Posts filed under ‘Pastry’

Butter Tarts in Canada

Butter Tarts Issues – Greeting cards and other things…

OK… So, we were visiting the Vancouver Art Gallery downtown. They were showing Cezanne on the first floor and it was great. Even though we aren’t very big fans of modern art, there were some interesting pieces/displays on the 2nd floor of modern Chinese art.


sketch of card

Anyway, we were in the gift shop and I was looking for possibly a post card of the MadeIn Company’s exercise stuff [about the middle of the page is a video with the exercise stuff; it’s really entertaining if you have ever seen a yoga exercise video] and they had some very tongue-in-cheek greeting cards making fun of various aspects of Canadian culture. One card was on butter tarts and basically said: Raisins or walnuts? Runny or firm? I thought this was so funny because there are some very similar heated debates in the US in such matters (e.g., light or dark syrup for a pecan pie, marshmallows or savory sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving, but I digress.)

We had been in Vancouver for days but, unlike other trips where we’d visit several bakeries, we actually focused on chocolate (both solid and liquid) and Asian/Native People’s food. So, when I saw the card, I wanted to understand the butter tart debate.


sketch of butter tart

First, there are many sites that discuss the debates surrounding butter tarts. One organization ran a contest and the results outline the issues (see Canada site Better Butter Tarts). Here are two: The Brandon Sun website or ctv website . Runny versus firm refers to the texture of the finished product. They are runny when you take them out of the oven and the top is firm to touch but jiggles a little and, when you bite into them, the center is runny. The debate about raisins or walnuts is actually a little more complicated. Either the tart has no add-ins (plain) or it can have raisins or nuts (and some say both?!). One site said that the corn syrup in Canada is different from what is found here in the US and not golden syrup (as in England). Some people add maple syrup or replace the corn syrup with maple syrup – although others say that it must have corn syrup. It’s fascinating.

So, after studying many of these recipes, I came up with my combination version. My daughter said that it’s a little bit Canadian because I’m a little Canadian (since my mother was born there).ayl butter tart 2015

The Butter Tart (Adrienne’s version)

*The debate – firm versus runny. We’re going to try for more firm just because we like more firm but it seems like there’s a split and also that some people like the top firm with runniness underneath.

*The debate – nothing, raisins and/or nuts. We’re going to use nuts because we like them. We love pecans but it definitely seems like a “no-no”. If I like this recipe, I may end up adding them.

**Note: Some people say that the Canadian corn syrup is different from American. It’s more golden colored but it’s not golden syrup. So, I decided to do part maple syrup.

**Note 2: The original recipe probably did not have cream or milk. I am not including cream or milk in my version right now. I may add it later and will add the optional amount below.

*I’m using my own pate brise (regular pie crust dough). Some people have used a puff pastry like dough. Most people use their own favorite recipe (including one with cream cheese but I have a hard time believing cream cheese was in the original.)


1/3 C (2 .67 ou/75 g) butter
¼ C brown sugar
¼ C corn syrup
¼ C maple syrup (using grade B)
2 eggs
(2 T milk or cream optional)
1 tsp vanilla
pinch salt
½ C walnuts (toasted and roughly chopped)
your favorite pie dough recipe


  1. Preheat oven to 450°. Spray tart tin (or tins). Use a cookie sheet to avoid spilling.
  2. Roll pie dough until thin. Use a cookie cutter that is just slightly larger than the whole of your pie tart pan holes. Put dough into tart pans and lightly dock. Put into fridge for about 10 min.
  3. If you’re going to par-bake, cut pieces of parchment to line tart tins. Use a few pie weights in each whole. Par-bake. (You don’t have to do this part but I like my tart dough very baked.) Bake 10 min. Remove from oven. Remove pie weights and liners.
  4. Pour filling about 2/3 full or just below rim.   Reduce heat to 350°. Put back into the oven for 8-15 min. (Less if you want runny ones.) Cool.

**The family loved these butter tarts. I am likely to make them again – maybe mixing it up. For example, I could see using all maple syrup and no corn syrup, using pecans, or trying raisins and nuts. Quite fun when you’re not being too serious.


