Wednesday, November 21, 2007

HomeGrown Gourmet 3: Pies and Tarts

As all the foodies and their families in the US chow down on their Thanksgiving feasts, my thoughts are turning to a more, shall we say, Canadian, treat. With the Fall weather comes the longing for rich, sweet treats filled with butter, toffee, caramel and the like. How lucky for me that I happened across the HomeGrown Gourmet event, now in it's third go-around, over at Columbus Foodie. I love excuses to bake yummies!!
According to Becke's breakdown:
Participants will make a dish that follows the theme and that somehow represents their home region- town, state, area. Representation can feature a local ingredient, be a traditional dish from your area, or be a creative twist.

What was excellent about this particular roundup is that the theme was pies and tarts... hmm, but of course I can get covered in flour and sugar for this! What's more Canadian than a buttertart?

Now, Wikipedia says that butter tarts were a staple of pioneer Canadian cooking, and they remain a characteristic pastry of Canada, considered one of only a few recipes of genuinely Canadian origin. One of the earliest known Canadian recipes is from northern Ontario and dates back to 1915. Some believe the butter tart is related to the pecan pie brought to Canada by American slaves, but it's also similar to Quebec's sugar pie and the backwards pie from the East Coast. The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. ran a radio program on what made a great buttertart, from it's creation to it's eating!

These little gooey pies of bliss are some of my mom's favourites, and though it isn't considered a proper addition in purist circles, both of us love bits of chewy raisins in them. I make the flavour just a little wee bit more Autumnal by soaking the raisins in hot apple cider first. The emergence of these from the oven was always a great event in my Grandma's kitchen too, since they were usually made after a pie-baking spree with the leftover scraps of dough.

Canadian Decadence Tarts
Makes 12 tarts
½ cup raisins
1 cup hot apple cider
¼ cup butter (no substitutes)
½ cup brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
¼ tsp lemon juice
¼ tsp salt
½ cup golden corn syrup
12 tart shells, unbaked
  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Pour hot apple cider over raisins. Let stand 10 minutes and drain.
  3. Cream butter and sugar.
  4. Add egg, vanilla, lemon juice and salt. Blend well.
  5. Stir in corn syrup, nuts if using and drained raisins.
  6. Spoon into tart shells.
  7. Bake 20 minutes. Let cool completely.