Butter Tarts

Honestly, who doesn’t love butter tarts?  Many people are intimidated by the thought of making them, but they don’t have to be just something that you either pick up in a store or bakery, or something that Grandma used to make.  This is a fairly simple recipe, and there really is nothing like homemade butter tarts.  Give these a try and enjoy with a cup of tea in the afternoon.  Delicious!

Ingredients:

Pastry:

1 1/2 cups flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup cold butter, cubed

1/4 cup shortening, cubed

1 egg yolk

1 tsp vinegar

Ice water

Filling:

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup corn syrup

1 egg

2 tbsp butter, softened

1 tsp each vanilla and vinegar

pinch salt

1/4 cup raisins, nuts, chocolate chips, whatever your preference.

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine flour with salt.  With pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in butter and shortening until in fine crumbs.  In 1 cup liquid measure, whisk egg yolk with vinegar, and add enough ice water to make 1/3 cup.  Gradually sprinkle over flour mixture, stirring briskly with a fork until pastry holds together.  Gather dough, press into disc.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour or until chilled.

For the filling: In a bowl, vigorously whisk together brown sugar, corn syrup, egg, butter, vanilla, vinegar and salt.  Set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry to 1/8 inch thickness.  using a 4 inch round cookie cutter, or clean empty 28 oz can, cut out 12 circles, re-rolling scraps if necessary.  Fit into 2 3/4 inch muffin cups.  Divide raisins or nuts among pastry cups.  Spoon in filling until 3/4 full.

Bake in bottom third of 450 degree oven for about 12 minutes or until filling is puffed and bubbly and pastry is golden.  Let stand on rack for one minute.  To prevent sticking, immediately run a metal spatula around tarts to loosen.  Carefully slide spatula under tarts and transfer to rack to let cool.

Makes 12 tarts.

If you have a pastry recipe that you prefer to use that is different than this one, go ahead and use it.  You can add whatever you like to the filling.  A handful of coconut might be good as well.  Or mini M&M’s for the kids.

Enjoy!

New York Cheesecake – Basic Recipe

I truly believe that everyone should have a basic cheesecake recipe in their recipe box.  The dense, rich cheesecake that gets baked in the oven, not that no bake stuff.  Not that the no bake doesn’t taste good, it’s just that I prefer the authentic recipe.

There are several recipes out there, as well as several methods.  Some methods include a water bath, this one does not.  So print this puppy off, and tuck it away for when you need to take dessert somewhere and you want people to be “mmmmmm-ing” all through the dessert course.

Notes:  This needs to sit in the fridge for at least four hours.  It’s best made the morning of, or even better the night before.  Also, when I say “Moist Oven,” I mean to put a cake pan or shallow dish full of water on the lower rack of the oven while preheating and baking the cheesecake.

Ingredients:

Crust:

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

3 tbsp sugar

3 tbsp butter, melted

 

Filling:

4 pkg. cream cheese, softened. (if it’s right out of the fridge, unwrap and place in a microwave safe bowl, nuke for 30-45 seconds on half power.  If needed, add more time)

1 cup sugar

3 tbsp flour

1 tbsp vanilla

4 eggs

1 cup sour cream

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325. (Moist oven) – Move top rack to middle position.

Mix crumbs, sugar and butter, press into the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan.  Bake 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, flour and vanilla at medium speed with an electric mixer until well blended.  Add eggs, one at a time, mixing at low speed after each addition, just until blended.  Blend in sour cream, pour over the crust.

Bake for an hour or so, but start checking after 50 minutes.  The edges should look done, but the center should still wobble slightly when shaken.  I like to shut off the oven about 5-10 minutes before it will be ready and crack the oven door slightly to allow to cool gently.  This helps prevent cracking.  If your cheesecake cracks, don’t feel bad.  Almost everyones cracks.  That’s what topping is for – to cover that up.

Run your knife around the outside of the cake, and once it has cooled to room temp, store it in the fridge for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

Allow your cheesecake to come back up to room temp before serving.  The flavours are more prominent this way. Take it out of the fridge a good 1/2 hour to 45 minutes before serving.

As far as topping, that’s totally up to you.  You can go the traditional route, with cherries or blueberries, just using regular old pie filling.  If you choose to go this route, wait until shortly before you serve to add it, so it doesn’t make the top mushy.  You can just cut it into slices and top with a chocolate or caramel sauce, or fruit coulis if that is your preference.  You can cut up fresh fruit on the top and serve with a healthy dollop of whipped cream.  That’s the beauty of a basic cheesecake recipe.  You can change it up to make it your own.

And once you’ve got this under your belt, you can try the literally thousands of variations to suit the occasion, or just to suit your taste.  Chocolate, pumpkin, swirled, different, fruit, different nuts….the possibilities are endless.

I’m excited to hear any ideas you may have to change this up and make it your own.  Please feel free to add them in the comments.


The Best Banana Bread You’ll Ever Eat

This recipe is my favourite for Banana Bread.  I usually make a couple of loaves at a time and they never last long.  It is so incredibly moist and delicious.

I take any bananas that are starting to get too ripe and throw them in the freezer for Banana Bread.  If you take them out ahead of time, you can just cut the end off and squeeze out the banana like a sausage out of its casing.  The riper the bananas, the sweeter, more moist bread you will have.

Ingredients:

2 cups All Purpose Flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

3 ripe bananas

1 cup Miracle Whip salad dressing

3/4 cup granulated sugar

Brown sugar – for topping.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease loaf pan.  In a large bowl, combine the first three ingredients.  No need to sift.  In a smaller bowl, combine bananas, Miracle Whip and granulated sugar.  Mix well.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients to them.  Mix until incorporated, but don’t overdo it.  It’s okay if there are a few spots of flour that hasn’t been mixed in yet.

Pour into the prepared loaf pan and sprinkle brown sugar on the top to cover.  Bake for 50 minutes to an hour.  The top will be lightly browned and a skewer should come out clean.

Remove from oven and run a knife around the edges of the pan.  Allow to cool slightly and remove from pan.  Will keep well wrapped in plastic wrap or stored in an airtight container.

Enjoy, it’s a good one.

Tea Loaf

I adore this recipe.  I believe it’s called Tea Loaf because of the tea in the recipe, but it is also wonderful to enjoy with a cup of tea.  I often like to have a loaf of some kind handy for breakfast, lunches, or a snack at any time.  This one is definitely one of my favourites.  I got the recipe from Anna Olsen, on Food Network Canada.  She has amazing desserts and all kinds of recipes.  This does not disappoint.  It’s a great choice for anyone with allergies to eggs, as there are none in this loaf.   It’s incredibly moist and delicious served alone or with a spread.

Ingredients:

2 cups + 2 tbsp hot brewed earl grey tea

1 cup rasins

2 1/2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp cloves

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/2 cup butter

6 tbsp icing sugar, sifted

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Pour 2 cups hot Earl Grey tea over raisins and set aside to soak.

In medium bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices.  Cut in butter until blended thoroughly.  Add tea with raisins and stir till smooth.  Pour into loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, until tester comes out clean.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then remove from loaf pan.  Stir together remaining tea with icing sugar and brush over loaf.

This loaf will keep for probably up to a week if kept wrapped tightly or in an airtight container.

Enjoy!