April 28, 2015 at 6:09 pm Leave a comment

Daring Baker’s Challenge – Baklava

Erica of Erica’s Edibles was our host for the Daring Baker’s June challenge. Erica challenged us to be truly DARING by making homemade phyllo dough and then to use that homemade dough to make Baklava.

*I like making baklava every Thanksgiving/Xmas season, leaving a pan on the counter for all guests to indulge. The high sugar syrup insures that it will be OK for the short amount of time that it usually rests there.

*This month’s challenge was focused on the homemade phyllo dough.

*Here’s the ball of dough after I made it. It was very nice and smooth, if somewhat moist.  I made only the regular recipe, rather than doubling.



*After letting it rest and putting together the filling and syrup, I rolled out the dough. (I used maple syrup in the syrup and filling.) I used a pasta machine to start and hand rolled the rest of the way. The dough was so delicate that it was difficult to move from the counter into the pan without it wrinkling.


*Note that after baking, you need to pour the syrup over the top and let the whole thing sit overnight.  So, you can’t plan to have it on the same day you make it.

*Summary:  The flavor was good. If I made this again, I’d definitely make a double batch of dough.  I’d also try to figure out some interesting ways to roll the dough more efficiently so that I could get a thinner product.  I’m not sure that I’ll make this recipe again but it was fun to try it.

June 27, 2011 at 7:36 am 2 comments

Daring Baker’s Challenge – Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake

Daring Baker’s Challenge – March 2011


The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.


This challenge was interesting because it came on the heels of making many versions of King’s Cake (click here to see the ones I made this year).  A King’s Cake is a yeasted bread ring with filling and icing.  Both the King’s Cake and the Meringue Coffee Cake are yeasted bread doughs and require the same kind of treatment as any other bread dough.




*~Also, a colleague of my sister needed a lemon meringue pie.  For this pie, I made the filling a bit more tart than the recipes I found and the crust was made with a combo of butter and Crisco (non-butter flavored).  Essentially, I had made all the parts for this challenge over the few weeks before.

~In making various versions of King’s Cake, I found that using coconut oil made no difference.  In this version of dough, expeller pressed, safflower oil was substituted to give a healthier dough.  Also, a vanilla bean was steeped in the milk.  (This is a picture of the dough.)

~I wanted to make both fillings, so to keep it all straight, I left them in long lines.  I made the meringue as specified and followed the directions.  There was too much meringue and so it was both difficult to roll and difficult to pinch the edges together.  Searching through my cabinet, I found 2 pans that were about the right size and placed the cut rings into the pans (sprayed with Pam and a parchment circle on the bottom). 





~What happened? I thought they rose beautifully and looked just like coffee cakes (as opposed to a different version of a King’s Cake or bread ring).  Because I grew up with more of a quick bread version of coffee cake (like a NY crumb coffee cake), this shape resembled more of a cake.  It’s also very dramatic.  The flavors were good – both fillings were fun.

What would I do differently? I would make less meringue and more filling. Also, the saturated fat (both butter and coconut oil) produced a more moist cake, as well as a richer mouth feel.  Maybe half/half next time?

Bottom line: Fun challenge…. I loved trying different fillings and will try this cake again using different mixtures.

March 27, 2011 at 7:20 am Leave a comment

Daring Baker’s Challenge Multi-layer Panna Cotta & Florentines

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.


I love puddings.  Panna cotta is wonderful version.  It’s usually made with gelatin rather than cornstarch and this gives it often a lighter feel.

~ For this challenge, I had never made a multi-layered panna cotta and was very excited for an excuse to do so.  Here’s a picture of the 2 and 3 layer versions made with the 2 types of gelatin and 1 type of gelée that I made.

~You can find the recipe on the Daring Kitchen site.  First I made the chocolate panna cotta.  I used 60% Ghiradelli (because I always have this in my house).  I checked it after 1 hour but it took a little more than 2 hours to set.

