Saturday, April 3, 2010

Butterscotch Bunny Tarts

When I was a kid butterscotch pudding and I were best friends.  We spent a lot of time together.  I would make up a batch and eat it all by myself.  Somewhere along the road of life, butterscotch pudding and I lost tract of each other.  We had a reunion today, and it was good.
My original plan was to make some bunny tarts with a lemon curd filling.  But lemon curd and bunnies didn’t seem like a good match.  I decided I wanted to use a filling that was more kid friendly, and my mind wandered back to my childhood friend, butterscotch.
I started with a recipe from The Joy of Vegan Baking.  I cut the recipe in half to test it out, and used Soy creamer for the non dairy milk because it has the thickest “cream” like consistency.  This recipe calls for brown sugar as the sweetener.  The flavor and consistency were very good.  I think I might try adding a little butterscotch flavoring next time, to boost the flavor profile...oh yes, there will be a next time.  Butterscotch pudding and I have a lot of catching up to do!
I wanted to know if you could get the same results using dark agave instead of brown sugar so I made another half recipe substituting agave for the sugar.  The agave pudding didn’t have any butterscotch flavor or color, it was very disappointing.  I was hoping for a lower glycemic pudding. (I tired adding a few pinches of tumeric for color but it didn’t help) Rather than waste the ingredients, I melted some semi sweet chocolate and stirred it in.  Chocolate is very good at masking flavors that are not quite right.  So, I made a few chocolate bunny tarts as well.  Mr. RK will appreciate the chocolate tarts!

I used my standard pastry recipe.  I use a combination of Earth Balance non hydrogenated butter substitute and non hydrogenated palm shortening instead of butter.  It’s doesn’t taste as rich as a pure butter crust but if you can’t, or won’t eat butter, this combo makes the flakiest crust.  You can see the little white dots of palm shortening in the dough below.

Vegan Pastry Crust

Makes one 9” crust or four 5” tarts plus decorations - Use organic ingredients whenever possible.

1 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
6 tablespoons non hydrogenated butter substitute
2 tablespoons palm shortening (Spectrum)
1 tablespoon unrefined sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup ice cold water (plus a tablespoon or more if needed)
Cut the butter and shortening into tablespoon size pieces and freeze for 30 minutes.
Mix the flour, sugar and salt together and refrigerate.
Add the butter sub and palm shortening to the flour mixture.
Using a pastry cutter, break the fats up into pea sized pieces.
Pour in the 1/4 cup of water and stir, then use your fingers to bring the dough together.
Add 1 more tablespoon of water if the dough doesn’t quite come together.
Form a disk and refrigerate for an hour.
Preheat your oven to 375
Roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thick and cut it to fill your pans, and any decorations that you want.
Using a fork, poke holes in the dough so it doesn’t puff up. (you don’t need to poke holes in the bunnies-that would just be mean)
Bake the tarts for 20 - 25 minutes, or until they are golden brown.
Any decorations should only cook for 10-15 minutes, so watch them so they don’t burn.
Let them cool before filling.  It’s best to fill the tarts right before serving so they don’t get soggy, or if put a thin layer of melted chocolate on the bottom or the tart first to protect it.
Butterscotch Pudding Filling
Fills 4 tarts plus some extra - Use organic ingredients whenever possible
3 tablespoons non-hydrogenated butter substitute (Earth Balance)
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 cups natural soy creamer, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1/2 teaspoon natural butterscotch flavoring (optional)
Melt the butter in a heavy pot over a low heat.
Add the brown sugar and stir with a whisk until the sugar is melted and bubbling.
Gradually add 1/2 cup of the creamer, whisk until blended.
Add the rest of the creamer and whisk until blended.
Remove from heat.
In a small bowl, combine the water and cornstarch, mixing until smooth.
Whisk the cornstarch mixture into the creamer mixture.
Return the pot to the stove on a medium heat and cook, whisking until the pudding starts to thicken.
Turn the heat down to low and continue cooking, and whisking for a minute or two longer.
Turn off the heat and whisk in the vanilla and butterscotch flavorings.
Let the pudding cool before filling the tarts.
(If a skin forms on the pudding, whisk the pudding vigorously before filling the tarts)

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