Butter Tarts

I never knew butter tarts were Canadian until I left Canada and never saw them again! I’ve always wondered why they haven’t made it big south of the 49th parallel, and after you try one, two or three of these you’ll wonder too.

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Simply put, a butter tart is a small pastry tart with a syrupy, buttery, delicious filling that oozes out as you bite into it. It’s similar to the Quebeçois sugar pie or the American pecan pie, but there’s no cornstarch added to the filling so that it stays fluid, dripping down your fingers, which will definitely need licking once you’ve finished with the tart. 

Butter tarts in a muffin pan with two missing.

The key to a perfect butter tart is the pastry. It must be a butter pastry (no shortening or lard) and because pastry has so few ingredients, make sure you get the best butter you can – which would be a European cultured butter if you can find it. European cultured butter has at least 82% butterfat and a slightly sour taste (which sounds unappealing, but really is just more flavor and is delicious). Once you have the perfect pastry, the butter tart filling is really quite simple.

Five Butter Tarts on a marble cake stand on a white wooden table.

Butter tarts offer a certain freedom to the baker. They are supposed to look rustic, which gives  you permission to be less than perfect as you shape the pastry shells and fill them. Let the pastry get pleated in the muffin cups and try to fill the cups only two thirds of the way full. The filling will bubble and boil in the oven, rising up in the cups before they fall as the tarts cool. The filling might spill over the edge of the pastry, which is a pain in the neck to clean off the pan, but does no damage to the appearance of the tarts. 

Biting into your first butter tart is a treat you won’t soon forget. It’s an experience that leaves an impression… the impression that you’d like another please.

Watch The Recipe Video

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Butter Tarts

  • Servings:
    12
    tarts

Ingredients

  • 2 Basic Pie Dough disks equivalent to 2 (10-inch circles)
  • 2 eggs
  • cups brown sugar
  • ½ cup light corn syrup
  • 3 tablespoons butter melted
  • 1 cup currants or raisins or chopped walnuts or pecans optional
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350˚ F.
  2. Roll the pastry out to ¼-inch thick. Using a circle cutter, cut the pastry into circles about 2 inches wider in diameter than the muffin pan cups you plan to use. Place circles of pastry into the muffin pan and place the muffin pan in the refrigerator until you are ready to fill the cups.
  3. Beat the eggs well with a stand mixer, hand mixer or vigorously by hand with a whisk until smooth and light in color.
  4. Add the sugar, corn syrup, and melted butter to the eggs, and beat again. Add the currants or nuts (if using), vinegar, vanilla extract and salt and mix well.
  5. Fill the shells two thirds full with the batter and bake until the pastry is light brown – about 25 to 30 minutes.
  6. Let the tarts cool in the pan. Then un-mold and serve.
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Comments (1)Post a Reply

  1. As a Canadian, Butter Tarts are a staple here, I’ve been making them as long as I can remember-as a child they were a Christmas treat, my mother would make them and my siblings and I would sneak them out of the freezer and enjoy them – my favorite are the plain ones – I generally use a pie dough to make them – but will try your pastry recipe- mmm I just love Butter Tarts and I may do up a batch today.. it’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed one or two lol

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