Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Delectable Tart

If the scone is the "queen of sweets" for the tea table, then surely the delectable tart must be her "lady in waiting".  Easy to make, and ever-so-dainty, a variety of tempting tarts offers the tea-taker a symphony of tastes wrapped in  a sweet, melt-in-your mouth shortbread crust.  For an afternoon tea, I delight to offer at least two (and sometimes three!)  types of tarts,.  My favorites are the ever popular lemon curd, tart served plain, or presented with a diminuitive dollop of clotted cream,  the Maid of honor, a delightful jam filled tart with a delicate cake hat punctuated with a flowerette of pink buttercream, and finally, in deference to my east coast  ties, the toothsome Cape Breton Pork Pie.  This little gem, one of my husband's all-time favorites, contains NOT ONE OUNCE OF PORK!  It's name is the subject of some conjecture. My favorite explanation is that they are so good, when you have one, you can't resist having another, and another and another!  Thus, you "pork" out on them, making a little piggy of yourself in the process!  So dear blogerites, here is my recipe for Cape Breton Pork Pies. I found it in a venerated cookbook, which was given to me by my dear friend , June one year for Christmas.  Imagine my delight, precious blogerites, when I received this, to discover that it was the cookbook most used by my own sweet Mom.  In fact, she used it so much it was in tatters by the time she passed away, and was mistakenly discarded when my sisters were packing up her kitchen.. The title page had gone missing when I was just a little girl,  so the name on it's front meant little to me, but the pages looked familiar somehow, so I quickly turned to the cake section to discover the recipe for the birthday cake mom had always made for me.  I felt as though I had recovered a bit of my own heritage from the ashes of time.  What a blessing! Upon further investigation of it, I found the recipe for the Pork Pies, something my husband had intimated was an integral part of his own Christmas tradition from Sydney, Cape Breton.  I made them as a suprise for him, and to his delight, he pronounced them "better" than his auntie's.  So now they are a staple in our house for Christmas, but also for tea.  Enjoy and please let me know how yours turn out.  


Tart Shells:

1 cup of cold, creamery butter ( this is what made them better than Auntie's.  She probably used margarine, which was a common practice in Cape Breton.  The difference it makes to the recipe is unmistakable!)

4 tablespoons icing sugar
2 cups flour

Cut the butter into the flour suing a pastry cutter.  Add sugar and knead until well-blended.  Press small amounts into small muffin tins.  Bake at 425 degrees F. for 10 minutes.  Keep a close eye on them as they brown very quickly, and you DO NOT want to make them too dark. ( In my opinion, the lighter they can be, the better, but that is just MY preference!) Remove and allow to come to room temperature.  Carefully remove from tins, as they are VERY delicate!


2 cups finely chopped dates
1 1/2 cups brown sugar ( I use demerara)
1 cup water
Lemon Juice (the juice of one lemon, whatever that may be.  I usually heat my lemon in the microwave for a quick 10 seconds.  It DOUBLES the amount of juice you will get from it.  How much of that juice you put in is really up to your taste, but I like the whole amount.)

Simmer the above ingredients until the dates are of a soft consistency.  Cool, then fill the tart shells.  Top with a piped swirl of butter cream icing which has been flavoured with maple syrup or flavouring.  YUM! YUM! YUM!  These freeze well, and can be made weeks ahead if covered well in the freezer.

* anecdotal additions are my own, but this wonderful recipe is from "Out of Old Nova Scotia Kitchens" by Marie Nightingale  (Nimbus Publishing Limited)    


  1. You go girl!~ you sure are busy!~ Wow!.., Hope you liked the pictures that I got from you for your, " petite shopping list-du-jour of photos", AND PICTURES FOR YOUR BLOG yesterday!

    THIS IS GOING TO BE FIRST AND FOREMOST SO MUCH FUN FOR YOU!.., I CAN'T WAIT TO PUT SOMETHING TOGETHER FOR YOU FOR YOUR OTHER BLOG!.., We can do the same thing my friend that we did via the phone, utilizing the computer~Joy oh bliss!!~ I WILL ALSO BE DELIGHTED TO BE YOUR TEAM MEMBER,~mon "little Cape Breton tart",Cheri,~FROM TIME TO TIME!..,

    You know I have never made those delightful little tarts; the recipe looks yummy!.., I think this christmas I shall!..,I have made strawberry, cherry and countless butter and mincemeat tarts my dear; it's time I added those little nuggets to my repetoire, for my Christmas Teas this year!..,

    Cheers from Paper Princess, a.k.a./ Silken Purse

  2. I love finding recipes on blogs. Thanks for these little porkers. I love your reasoning for their name!

    I have a question. How much lemon juice? 1 tsp? A dash? I'm one of those that goes directly by the recipe amounts.

  3. This is such a delightful blog, it takes my breath away, since I am a true follower of afternoon tea's and coffee hour culture. Being German I am used to the lovely afternoon break. My mother and grandmother would mainly serve coffee with a sometimes humble acompanyment of rolls, butter and jam, sometimes small cakes, cookies or scrumptious tarts.
    Now living in America I still serve coffee and more often these days tea for my husband and myself. The children love to sit with us, have a cup, tell a few words before running off to do their schoolwork, hang with friends or spend the time elsewhere. It is a wonderful institution in our household, most cherished and loved by our small family and our friends.
    I will certainly stop by often and eventually try my luck and bake your delicious receipes.
    My husband calls it lovingly 'Kuchenstunde', meaning hour of the cake...We both work mainly out of home, so we need this break to save us from forgetting to take a deep breath before evening falls!
    You write so warmheartedly about your expiriences and I can feel your joy and friendship to all out there! I will gladly follow...

    Take good care!