I read "Jim Schmorton's" So hilarious! I know what you mean by the crust being too thick, like I have to get through it just to get to the filling.

Lucy said...

That cookbook is such a lovely thing to have - I can't wait to steal away one of my Mum's old scrapbooks when I leave home. These butter tarts look delicious, definitely a recipe to save. Thank you for sharing such a family favourite :)

Cheri said...

How great that you have that memory to leaf through.. it will be a wonderful keepsake for your children as well.

I LOVE Butter Tarts! I have never had one with walnuts before. I am trying this recipe next time. Mom knows best. :)

Amber said...

You're a funny lady Aimee. Nice addition of coconut to the butter tarts, I'll have to try out your recipe.

Cheryl Arkison said...

I've never been a butter tart fan, but your crust looks amazing!

my spatula said...

i LOVE your mom's handwritten cookbook. so precious.

Laura H-W said...

Hey Sis...I'll be the first in line for the scanned copy of Mum's cooked book. Not that I grew up on it- but I'd love a copy!
Great post- I think I might have to make these this weekend.

Cookie baker Lynn said...

What a treasure! Handwritten recipes that you know and love - Wow!

The tarts look like they definitely need to come with an intake monitor.

L said...

That looks absolutely heavenly!

Lo said...

Just the idea of these butter tarts is making my brain a bit gooey. They look wonderful -- and foods with so many memories stored up in them are just bound to be better than just about anything else!

Peter M said...

This is part of Canadian cuisine and the recipe and recipes from family - are gold.

I do hope you've transferred them to some more permanent format.

Barbara said...

Great recipe from your mom! I did a family cookbook a couple years ago with photos and stories; everyone (even those not family) loved it. Privately published.

It's funny how cooks get started..usually it's from moms and grandmoms but some of us are luckier than others. My sister is the better cook, but she doesn't like computers much so here I am, blogging about food. (Well, she corrects me often enough when I make an error online!)

Emily said...

OH MAN. :D These look so rich and good! I can only imagine.

I LOVE, love the second picture.

Anonymous said...

I love to see the various measurements in the column and the note in brackets: to make 10X the recipe...obviously these were made for huge crowds, or maybe even the country fair!

LoveFeast Table said...

I've never had a butter tart..but they look lovely! Seriously, scan that!! It's too wonderful, not too! Lovely memory of your family and what they shared at the table.

Kitchen Butterfly said...

They look gorgeousssssss

Abby said...

Good advice about the dough! I HATE it when pie/tart dough is think and it masks the taste of the filling!

My cousins made off with most of my grandmother's cookbooks. I cried a bit, but I figured that's okay; at least they're still in the family!

buy nintendo dsi r4 said...

Ask your mom my sincere Thanks. I have tried few of the recipes from here and believe me I have done it perfectly.

Anonymous said...

This recipe is so close to my mum's that I can't think of using anything else. Now if I could only find tart tins in California. I swear they have never even heard of tarts here.

Jennifer said...

Hi Aimee,
Made your tarts last night and they are yummilicous. I used my home made whole wheat pastry and sweetened coconut with great results.

lalaflowers said...

I LOVE butter tarts! But,having moved to the USA many years ago.. no one else seems to know what they are, or why I drool when I see them... Thank you!!! for the recipe ~ from taste buds... jeans are cursing you right now.... ;-)

Lutfi Kurniawan said...

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