Sunday, December 7, 2014

sweet treats ¦ homemade for the holidays

sweet really cannot do holidays without them. recipes are traditions passed down through the hands of generations. words we guard closely to our hearts against the inquiries from others we choose to share our baked goodness with. these recipes, like the ornaments on our tree, come with stories. memories. moments that all lend to this magic that is created each holiday season.
every christmas as a little girl, without a doubt, there was always shortbread, butter tarts, and hungarian pastry. my mom would spend hours...days, baking massive batches of treats. christmas is just not christmas without the homemade treats.

since the holidays are about sharing, there really is no better gift to give then that of beautifully made food by loving hands, i would like to share some of my favourite treats.
butter tarts
for the pastry, you can go ahead and purchase tart shells already made or give a go to making your own pastry.
my mom always used the tenderflake recipe from the box of tenderflake, recently i started using the joy of cooking for butter tarts, which is where i am pretty sure my mom got her recipe from to begin with. i remember her joy of cooking cookbook...loved and well worn from many years of use. pages falling out, stains from adventures in baking...i digress :)

Pie Crust Pastry:
1 1/4 cups (175 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon (15 grams) granulated white sugar
1/2 cup (113 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces
1/8 to 1/4 cup (30 - 60 ml) ice water

Butter Tart Filling:
1/3 cup (70 grams) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (210 grams) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup (60 ml) light cream (half-and-half) (10% butterfat)
1/2 cup (120 ml) raisins

Pie Crust Pastry:  In a food processor, place the flour, salt, and sugar and process until combined. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal (about 15 seconds). Pour 1/8 cup (30 ml) water in a slow, steady stream, through the feed tube until the dough just holds together when pinched. If necessary, add more water.

Turn the dough onto your work surface and gather into a ball. Flatten into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about one hour before using. This will chill the butter and relax the gluten in the flour. 

After the dough has chilled sufficiently, place on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough and cut into 12 - 4 inch (10 cm) rounds. (To prevent the pastry from sticking to the counter and to ensure uniform thickness, keep lifting up and turning the pastry a quarter turn as you roll (always roll from the center of the pastry outwards).) Gently place the rounds into a 12-cup muffin tin. Cover and place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to firm the dough. 

Butter Tart Filling: In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until creamy and smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then the vanilla extract. Stir in the cream. If using nuts and/or raisins, place a spoonful in the bottom of each tart shell and then fill the unbaked tart shells with the filling. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for about 15 - 20 minutes or until the pastry has nicely browned and the filling is puffed and set. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

shortbread is another lovely favourite...crisp, melt in your mouth deliciousness.
here's a favourite whipped shortbread recipe my mom handed down to me, have no idea where she got it from, but it seems to be a pretty standard recipe when searching online :)
Whipped Shortbread
1 cup softened butter
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornstarch

preheat oven to 300F
in a bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy, beat in icing sugar 2 tbsp's at a time until light and fluffy. in a separate bowl sift together flour and cornstarch. add flour mixture to butter mixture a third at a time, mixing between additions until smooth. drop by teaspoonfuls, 1 inch apart onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and press with a fork. bake for 20-25 minutes. do not let tops brown, shortbread cookies should be a gorgeous creamy pale colour :). for additional yumminess, once cooled, dip half of each shortbread cookie into some melted chocolate and let harden. you can even sprinkle the chocolate half with nuts, coconut, sprinkles, etc before it hardens.

my kids love to package up little bundles of homemade treats and deliver to our various neighbors and we always love seeing the smiles on their faces. so this christmas, give the gift of food and put a smile on your neighbors face :)

1 comment:

  1. I love shortbread cookies! I see from your picture that you made chocolate macaroons! I used to make those with my mom when I was young. you've inspired me, I think I'll make some this year :-)