No matter how you bake them, butter tarts are hailed as a true Canadian
favourite. Dating back to the early 1900’s, butter tarts recipes have been
passed down from generation to generation and many family recipes have
debuted at county fairs all across this nation. Synonymous with tradition
and old-fashioned goodness, many recipes originate from our mothers or
grandmothers who thought nothing of throwing together a batch of pastry,
mixing some butter, sugar and dried fruit and turning out these sweet
confections by the dozen. They were filled with whatever happened to line
the pantry shelf that day and often included raisins, currants, walnuts,
chocolate, cranberries, coconut, pecans or any combination of these.
The perfect butter tart all comes down to preference and Canadians have
definite opinions about whether the filling should be firm and custard-like
or gooey and runny when you bite into it. Over the holidays, I baked
up several recipes while looking for the perfect butter tart but was mostly
disappointed, until finally, I found it. The most delicious butter tart
filling I found, was from a blog called Under the High Chair by Aimée from
Montreal, Canada. These are her mother’s tarts and the only one’s she eats.
If you make them, you’ll be sure to see why.
The filling for these tarts is a perfect combination of both a gooey filling and a
chewy texture. The filling bakes up to a perfect stickiness that’s delicious on
it’s own, or paired with dried fruits and nuts. These tarts perfectly capture the
homemade taste of sweet Canadian baking and are a delight of buttery
goodness from start to finish. First you’ll want to start with a pastry that gives
you a light, flaky crust. This sour cream pastry is easy to handle, rolls out
nicely and bakes up flaky, golden and tender. It’s a perfect butter tart dough.
Double-Crust Sour Cream Pastry
2 1/2 cups (625 ml) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp (2 ml) salt
1/2 cup (125 ml) cold butter, cubed
1/2 cup (125 ml) cold lard, cubed
1/4 cup (50 ml) ice water (approx.)
3 tbsp (50 ml) sour cream
1. In a large bowl, whisk flour with salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in the cold
butter and lard until it’s in fine pieces with just a few larger pieces.
2. Using a liquid measure, whisk water with sour cream. Drizzle over the flour
mixture, tossing briskly with a fork and adding a little more water if necessary,
until a ragged dough forms.
3. Divide the dough in half; press it into 2 discs. Wrap; refrigerate until chilled,
approximately 30 minutes.
The dough can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 3 days or freeze in an
airtight container for up to 1 month. This is a double crust pie recipe that will
make enough for 18-24 butter tarts.
Recipe Source: The Complete Canadian Living Baking Book
Butter Tart Filling
1/3 cup (75 ml) butter, softened
1 cup (250 ml) brown sugar
1/2 cup (125 ml) corn syrup
2 tsp (10 ml) vanilla
1/4 cup (50 ml) raisins
1/4 cup (50 ml) chopped walnuts
1/2 cup (125 ml) coconut, toasted
1/2 tsp (2 ml) salt
2 tablespoons cream
1. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry to generous 1/8-inch (3 mm)
2. Using a 4-inch (10 cm) round cutter, cut out 12 circles, re-rolling any
scraps. Fit into muffin cups; refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, in a bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar until light.
Beat in eggs, corn syrup, and vanilla and mix well. Mix in raisins, walnuts,
coconut, salt and cream. Combine thoroughly. Divide evenly between the
pastry shells, approximately 1/4 cup (50 ml) into each shell.
4. Bake in the centre of a 350 °F (180 ° C) oven until filling is set and pastry is
golden, approximately 20 minutes. Run a thin knife blade around the edges to
release the tarts. Let cool in the muffin cups on a rack for 20 minutes before
transferring to a rack to cool. These tarts can be made ahead and stored in a
single layer in an airtight container at room temperature.
Makes 1 1/2 dozen 2-inch tarts.
Ease the rounds of pastry dough into the muffin cups and gently press them
up against the sides of the cup with your fingertips. Without stretching the
pastry, fit the dough into the cup, working out as many of the folds as possible
for a circular tart shell or leave them wavy for a ruffled effect.
Recipe Source: Under the High Chair
Butter Tart Variations
Plain Butter Tarts: omit the raisins, walnuts and toasted coconut.
Chocolate Butter Tarts: add 3/4 cup ( 175 ml) semi-sweet chocolate
chips, omit raisins, and coconut.
Cranberry Coconut Butter Tarts: add 3/4 cup ( 175 ml) cranberries,
omit raisins and nuts.
Pecan Butter Tarts: add 3/4 cup ( 175 ml) chopped pecans, omit the
raisins, walnuts and toasted coconut.
There are, of course, the tried and trues, but the variations for these tarts are
endless. And, of course, that is what makes them so much fun ~ there’s
something for everyone! I know I had my fair share.
Sshh! That’s all I’m saying about that.
This Sweet Wife ♥