I was emceeing the Gallery Calorie event for the Artemis Charitable Foundation this afternoon/evening – a fantastic and fun event that included restaurant and gallery hopping followed by live music, mini pies from Simple Simon, bacon wrapped scallops from Ceili’s, mini cupcakes from Buttercream Bakeshoppe, martinis and a silent auction (a bad combination for me – although I’m sure that’s the idea).
Mike picked me up from the fundraiser and we headed straight over to C & J’s to celebrate C’s 40th birthday. Since we weren’t supposed to bring gifts, I made a batch of butter tarts – one of his favorites – which Mike forgot to bring when he came to pick me up. Or rather, I forgot to tell him to grab off the countertop. So when we got home at the end of the night they were still there. Perhaps I’ll drop off the slightly smaller batch tomorrow.
Pastry for a single crust pie
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla
a handful of raisins, currants, and/or chopped pecans (optional)
Preheat oven to 400°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry out 1/4″ thick. Cut out circles using a 4″ cookie cutter or empty can, and press into ungreased muffin cups.
In a medium bowl, stir together the brown sugar, corn syrup, eggs and vanilla. Stir in the raisins and pecans, if you’re using them. Fill the tart shells about 2/3 full and bake for 20 minutes, until bubbly and golden. Take them out of the pan using a thin knife to coax them out while they are still warm, otherwise any goo that has bubbled over will stick to the pan as it cools. If it does, pop them back in the oven for a minute to soften it again. Cool on a wire rack.
Makes about 18 butter tarts.
Grandma Woodall’s “Never-fail” Pastry
This will give you enough pastry to line a 9” pie plate; double it to make enough for two pies or a double crust. Some pie bakers swear by a teaspoon of vinegar added to their water to discourage the formation of gluten and make a tender crust, but it’s not necessary. Using all shortening instead of a combination of shortening and butter is OK too.
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup butter, chilled and cut into pieces
1/4 cup shortening, chilled and cut into pieces
2-4 Tbsp. ice-cold water
1 tsp. vinegar (optional, stir it into the water)
In a large bowl or the bowl of a food processor, stir together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter and shortening and use a fork, pastry blender, wire whisk or the “pulse” motion of the food processor to blend the mixture until it resembles coarse meal, with lumps of fat no bigger than a pea.
Drizzle the minimum amount of water over the mixture and stir until the dough comes together, adding a little more a bit at a time if you need it. Gather the dough into a ball, flatten it into a disc, wrap it in plastic and chill it for at least half an hour. If you are making a double crust pie, divide the dough in half, making one half slightly larger than the other. (Your pastry can be prepared up to this point and frozen for up to 4 months; let it thaw on the countertop when you need it.