Friday, September 4, 2009

best ever butter tart

Butter tarts are (that bit of dessert on the plate in the post below that is not fruit or yogurt or cheese or eggs) the most decadent of Canada's National Treasures. The act of eating one is almost a patriotic duty. As is the annual search for the best butter tart recipes and the inevitable arguments that follow. There are many subtle variations of this beloved dessert but by far the most contentious difference, beyond the amount of gooeiness, is the addition of raisins or pecans or walnuts. Sort of the same argument that exists with banana bread. I personally do not bake, butter tarts or any other desserts - preferring to buy mine and not having to deal with the ensuing cleanup. That may seem lazy to some, but I will happily drive to Dee's Bakery which makes "butter tarts to die for". Check out her website and see for yourself. You can place an order and people from as far away as Australia and England apparently do! Because these are only in Canada. Pity.

Or you could try this recipe I stole from the ever respected Marion Kane.

from CBC website
Q Food Sleuth Marion Kane tracks down one of Canada's most popular desserts and offers this recipe for the best ever butter tart.
Adapted from The Complete Canadian Living Cookbook (Random House), this produces the best homemade butter tart I've tried: flaky, melt-in-the mouth pastry with a gooey but not too runny filling. And they're a cinch to make. - Marion Kane

Use proper baking method for dry ingredients: measuring scoops or spoons and a knife to slice off the top, not a measuring cup. You can make dough in a food processor instead of by hand. I found a 28-oz/796-mL can works perfectly for cutting it into rounds. Add raisins or coarsely chopped pecans, if desired. (Violet has tasted butter tarts with dried cranberries instead of raisins, interesting added flavour)

1½ cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt¼ cup cold butter, cubed
¼ cup cold lard or vegetable shortening, cubed
I large egg yolk
I tsp white vinegar
¼ cup ice-cold water

½ cup packed dark brown sugar
½ cup maple (or golden corn) syrup
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp softened butter
Pinch of salt
¼ to ½ cup raisins
Preheat oven to 375F.

For dough, combine flour and salt in large bowl. Using old-fashioned wire pastry cutter or two knives, cut in butter and lard until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Using fork, stir in egg yolk, lemon and water until dough holds together. Wrap; refrigerate at least 1 hour.

If using raisins, plump them up by covering with boiling water while preparing the rest of the filling.

For filling, vigorously whisk together all ingredients except raisins in medium bowl until combined. (This can be done in food processor.)

Roll out dough on lightly floured surface until fairly but not too thin. Using 4" round cookie cutter or empty 28-oz can, cut into 12 rounds to fit 3" cups of muffin tin. Divide raisins between each pastry shell; spoon on filling.

Bake in oven 15 to 18 minutes or until pastry is golden brown. Cool in pan about 2 minutes. Run knife or small metal spatula around edge of each tart; transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 12 butter tarts.

Eat with care ... and remember it is always better to share!


  1. Oh god. I haven't thought of butter tarts in the longest time. My mother made the best. Half with nuts and half without.

    I'm jonesing for a butter tart now

  2. I've never had a butter tart, but I can see that I would like them very much. I hope I don't have to be a Canadian to eat one. I wonder if we have anything like it over here? The pastry sounds great.

  3. Thanks for posting this. I was wondering what that was in the picture down there and checked your comments to see if anyone had asked and they hadn't when I checked so I assumed everyone but me knew what they were and then I was too afraid to ask. Butter tart. Never heard of it.

  4. Yummm...
    Now if I could just eat some!
    I have Celiac's disease and that is tart is a real no-no for me. :(

    Also - you have been tagged. :)

    Love the wines post too!

  5. I have never tasted a butter tart but they look and sound good!

  6. I have never tasted a butter tart but they look and sound good!

  7. These look and sound very good indeed. Thanks for posting the recipe.

    CJ xx

  8. Oooh, I recognise these! My mother had a receipe in a Women's Guild cook book called 'Canadian Tartlets'. They were rather scrumptious. I must look it out (since measuring in cups is beyond me).

  9. They sound delicious!

  10. With rain coming down at 60°F, a Canadian tart with a hot cup of coffee would be most welcome!

    I'm hesitant to try out any recipe these days (oven issues), but I guess that baking one myself is the only way to taste one.

    Getting one of the ingredients would involve a drive to the US/English grocery shop near Brussels:
    maple syrup is not on sale in regular stores in Belgium, but I'm sure corn syrup won't spoil the recipe.

  11. Jazz: I hope you found some for the weekend - a long weekend treat!

    Irene: anyone can eat one, you just to be in Canada to buy one.

    Geewits: as I was preparing that last post, it evolved into a set up for this one - I was surprised how long it took for anyone to comment on the tart! These are one of those things that has never left the border for some reason.

    Sistertex: sorry for the cruel temptation.

    Maggie: they are. think of pecan pie - similar but better.

    Crystal: you are welcome.

    Linda: if you make them, let me know. I was confused at first - I guess you are used to measuring by weight?

  12. Total tease, mmm butter tarts, they are a very Canadian treat aren't they. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  13. Hmmmm, I'm wondering why I've never had the chance to sample these wondrous tarts? :)

    The recipe sounds a little like pecan pie w/o the pecans, or with, depending on your wishes. I may have to try them. They would be perfect for taking on a trip to a lake cottage! lol

  14. I have been catching up on blog reading as the summer slows down and your posts have been wonderful. My fave is butter tarts with raisans and the gooyer the better.
    Thanks for visiting my blog....I do take all day to travel up or down the coast because I stop to take pictures, walk the amazing beaches or collect rocks from Shiny Rock beach...another post.
    Have a wonderful weekend.
    Blessings and smiles

  15. ...another reason for me to visit Canada...
    I was thinking this sounded like pecan pie too...

  16. aargh - having a few issues with getting email alerts to comments - sorry.

    Scott: these are a particular favourite

    Peter: I'm quite positive that most of the ones sold to grocery stores are made with corn syrup - only a home made bakery would use maple syrup - so try it (once your oven issues are solved). Or, if feeling flush, order some from Dee's Bakery.

  17. Pearl Maple: yes they are. have I teased you into making your own?

    Susan: I don't know why these haven't infiltrated their way across the border... very strange. but, yes, they would make a great treat for a lake cottage. I should remember that next time I'm at one :)

    Carolyn: thanks. and I like the ones with raisins - they catch some of the yummy goo!

    Oliag: YES!

  18. I have never even heard of butter tarts,

  19. SAW: but now you'll be wanting some? (though, as I recall, you didn't sound very enthused about my other favourite dessert - rice pudding!)

  20. I cannot wait to try this, thank you for posting this recipe!

  21. AmyR: I'm sure you will enjoy them.

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