Gay Cook’s Mini Butter Tarts

Makes  3 dozen mini tarts

These delicious butter tarts have been part of our family through out Christmas and the cold winter months for many years. We used to make the tarts in the large muffin size but when the mini muffin pans arrived in the stores we knew they were the perfect size for butter tarts. Our conscience told us that two mini muffins were better for us then one large one. There has always been a debate in Canada whether currants or raisins are traditional in butter tarts, but in our family we all like the currants over raisins so there has never been a debate for us.

1 flaky pastry recipe
1 cup (250 mL) currants, not packed
Boiling water
1/3 cup (75 mL) softened butter
3/4 cup (175 mL) lightly packed brown sugar,
1 egg
2 tablespoons (25 mL) milk or cream
Pinch salt
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla

  1. Roll pastry until very thin to about 1/8-inch (1 cm) thickness. Use 2¾-inch (7 cm) cookie cutter to cut each pastry shell and fit into mini muffin cups.
  2. Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C).
  3. Place currants in bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for 5 minutes; drain currants in a sieve.
  4. In mixing bowl, whisk together butter, sugar and egg until creamy. Stir in milk, salt and vanilla. Stir in the drained currants.
  5. Fill each pastry shell with currant mixture. Bake about 10 – 12 minutes or when pastry is golden colour and mixture is sets on top. Cook several minutes then remove tarts from pan.

Flaky Pastry;

1 cup (250 mL) unbleached hard bread flour
1/4 cup (50 mL) flour for rolling
1/4 teaspoon (1 mL) salt
5 tablespoons (75 mL) cold butter
3 tablespoons (40 mL) shortening or lard
4 tablespoons (60 mL) ice water

By hand: In mixing bowl combine flour and salt; use the largest holes in grater to grate in the fat. Toss flour lightly through the fat as you grate, to prevent clumps. Break up any fat clumps with your fingertips, or a table knife to make coarse crumbs. Sprinkle in ice water, while tossing mixture with a fork until a large mass forms. Gently knead with your fingers (the palms hold too much heat and will warm the dough) just until dough forms a ball. Gently flatten into two disks. Chill 20 minutes to rest the gluten in the pastry.

Food processor: Combine flour and salt in a bowl. Cut the fat into cubes and add to the machine. Pulse about 3 – 4 times on and off just until the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle in the ice water and briefly pulse until the mixture begins to form a ball. Remove the dough and gently knead into two disks. Place in plastic bag to chill 20 – 30 minutes.

Sprinkle remaining flour on the work surface and the rolling pin. Sprinkle disk half with reserved flour. Gently roll out to a 5-inch (10.5-cm) diameter. Pick dough up and sprinkle more flour on and under it and on the rolling pin. Roll into a slightly thinner and larger circle. Pick up the circle, sprinkle more flour under and over it and keep shaping the circle so edges are unbroken. Clean off rolling pin with flour and repeat this process at least three more times until you have a circle that is just less than 1/8-inch (1/2-cm) thick. Use 3-inch (7.5 cm) cookie cutter to cut out 12 circles. Drape each circle over the back of mini muffin pan cup, gently pressing lower edges into the sides of muffin cups. Chill or freeze for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425ºF (220ºC). Bake about 14 minutes or until fat no long bubbles and pastry is golden. Gently remove shells from pan.

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