Toronto·HOLIDAY EATS

'Wicked, sinful, divine' currant tarts a treat that transcends generations

Wicked, sinful, divine — none of these words are particularly Christmas-y but they have all been used to describe Grandma Visser's Tarts, one of host Anne-Marie Mediwake's favourite holiday traditions.

These are the kind of tarts people will come over to tell you they love them

Anne-Marie Mediwake with her pastry chefs Annabel and Libby. (Maxim Konynenbelt )

CBC Toronto reporters share their favourite Christmas treats in our Holiday Eats series.

Wicked, sinful, divine — none of these words are particularly Christmas-y but they have all been used to describe Grandma Visser's Tarts, one of our favourite holiday traditions.

Grandma Visser was my husband's Dutch grandmother. When Darryl and I started dating, the only thing he said he wanted for his birthday was his grandmother's tarts. So I boldly asked for the recipe — we weren't even married yet — and I've been making them ever since.

Host Anne-Marie Mediwake loves to bake Grandma Visser's Tarts at Christmastime. (Maxim Konynenbelt)

These are the kind of tarts people will come over to tell you they love them. I usually end up handing out the recipe wherever I bring them. As I rarely bake, this makes me feel pretty awesome.

I also love them because of their connection to our Konynenbelt family history.

Anne-Marie Mediwake's pastry chefs gobble up the goodies. (Anne-Marie Mediwake/CBC)

Grandma Visser's family originated from the small city of Enschede in eastern Netherlands near the German border, before coming to Canada in the early 1900s. Rachel or Rae as she was known, created this recipe as she did not like the too-sweet taste of butter tarts. Legend has it, the first time this recipe was published was in a church cookbook in the 1950s.

If you bake them (and you should) and are asked for the recipe, my only request is that you be sure to name them "Grandma Visser's Tarts."

Have a wonderful holiday!

Grandma Visser's Tarts

(Via Rachel Visser a.k.a. Grandma Visser)

  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 3 tablespoons half-and-half 
  • 1 1/4 cup currants
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 24 store bought 3-inch tart shells

Directions

Pre-bake tart shells for 10 minutes, or until flaky.

Cream together the butter and brown sugar.

Add the ingredients in the order given. Mix well.

Anne-Marie Mediwake's fellow pastry chefs Annabel and Libby give the ingredients a good mix. (Maxim Konynenbelt)

Immediately put mixture into shells. Use a teaspoon per shell.

Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes.

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