Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Eating the Americas: Butter Tart Bars

Eating the Americas | Homeschool Coffee Break

We live south of the Butter Tart Border. In general, this border coincides with the Canada-USA border, but there are some areas in northern states where butter tarts can be found. This is another one of those foods that is distinctly Canadian, and relatively unknown in the United States, but there doesn't seem to be an obvious reason for it. It has some similarities to other desserts, and may be compared to pecan pie (but without pecans), treacle tart (an English pastry made with golden syrup), or sugar pie (a French-Canadian pie traditionally made with maple syrup).
Butter Tart Bars | Homeschool Coffee Break

Like many other dishes, there are plenty of variations on butter tarts, depending on preferences and the favorite local bakery or family recipe. Generally speaking, butter tarts have a pie pastry crust with a filling made of butter, sugar, and eggs. The debate over whether a butter tart should include raisins or nuts is ongoing, as is the debate over how firm or runny the filling should be. Personally, I love raisins in butter tarts, but not nuts; and I like the filling to be gooey and runny, like a thick syrup. My kids are not raisin fans, so out of deference to them, I don't put as many raisins in my recipes as I would otherwise.

Now, back to the Butter Tart Border... because we live south of that imaginary line, I cannot just run to the local supermarket or bakery when I want a butter tart. And while I can bake them myself, preparing the pastry in tarts takes a bit of time. This simplified recipe for Butter Tart Bars comes in handy in this situation. In the interest of full disclosure, I have to tell you that I truly prefer the tarts. But the bar version does have the advantage of being very easy to make, with less time and labor involved than in making my own pastry tart cups. Because they are in bar form, the filling can't be as gooey and syrupy as in my preferred butter tart recipe. For an awesome example of what they should look like, and one of the best ever recipes, visit The Back of the Cupboard. And check back here, because I am blocking out some time to make my own tarts soon.

In the meantime, I am happy to share the recipe for Butter Tart Bars.
Butter Tart Bars | Homeschool Coffee Break

Butter Tart Bars
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1-1/4 cups flour

2 eggs
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup raisins

Bottom Layer: Crumble the first three ingredients together, then press into an ungreased 9x9 pan. Bake at 350*F for 10 minutes.

Top Layer: Beat eggs and second amount of sugar well. Add the rest of the ingredients. (If you love raisins, add more - up to 1-1/2 cups total. If you like nuts, you can add 1/2 cup chopped walnuts as well.) Stir well and spread over bottom layer. Bake at 350*F for about 25 minutes or until center is almost firm. Cut into squares when cool.
Butter Tart Bars | Homeschool Coffee Break

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