These made-in-China butter tarts gain a bit in translation – a sharpening shot of black vinegar. A passage from Nellie McClung I was reading a few months ago reminded me that people used to make pies out of not much more than vinegar, sugar, and eggs. I do love a tart element in pastry, though often this comes from fruit – lemon, lime, apples, or raspberries. I made these on a day when I was feeling some angst about my approaching return to Canada. The bitter walnuts and coarse deep brown sugar (here called hong tang, or red sugar) complete a dark twist on the sweet, basic, and quintessentially Canadian butter tart recipe.
The tarts were very well received when I served them, though the pastry I used was much too rich. You can use your own or bought tart shells. These work best as mini tarts and go great with coffee or a glass of milk.
Beat together two eggs, 1 cup dark brown sugar, ½ cup corn syrup, 1 tbs black vinegar, ¼ cup melted butter, 1 tsp vanilla. Put a walnut half (about 30 total) in each of about two and a half dozen mini tart shells and spoon filling into the shells. Bake in a 400 degree oven til pastry is browned and filling is just set, about eight minutes.