Canadian butter tarts are one of the many signature treats from Canada that were part of my boyhood, growing up in northern New York state.
This old fashioned recipe for them is easy to make and taste just like what I remember from half a century ago.
What are butter tarts?
Butter Tarts are one of the hallmarks of Canadian sweet treats. Some people prefer them with a firm filling and without raisins.
Others, like me, enjoy a slightly runny and gooey filling in them
Neatness has never been a strong point of mine, especially when it comes to savoring and enjoying something this delicious. It’s almost like a private moment. They are that good!
Fortunately, you can make these with raisins or without raisins. Likewise, you can make these butter tarts firm or runny.
It is totally up to you and we will show you how to make them either way!
What’s in them
For the Pastry:
- Butter or Lard
- Egg Yolk
- Ice Water
For the Filling:
- Brown Sugar
- Corn Syrup
- Vanilla Extract
Optional butter tart filling ingredients:
- Shredded Coconut
How to make butter tarts
You’re going to start making these by assembling all of the equipment that you need.
- Mixing bowls
- Measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
- Pastry cutter
- 4-inch cookie cutter
- Rolling pin
- Mini muffin pan
Now that you have all the kitchen tools necessary, let’s get your kitchen nice and comfy and preheat your oven to 450° F.
And now it’s time to gather your ingredients as shown above. You will start by making the pastry shell.
- Use a large mixing bowl and stir the salt into the flour.
- Next, use a pastry cutter and work the butter (or lard) into the flour mixture.
- Combine the egg yolk and vinegar and add ice water and stir it until combined.
- Pour this ice water mixture over the flour.
- Use a fork to briskly work the flour and water mixture together.
- Form dough into a disk, wrap with plastic, and chill in the refrigerator for an hour.
While your butter tart dough is chilling, let’s get started on the filling.
This step is super easy.
- Use a large mixing bowl and combine all the butter tart filling ingredients.
- Use a whisk and stir until thoroughly blended, then set aside.
After the pastry dough has chilled for an hour or so, it’s time for things to get really fun!
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the chilled dough to about 1/8″ thickness (or 3mm.)
- Next, use a 4-inch round cookie cutter (or drinking glass) and cut out 12 pastry shells. Re-roll the scraps if necessary.
- Tuck the butter tart pastry shells into the pan shown.
- If you want to use raisins or currants, divide them evenly into the shells.
Now spoon the butter tart filling into each pastry shell, filling them about 3/4 of the way.
Now you’ll place the unbaked butter tarts onto an oven rack in the lower one-third of your oven.
Bake these puppies for about 12 minutes.
When the pastry turns golden brown, and filling is puffed and bubbly, it’s time to bring these babies back to Mama.
Allow the baked tarts to sit for a minute or so.
Then, use a metal spatula and loosen the edges of them and carefully lift and transfer to a cooling rack.
I’ll admit. This is the hardest step for me. Letting them cool.
If somehow on or two of these old-fashioned butter tarts don’t make it to the serving platter, I fully understand.
And I won’t judge. I promise.
Can You Freeze Butter Tarts?
Yes! These freeze very well and taste great when thawed. I like to gently reheat them for a little added comfort.
Do They Need to Be Refrigerated?
Butter tarts should be refrigerated and can be stored up to 3 days. These taste best when served at room temperature!
How do I Make the Butter Tart Filling Firmer?
If you prefer your filling to be less runny, simply increase the brown sugar to 3/4 cup and decrease the corn syrup to 1/4 cup.
Also, you can leave these in the oven for an extra minute or two for a firmer and more solid butter tart filling.
Do Butter Tarts have Raisins?
Add (or leave out) any of the optional fillings of your choosing.
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Canadian Butter Tarts Recipe
For the Butter Tart Pastry
- 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup butter chilled and cubed
- 1/4 cup butter cubed
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp vinegar
To make the butter tart pastry
- Use a large bowl to combine and whisk the flour and salt. Work in butter and/or lard using a pastry cutter.
- Whisk the egg yolk and vinegar and then add enough ice water to make 1/3 cup (75 mL). Sprinkle this over the flour mixture and stir briskly using a table fork until the pastry holds together.
- Press and form the dough into a disc and then wrap it in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill for one hour.
For the butter tart filling
- Combine all of the filling ingredients into a large bowl and whisk together until thoroughly combined.
To finish the butter tart recipe
- On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/8 inch (3 mm) thickness.
- Use a 4-inch round cookie cutter (or the rim of a drinking glass) and cut out 12 pastry forms. Re-roll the scraps if necessary.
- Place the forms in a 2-3/4- x 1-1/4-inch (7 x 3 cm) muffin pan and evenly divide the optional raisins among them. Fill each pastry shell 3/4 to the top with the butter tart filling.
- Bake in the lower third of your oven for about 12 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and the butter tart filling is puffed and bubbly. Remove from oven and allow to rest for a minute or two.
- Use a metal spatula to carefully loosen the sides of the butter tarts and transfer them to a metal cooling rack.