Butter Tarts in Progress! I preheated the oven to 400. Separated the frozen tart shells (but left them in their little foil containers) and jam-packed as many as humanly possible on to a cookie sheet. Yes, I buy the frozen ones because it cuts the tart making stress in half. I learned my lesson the hard way, because no matter what, tart shells and filling never EVER come out even. Before I perfected my method, if there was too much pastry I would mix up more filling, and if the pastry ran out I would have to make more of that to use up the filling, and this would go on and on until I got fed up and poured myself several drinks and said to hell with it. So yeah. Frozen pastry is the way to go.
I put raisins and chopped pecans in the shells first. There’s nothing more annoying than picking a tart that has only three raisins in it. Or maybe I’m the only one who would get annoyed by that. Anyway, on to the filling.
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup corn syrup
2 T melted butter
2 tsp vanilla
1 T vinegar
a pinch of salt
I’m sure there’s some fancy order in which you’re supposed to do this, but I throw everything into a gigantic measuring cup with a pouring spout and combine it with a hand mixer. (I save my arms and wrist muscles for the fudge mixing which comes later.)
The reason there’s a pouring thing on my ‘mixing bowl’ is because I have also learned from trial and error that using a spoon is messy and inaccurate. And often involves a lot of finger licking. And if you fill these things too full (try for 3/4) they bubble over and stuff burns on to the cookie sheet and you have to toss it and buy a new one. Just kidding. But it is a pain to scrub the stupid thing clean. They are supposed to take between 12 and 15 minutes to bake, so I set the timer for lucky 13.
See that original pan on the far left? Notice how many more butter tarts I had to make to use up all the filling? See what I mean?? A good thing about taking pictures of this process is that I clean as I go. Sort of. You of course cannot see what is behind me on the kitchen table and in the kitchen sink at this point.
The fudge recipe I make is super simple and easy. There actually should be no other kind of recipe allowed anywhere. Especially at Christmas. I should be giving you quantities in metric, but I learned to cook with cups and spoons, so this is just easier. I am all about easy.
1 & 2/3 cups white sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
2 T butter
1/2 tsp salt
Bring these ingredients to a rolling boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil for five minutes. Do not try to make yourself a cup of coffee during this process, or attempt to take a picture during the rapid-boiling constantly stirring part. No one I know is that coordinated.
This is what it looks like after five minutes. I doubled the recipe, by the way. I hate doing things twice.
While everything is still all bubbly and hot, stir in
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 & 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
(or chopped pecans which never made it into the butter tarts)
Stir until the marshmallows and chocolate chips are melted, or until your arms or your spoon breaks, whichever comes first. Spread in a parchment paper lined pan. Choose a really beat up old piece of crap you’ve had in your cupboard for a hundred years because it is so photogenic. Let cool. Four hours or longer is good. Cut into squares (some of which will crumble because you were impatient and did not wait for four hours) and store in an air tight container in the fridge.
Pray that the fudge and the tarts won’t all be gone before you leave to visit your grandchildren.
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