~While the panna cotta glasses set, I made the Nestle Florentine cookies.  For one set, I flattened as per instructions but parts remained less cooked than others.  Then I made the inside less dense than the outer edge.  This worked fairly well for one batch.  The final batch with only slightly more on the edge was the best.

After 2 hours, I made the almond panna cotta.  The recipe supplied is a vanilla panna cotta.  I replaced the milk with almond milk (unsweetened).  What’s amazing is that the recipe has a vanilla essence without adding any vanilla extract.  To boost the almond flavor a bit, I added ¼ tsp of almond extract.  I let the mixture cool (almost 25 minutes stirring every so often.)  Then I carefully poured the mixture on top of some of the glasses with 2 glasses reserved for just a little of this almond mixture.

~Because the layer was not as thick and the glass/chocolate panna cotta was so cold, it didn’t take as long to set.  I waited about 1-1 ½ hours.  I then made a raspberry gelée.  First I took some frozen raspberries (10 oz although a larger amount would have been better).  I put it through a sieve in order to remove as many of the seeds as possible.  After getting about 8 oz, I made the recipe.  (I did just barely heat the raspberry/sugar until it was melted and heated for 2-3 minutes rather than 5.  I also melted the gelatin and water mixture separately and added to the fruit.  This allowed it take a lot less time to cool.)  After cooling I carefully poured a thin layer on top of the all the glasses.  (I had a lot of extra chocolate mixture and didn’t quite have enough raspberry gelée to give a thicker layer.)

~While waiting for the gelée to set, I drizzled chocolate on top of the cookies.

~I was so excited that I used different types of glasses.  Here’s my picture that is similar to the one in the challenge.

We enjoyed the flavor of all of these panna cotta.  If I made the chocolate one again, I would put the chocolate/cream mixture through a sieve before adding to the gelatin/milk mixture.  I’m not sure I’d make the Florentines again.  I might make some other type of cookie that matched what I was doing in the panna cotta.  The look of the multi-layer was fantastic but took a long time –  Clearly the almond/raspberry was good enough.  The whole challenge was definitely worth the effort.

Here’s a picture with the cookie balanced on the edge – it almost looks like it’s floating above…

February 27, 2011 at 7:50 am 1 comment

Chinese New Year 2011

Ever since I finished college, I’ve been very interested in learning and keeping my mother’s traditions.  For several years when I lived in New Mexico, I also read books and the internet and gathered the information – including my mother’s own handwritten notes.  There are differences between what my mother does and what is considered “traditional”; however, after so many generations of the family living here, it’s not surprising.

~This year is different from previous years.  My mother is now living here in town.  So, aside from getting everything ready in my own home, I have also had to get everything ready for her.  This is a great honor for me; but, as you can imagine, it has meant a great deal of extra work – on top of my actual paid work and the general care of my family.  (The 15 days after Feb 3rd are filled with Superbowl Sunday, 2 birthdays and Valentine’s Day.)

~Feb 3rd was the first day of Chinese New Year.  I made Dan go, red bean soup, and fat go (or faat go, fatt go, fatt gou or fatt gao – all spellings on the web for prosperity cake).  The dan go is my mother’s recipe for steamed egg cake. (I prefer my mother’s cake. I have made this with a rice flour mix substitute to mimic neen go’s rice cake idea (also spelled neen gow).)  The red bean soup is a cobbled together from The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen. Finally, the fat go used half the pancake recipe from The Breakfast book plus the rest from the prosperity cake recipe of Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan’s website. (Notice that the cakes blossom up – into what look like flower petals.  I added more baking powder, even though we’re at altitude, to insure the flower – otherwise it wouldn’t be the same.)

origami fortune cookies

~I visited mom after breakfast and brought her a piece of dango and some of the sesame and peanut candies from my red box (as shown above).  This was my mom’s box.  She gave it to me after the first Chinese New Year in my own place after college.  I fill it with the Chinese candies from the store that I like and the Valentine’s day candies because they are often red, gold, and silver.

