Saturday, December 10, 2011

My husband loves a Tart!

Well our dirty little secret is out. My husband loves a tart. Butter tart that is. Today signals the first day in several that I will devote to carrying on the baking traditions that my mother taught me. Starting with butter tarts, I will also do her shortbread cookies, her carmels, and retrieve from the freezer the light fruit cake that she taught me. It will get a luxurious bath in some amaretto before being served. My personal favourite, it pairs with a cup of tea better than just about anything out there.

But it is butter tarts that really figure prominently in my memories of important women in my life. My grandmother and mother passed down their butter tart recipe to me and now to my daughter (and hopefully my son!). Even my Auntie Doreen, who wasn't really noted for her baking, made my mom's tarts for her Christmas celebrations.

Our very, very good family friend, Joyce Roggema, had a secret butter tart recipe that was coveted by all who tasted it. Her passing this November left a void in our lives that is only made a little less bittersweet by the tasting of the tarts that were her special gift.Shortly after my mom died, Joyce sat me down and said "You have a mom sized hole in your heart right now, and I have a daughter sized one....maybe we could help each other out." It brought so strongly home to me that it is the people in our lives that make it worthwhile. I miss her and her daughter Janet hugely...and now that they are both gone, butter tarts are what we celebrate their memory with. (Although I can never eat Mac n Cheese without thinking about dear Jannie).

It is that tradition, the raisins floating in their pool of butter, sugar and syrup, that connects us still. So today I made the first batch of our tarts. Gerry could hardly wait til they were cool to test and both Darcy and Jess have been eating them as well. I am off to the store to get more pastry and corn syrup. I think there is at least one more batch of tarts in our future. Will have to be if I am to keep some ready for James when he comes home from school.

And just because I don't want to keep the secret all to is the recipe:

1c raisins (soaked 5 minutes in boiling water then drained)
1/2 c butter
1 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup corn syrup
2 eggs (whisked in a bowl)
2 tsp vanilla

Mix butter, sugar, syrup, eggs, salt and vanilla in a pot. Heat enough to melt the butter and to incorporate all the ingredients. Distribute the drained raisins into 24 tart shells then pour syrup mix over top. Bake in the oven at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Often I cook them for 5 extra minutes just cause they seem to need it.