Sunday 10 March 2013

Tarte au Sucre Predecessor to Butter Tart

"Filles du Roi" courtesy 

Butter tarts are a truly Canadian recipe, first baked by the pioneers in the early 20th Century.  Where did they come from?  There are several recipes that could have contributed to the invention of the butter tart, which is made of butter, sugar, syrup and eggs inside a pastry shell.  Firstly, the Quebecois used to eat "tarte au sucre" which is a sugar pie composed of maple syrup and/or a brown sugar mixture.  This pie can possibly be traced back as far as the "filles du roi" who arrived in Canada in the 1600's.  Another possible influence was the American pecan pie, a mixture of corn syrup and molasses with pecans, first appearing in the South in 1897.  A third possibility is the backwards pie, a concoction made with corn syrup in the Maritimes.  The Pennsylvania Dutch created a recipe for the molasses-rich shoofly pie, which was named due to the flies its sweetness attracted.  Lastly, the English created the treacle tart in the 1880's, made of golden syrup, breadcrumbs and lemon juice; this is Harry Potter's favourite dessert.

Pennsylvania Dutch buggy courtesy 

Regardless of its origin, the butter tart recipe first appeared in print in 1900 in the Barrie Women's Auxiliary & Royal Victoria Hospital Cookbook.  It has been a fixture of Canadian society ever since.

(Mrs. Malcolm MacLeod)

2 cups boiling water
1 cup currants
1 cup brown sugar.
1 / 2 cup salted butter, softened
2 large eggs, slightly beaten

12 tart-sized pastry shells

PREPARATION: Place pastry shells on cookie sheet, or line 12 muffins cups with prepared pastry.
Place currents in medium-sized bowl and cover with boiling water. Allow to stand five to 10 minutes. Drain currants, discard water, and place currants back in the same bowl. Whisk in brown sugar and butter, and combine well. Blend in eggs.

Spoon filling into tart shells until three-quarters full (make sure currants in the liquidity mixture are evenly distributed in each shell).

Bake in bottom third of 400F oven for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until filling is puffed and bubbly and pastry is golden. Let stand on rack for 1 minute. Immediately run flat metal spatula around tarts to loosen (this will help prevent sticking). After five minutes, carefully slide spatula under tarts and transfer to rack to cool. Makes 12 tarts.

Photo courtesy

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