Buttertarts…A Christmas Necessity
The title of this post is no laughing matter. Your family may be able to live without butter tarts during the holidays but I think I would be strung up by my ankles and dragged behind a skidoo if I forgot to add them to my list of Christmas baking. And really to be honest I don’t mind making them every year and look forward to a touch of nostalgia on our Christmas goodie platters.
There was a time when I was a young aspiring baker; say around 1982. I would hang around Grandma’s kitchen and beg to make butter tarts year round. I must have been a real pain in the butt or just really super cute because sometimes (just sometimes!) I would get my way. It is a Grandmas job to spoil the grandchildren so she would begin the pastry while I counted out raisins. Yes, my job was counting raisins and I took it very seriously. Ten raisins for each tart. That’s not a lot when you think about it so maybe Grandma was being a little stingy.
Excepting the fiddly job of making pastry, butter tarts are super easy to make and Grandma taught me well. I’ve passed on the job of counting the raisins out to my children; or I did until they decided to hate on raisins and insist on pecans instead. I still make a few raisin butter tarts and have a little laugh to myself when the kids can’t tell the difference between the two varieties after they are baked. Such little joys bring pleasure to the holidays.
So every year before I begin baking I make a ‘to bake’ list. It is separate from my ‘presents to buy’ list, my ‘to pack’ list, and my ‘to clean’ list. That’s a lot of lists. The point is I ask everyone what they want on that ‘to bake’ list and they insist on two items: 1) Butter tarts and 2) Mini Cheesecakes. Even when we lived in Australia I was able to give them a beloved Christmas memory when I made our special treats so far away from home.
Butter Tarts (My grandma’s recipe which she took from her 1952 Blue Ribbon Cook Book)
- pie dough (see here)
- 1 cup chopped pecans (or raisins)
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup melted butter
- 1 tsp vanilla
Divide the dough into one inch balls and drop into mini muffin tin. Use a french rolling pin, muddler, or suitable wooden implement and press downward onto the ball to form a cup. Drop a small amount of pecan pieces or about 5 raisins into each cup. Mix remaining ingredients and spoon into cups. Bake at 375 F until the pastry is golden.