I love Butter Tarts. Most Canadians do. The sweet, ooey-gooey dessert is often referred to as a quintessential and 100% Canadian dessert. They can be plain or filled with raisins, pecans or walnuts. They are similar to a sugar pie. While the first published recipe was in 1900 in The Women’s Auxiliary of Royal Victoria Hospital Cookbook, the recipe is thought to have originated in the 1660s via the 800 women sent from France to help colonize Quebec.
Ontarians, in particular, are crazy about Butter Tarts. You can do a Butter Tart Tour in the Kawarthas, Northumberland, which includes about 50 bakeries, and the town also holds a Butter Tart Bake-Off.
I was shocked to learn that Butter Tarts are really a Canadian-only thing. The Butter Tart is virtually non-existent in the rest of the world! Under the category of sharing a little Canada for our 150th birthday, I am sharing with the world the Canadian classic, the Butter Tart!
Please note that this is not an original recipe. This recipe is from Chatelaine – Classic Butter Tart.
As a nod to the different varieties, I have prepared this recipe plain, with raisins, with pecans, and with walnuts. Which way do you like your butter tarts?
Prep time: 20 minutes + 1 hour chilling time + 20 minutes chilling time; Cook time: 15 minutes + 3 minutes cooling time; Serves: 12
What you need:
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt (optional, based on taster’s feedback)
- 1/3 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 1/4 cup cold lard, cubed
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- 1/4 cup ice water
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup white corn syrup (I used golden)
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- 1/8 tsp salt (optional, based on taster’s feedback)
- raisins, lightly toasted pecans or lightly toasted walnut pieces
What you do:
- Whirl flour and salt in a food processor (use the metal blade)
- Add butter and lard [I put the cubed butter and lard in the freezer while I was getting everything together.]
- Pulse until coarse crumbs form
- Whisk egg yolk, vinegar and ice water in a small bowl
- With motor running, pour the egg yolk, vinegar and ice water combination through feed tube while pulsing until just combined
- Wrap with plastic wrap and press into a disc
- Refrigerate for 1 hour
- Place rack in bottom of oven. Preheat oven to 450F
- Whisk sugar, corn syrup, maple syrup, eggs, butter, vanilla, vinegar and salt in a bowl until smooth.
- Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to ⅛-inch thickness
- Cut into 12 rounds using a 4 ½-inch round cookie cutter, re-rolling scraps. (Note, I did not have a 4 1/2″ cookie cutter, so I used a 4 1/4″ martini glass)
- Gently press rounds into a 12-cup muffin pan. Press sides to adhere.
- Refrigerate for 20 min.
- In bottom of each tart, add one of: 1 tsp raisins; 1 tsp walnut pieces; or leave plain (1 did one version for each of 3 tarts)
- Spoon 2 tbsp filling into each pastry (for the plain tarts I used 3 tbsp)
- Bake for 8 minutes
- Reduce heat to 400F and open oven slightly for 10 seconds
- Bake until filling is puffed and pastry is golden, about 7 more minutes
- Let stand on rack for 3 minutes
- Run a small knife around the edges of tarts and transfer to rack to cool completely.