Whiskey Butterscotch Tartlets

Today, I have some big news. I'm going to pastry school! 

I know, it's a big change from university, but it's what I want to do. I was studying ancient Greece and Rome at university and, after 2 and a half years, I decided that it was about time to stop doing something that I found pointless and start doing something worthwhile.

When I entered university, I didn't know what I wanted to do, but I thought I would figure it out after my first year. I didn't find it in first year or second year and I thought this was normal. I took Classics because it was interesting to me but, ultimately, I didn't see myself being able to get a job relevant to my degree after university, nor did I even want to. 

In the summer after second year, I started looking into pastry school. Baking was a hobby of mine, but I was starting to get more and more into it. I would daydream about what I could bake on the weekend or what new baking supplies I might get for my birthday. 

I toured one pastry school and the idea really hit home. I could do this. It seemed right and I was excited about my future for the first time in a long time. 

However, it was too soon for my parents to just let me drop out, especially since I wanted to go travelling in the summer and then start pastry school. So, I ended up doing one more semester. Right after classes ended, I did a tour of another pastry school. That sealed the deal for me. I applied and was accepted within a few days. 

So that's that! I'll be starting in July, but I'm not going to school this semester. Why waste money on something I'm not passionate about? 

It is a bit scary to think that I won't be in "traditional" school anymore. I mean, I've been in school every year since kindergarten.... I've been in school for 15 and a half years. And now.... I'm not. It's definitely weird, but also really exhilarating. I'm still planning to go to Europe this summer with my boyfriend, which is great! So, until then, I'm upping my hours at work and making some moolah to put towards pastry school (it isn't cheap!). But I'm super happy that I'm finally doing something that I really want to do. 

Whiskey Butterscotch Tartlets

Oat Whole Wheat Crust
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (170 grams) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup milk

Butterscotch Pudding
6 large egg yolks
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups whole milk
1 vanilla bean
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons whiskey

Put the rolled oats in a food processor and process for about 30 seconds, until the oats are ground but not powder. Add the flours, brown sugar, and salt, and pulse until it's all combined.

Add the butter and pulse until the butter pieces are pea-sized and the dough looks crumbly. Add the milk and pulse for a few more seconds.

Scoop the dough out and form it into a large disk. Wrap it up in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours.

Flour your work surface. Unwrap the dough and divide it up into 10 equal pieces, each a little under 2 ounces. Shape each one into a smooth disk. Wrap these up again and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Using a rolling pin, roll out each disk into a 6-inch round just over 1/8 inch thick. Place each round over your tartlet pan and gently press the dough into the pan. Trim off any excess dough and set aside. You can use these scraps to make an eleventh tartlet. 

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Put the tartlet pans in the freezer for 30 minutes. Remove them and arrange them on a baking sheet. Gently prick them with a fork.  Bake them on the baking sheet until golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through.

Transfer the tartlet pans to a wire rack and let them cool completely.

For the butterscotch pudding, put the egg yolks in a large heatproof bowl and set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine the granulated sugar and 1/4 cup water and stir gently with a heatproof spatula, being careful not to splash the sides of the pan. Cook over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved, then up it to medium-high heat. Cook the mixture until it turns a golden colour, then take off the heat and let it sit for a minute. In this time, it will turn a dark amber colour. If you wait until it's already dark amber and then take off the heat, it will burn in seconds and produce a lot of smoke. Trust me. Stir in the cream and pour the caramel into a small bowl or jar.

In another small saucepan, combine the brown sugar, cornstarch, and sat. Stir in the milk and whisk to combine.

Cut the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds and the pod to the milk. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the caramel, whisking to combine. Slowly pour a ladle of the milk mixture onto the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Transfer the egg yolk mixture into the saucepan and return to the heat, whisking constantly. Boil the mixture for 2 to 3 minutes.

Take off the heat and add the butter and whiskey, whisking to combine.

Let the pudding sit for about 15 minutes and then remove the vanilla bean.

To assemble the tarts, whisk the pudding until it is smooth, then divide it up between the tartlets. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.

The tartlets can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 days.