Butter Tarts

My friend Emily once told me that there’s something to be said for subservience in a relationship.

My automatic reaction was to dismiss her. I’ve been raised to resist dependence, particularly on a boyfriend, and the idea of being subservient seemed, well, rather archaic.

But I keep coming back to this, the skill (yes, it’s a skill) that allows you to concede absolute control to someone else. I just can’t seem to do it – I can’t release my grip on the reins, even when I’m passing them over to someone I trust completely.

It’s taken me a while to come around to the idea that this is not always a redeeming quality. Sure, it’s great to be independent, but at some point, I’m going to have to let go.

This little problem of mine has been a constant handicap. For starters, the thought of going in a cab paralyzes me for the simple fact that I am nowhere near in control. Sadly enough, this also happens to apply to when my boyfriend, TJ, is driving.

My backseat driving is only the half of it. I get so bad that if TJ even tries to do something spontaneous (and dare I say, romantic), I panic. If I haven’t planned, mapped and predicted the day’s events, I can become a bit hysterical.

Which, I’m realizing, is not only affecting my own sanity and quality of life – it’s paying a pretty heavy toll on TJ, too. He can feel powerless, like he’s constantly sitting in the passenger’s seat of our relationship as I drive along as planned. Needless to say, this has caused issues.

So as much as it pains me (and that women’s studies degree I have lurking in my back closet), I am finally conceding that yes Emily, there is a lot to be said on mutual subservience in a relationship. And there certainly is a lot to be said on not just having trust, but actually showing it.

So let’s get talking.

Butter Tarts
Makes about 12 tarts.


Mixing bowls
Measuring cups and spoons
Pastry blender
Plastic wrap
Muffin or tart tin
Cutting board
Circular cookie cutter
Medium saucepan
Wooden spoon


5 1/4 cups pastry flour
3/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled
3/4 cup all-vegetable shortening, chilled
1/2 cup ice water
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp white sugar
Olive oil cooking spray

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 eggs


In a large bowl, sift flour. With a pastry blender, cut in butter and shortening until mixture resembles pea-sized pellets. In a small bowl, combine water, salt and sugar until granules dissolve. Make a well in center of flour mixture and add water mixture all at once. With a fork, stir mixture until water is completely absorbed. Gather into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Mist a muffin or tart tin with cooking spray. On a flour-dusted board, roll out dough into 1/8 to 1/4-inch thickness. With a floured round cookie cutter or the rim of a glass (circle should be large enough for pastry to fit in tin cups), cut dough into circles and line tin with pastry; if desired, cup tart shells in the palm of a rounded hand to form into a flower shape before placing in tin. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter on medium-low. Add sugars, corn syrup, vinegar and vanilla. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly to prevent mixture from burning, until thickened. Remove from heat and whisk in eggs, one at a time. Divide mixture among tart shells, filling each 3/4-full. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.