~We took mom out for a traditional Chinese dinner.  It was good – 3 cold dishes (vegetable stuffed tofu, cold chicken, and a scallop/shrimp ceviche like dish), whole fish, duck, Cantonese style noodles, vegetables in deep fried potato dish, lobster, and sesame seed balls for dessert.  I had not seen mom eat so much since she’s arrived.

~On Friday I went to visit my mother in the morning – brought her a pine nut cookie and another sesame candy.  That evening the extended family ate the leftovers – I added fresh rice and peanut noodles because there was not quite enough of each item left for the number of people.

~In previous years, I have had multiple CNY dinners, inviting many guests.  I am still not quite into the routine of this year.  So, my sister and I just celebrated together.  She brought 2 dishes (walnut shrimp and Chinese chicken wings) and I made whole fish and ji.  Ji consists of rice noodles, fat choy (mushroom), dung go (shiitake), and cabbage (which I forgot) and it can be made vegetarian but I used dried shrimp and oyster sauce (in the sauce for the dish).

~For dessert, I made almond jello with mandarin oranges, lychees, and maraschino cherries (for the bright red color, not for health).  I also tried “tangerine pie” (caramelized pineapple pastries) from Pichet Ong’s cookbook, The Sweet Spot. This is an involved recipe.  I made the dough and filling separately on Friday (to let the dough have time to rest).  Today I brought the dough to workable condition and made the rounds.  They have to sit in the fridge before you can brush them with yolk, stick the clove in (not edible), and bake.  However, they tasted great…

~One of my friends posted that she had missed National Nutella day. When I looked, I found David Lebovitz’s site stating that World Nutella day is today. I hadn’t missed it…! I took a brownie recipe, removed 1/3 of the batter, mixed the nutella in, and then swirled it on top. It was very chocolatey…

February 5, 2011 at 10:27 pm Leave a comment

Daring Baker’s Challenge Nov 2010 – Raspberry & Nutella Crostata

The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

[The Daring Bakers are part of the  Daring Kitchen.]


OK… I’m late again.  This holiday season my mother is still in the hospital and my in-laws visited for a week around T-day. My mind has been all over the place.  So, I just wanted to give this tart its due and wait till after T-day.  While I did make traditional pate brisé this week, it was fun to make something related today. (I made a chocolate pecan pie, apple pie, and pumpkin pie – with the pumpkin as the favorite.)  Simona provided so many variations that I may have to re-visit this challenge.

~The dough (pasta frolla):  I used version 1 with powdered sugar.  I also added some vanilla and cream because it was far too dry today.  (Dry & cold)

~Rolling & Filling:  I decided to go with the jam tart rather than the custard or the pastry cream version (custard rather than jam) or the fruit tart (similar to the traditional French fruit tart).  Also, I chose to make little heart cut-outs for the top rather than the lattice.  Since I have made a German version of a jam tart before (similar to a Linzer), I decided to break up the flavors by putting Nutella on the bottom.  Because I had leftover dough, I rolled it out and made cookies.  I sprinkled sparkling sugar over the top.






~Overall:  In the baking, the jam bubbled over part of the crust.  So, I probably should  have put in a little less jam.  The dough tasted like a sugar cookie.  In the past, I always thought that there was too much jam in those German jam tarts.  With the layer of Nutella, this was just perfect and a nice surprise after hitting the sweet jam.  The family thought it tasted quite good.  I want to go back and try the pastry cream version now….!

November 27, 2010 at 3:31 pm 4 comments

Daring Baker’s Challenge 9-2010 Sugar Cookies

The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.


Well, I’m a bit late.  Sigh.  We made the cookies and everything yesterday but I had no time to create a post.  Hopefully this made it in on time…  So, I’ll use few words and mostly pictures this time….

When my daughter found out that I was making these cookies, she really wanted to help decorate.  I used the recipe but added some almond extract to the dough.  I used a lot more lemon juice and no almond extract in the icing.  My daughter and I liked these sugar cookies better than other sugar cookie recipes (and other people’s sugar cookies) from the past. 



*We had a blast decorating.  It’s extremely time consuming but a lot of fun. The one below was my daughter’s favorite.

September 27, 2010 at 7:14 pm Leave a comment

Older Posts