Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The dessert exchange

Do you guys participate in Christmas dessert exchange parties?  This is somewhat of a new concept to me.  Until a few years ago I had not heard of the "dessert exchange" and I don't remember my mom participating in them when I was growing up.

First of all, just so everyone knows - I am not a skilled baker - unlike my best friend Ashley, who is the go-to-girl for cakes and cupcakes.  See some of her talented work here...

monkey cupcakes for her sister's baby shower

safari animal cupcakes for her nephew's birthday party

a birthday cake for the biggest Bruin's (or maybe just Chara) fan I know

So, even though I am not necessarily the best baker (nor am I really a fan of baking), for the past few years I have participated in the annual Shanonna Christmas Exchange.  Hosted by my friends Shanon and Donna of course.  It's always a blast, and the dessert exchange is really secondary to all of the Christmas celebrating that is going on.  Fine by me- maybe people won't realize that my contribution is less than desirable.  

This year we are baking for 22 people.  YES, 22!!!  It's crazy.  Thankfully, my mom took pity on me (I've had a few baking disasters in the past) and invited me to spend a Saturday afternoon with her where she would basically hold my hand and walk me through baking a million 132 sugar tarts.  I was so relieved.  

My mom is an excellent baker.  This is her recipe book.  I think it's about 30 years old. One day we'll have to go through it and make sure we can preserve all our favourite recipes.  

Here's the recipe we followed.  Half English, half French.  (Just like me!)  Hardly any instructions were written down, my mom seems to just know what to do in her head.  This always impresses me.

We started with the pastry shell. 

I combined  
  • 1 package Crisco
  • 5 cups flour
Using a butter knife, I "cut" the Crisco into the flour.  If you don't know what I'm talking about check out this video.  The person in the video is using a pretty fancy utensil, but I found the butter knife worked out fine.  Basically, you want the end product to be sort of crumbly.

Then I added 
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
into a measuring cup and beet it together.  Once it's mixed together well, fill the measuring cup with cold water until it reaches the 1 cup mark.

To roll out the pastry, I made a ball which was about the size of a grapefruit and placed it on the clean and "floured" surface.  I rolled out the pastry, trying to get it as thin as possible (you don't want really doughy tarts).  Then, using a drinking glass with flour around the rim, I cut out as many circles as I could.  This was pretty fun.

After cutting my circles I filled my ungreased mini-muffin tins with the pastry shells.  They don't need to be perfect, I think the imperfections give the tarts character. 

To make the sugar filling, I combined
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 drop vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon water
After mixing the filling together really well, I used a glass measuring cup with a spout to pour the mixture into my tart shells.  I filled them about 3/4 of the way.  This amount of sugar filling only fills about 8 tarts, you can choose to double/triple the recipe if you like. 

Then you pop them in the oven for about 18-20 minutes at 375 and wait for your little tarts to turn a nice, golden brown.  I freaked out a bit when I saw the filling puffing up as they baked - I thought they were going to explode.  But once they came out of the oven and cooled down the filling settled.

mmmm, just look at that gooey sugar filling.....melts in your mouth

I'm pretty impressed!  With my tarts and the fact that I took these picture with my phone.

I packaged them up in a large winter boot box with wax paper.  They are currently stored in my freezer until Saturday when will I create 22 individual packages that hopefully look something like this: 

Apparently the tarts can stay in the freezer for a few months a be a-ok as long as they are stored well.  And don't even think about the nutritional info for these tarts.  It's basically all crisco and sugar...enough said.

This recipe makes about 8 dozen mini tarts.  And you will need to make roughly 12 batches of the filling.

Hopefully the ladies enjoy them.  I'm really looking forward to the stash I will be coming home with.  Derek might be more excited.  

Anyone else participating in these crazy dessert exchanges?  Anyone have awesome recipes they want to share?

Until next time!                           


  1. I've been racing to learn all my moms recipes. Unfortunately, she has them all in her head, not one drop in a book, which is amazing since she learned everything from my dad's mom.

    It was all too convenient living in her house and eating those things, but every time I go back there I try and get her to show me something because you're right, someone has to preserve the family recipes.

  2. Yes, that's a good idea Nata. My sister has done a good job at picking up my mom's baking. It's so nice to pass along recipes that you enjoyed as a kid!

  3. I love this! Mom's recipe book is amazing, and that recipe is hilarious - "ajouté une tbsp vinegar" lol. How much dough does one that recipe make, and how many times do you need to make the filling?

    And yeah, everyone loves it when I make Mom's pear pie! I'm considering making another one just to have it for breakfast...

  4. Very good question Danielle...I will update the post to let people know that it makes about 8 dozen mini tarts. You need to make the filling about 12 times.
    Pear pie for breakfast is awesome!