Wednesday, October 12, 2011

recipe: classic Canadian buttertarts with Caramel Sauce

What do you think makes a good buttertart?  Is it the flaky, buttery pastry?  Or, are you, like me, all about the gooey, syrupy filling?  Do you love raisins in your buttertart or not so much?  What about nuts?  Do you prefer old-school corn syrup or pure maple syrup?

Such was the question that Kirstie and Jody of “The Culinary Studio” posed to a bunch of us chefs and foodies when they challenged us to compete in their first “Buttertart Competition” held back in their studio in August.

It was a sweet day (pun intended) and a lot of fun.  Our blackberry balsamic buttertart took home third prize.  Congratulations to Martin’s Family Fruit Farm who won first prize, and to Relish Cooking Studio who placed second.

If you haven’t heard of Relish yet, you should definitely make a point of stopping by their cooking school on
Regina St.
in Uptown Waterloo.  Their space is homey and inviting, and owners Donna-Marie and Maria are fervent foodies, passionate about teaching.  These caramel-laced butter tarts are to die for, and certainly worth every decadent calorie!

Relish Cooking Studio’s Classic Canadian Buttertarts with Caramel Sauce(makes 12 buttertarts)

ingredients crust

·        3/4 (three-quarters) cup all purpose flour
·        1/4 (one-quarter) cup bleached cake flour (we prefer Swans Down)
·        3 (three) oz. (or 3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter
·        2 (two) tbsps. chilled vegetable shortening
·        1/4 (one -quarter) cup ice water (plus a few droplets if necessary)

ingredients filling

·        3/4 (three-quarters) cup dark brown sugar
·        3/4 (three-quarters) cup corn syrup
·        1/2 (one-half) cup unsalted butter, melted
·        2 (two) large eggs at room temperature
·        1 (one) tsp white vinegar
·        1 (one) tsp. vanilla extract
·        1/2 (one-half) cup golden raisins

ingredients caramel sauce

·        1 (one) cup granulated sugar
·        1 (one) tbsp. corn syrup
·        1 (one) tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
·        1/4 (one-quarter) cup water
·        3/4 (three-quarters) cup whipping cream
·        1 (one) tbsp. unsalted butter
·        2 (two) tsps. vanilla extract


1.      To make crust:  Put the flour, salt and diced butter in the container of the processor and pulse (on-off half second clicks) 5 or 6 times to break up the butter roughly.  Add the shortening, turn on the machine and immediately pour in the ice water, then pulse 2 or 3 times.  Remove the cover and feel the dough (it should look like a bunch of small lumps, and will just hold together in a mass when you press a handful together).  It’s important not to over mix; it should not mass on the blade of the machine. If it is too dry, pulse in droplets more water.  From now on work rapidly to keep the dough cold and manageable.

2.      Turn the dough out onto your work surface; press it into a rough mass.  For the final blending, rapidly and roughly with the heel (not the palm) of your hand, push egg-size clumps of dough out in front of you in a 6-inch smear.

3.      Form the dough into a disc (it should be fairly smooth and pliable).  Wrap in plastic, slide it into a plastic bag, and refrigerate.  Freshly made dough should chill 2 hours at least, allowing the flour particles to absorb the liquid, as well as to firm the butter and relax the gluten.

4.      To make filling:  Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin pan. In a bowl, whisk sugar, corn syrup and butter in a bowl by hand until combined.  Whisk in eggs, then vinegar and vanilla.

5.      Sprinkle a few raisins in the bottom of each muffin cup and pour filling over the raisins.

6.      Bake the tarts for 5 minutes, then reduce oven to 375 °F and continue baking until butter tart filling starts to dome, about 20 more minutes.  Cool tarts in the tin, and chill the tarts in the tin before removing. Drizzle with caramel sauce before serving.

7.      To make Caramel Sauce:  Bring sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice and water to a boil over high heat in a covered heavy-bottomed saucepot.  Do not stir!  Remove lid once boiling and let sugar cook, brushing sides of the pot right against sugar with cool water once or twice, until an amber colour.  Remove from heat and slowly whisk in cream (watch out for steam). Stir in butter and vanilla. Let cool for 20 minutes before serving.

8.      Caramel sauce can be prepared ahead and chilled until ready to serve.  Simply heat in microwave to warm. Carmel sauce will keep up to a week refrigerated.  Yield: approximately 1½ (one-and-a-half) cups.

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