This is my go-to recipe for those juicy, somewhat runny, butter tarts. I’ve been using this recipe for years, just like the saying goes; if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Never had a complaint, besides, it’s hard to complain when you’re stuffing this awesomely good butter tart into your mouth. I love pecans in my butter tarts, but some people like raisins. Take your pick these are great with either one, or just use both if you can’t decide! I like to incorporate a little Kamut or spelt flour into my baking, not only does it add a hint of grainy nutty flavour, but you can actually tell yourself that these are good for you because of the extra fiber content, hahaha.
Butter tarts are a big deal here in Ontario. There’s the Kawarthas Northumberland Butter Tart Tour,and the Butter Tart Trail in Wellington, there’s a Butter Tart Festival in Midland and at the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto is the annual Great Canadian Butter Tart Bake-Off.
If you’d like to try some maple syrup butter tarts, I also included the ‘Maple Butter Tarts’ recipe printed by the Local newspaper and courtesy of Kyla Eaglesham of Madeleines bakery.
Difficulty level – EASY! (especially if you buy frozen ready to bake tartlet shells)
Pastry: (see below for another pastry recipe)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup kamut flour
3/4 cup margarine or butter
2-3 tablespoons cold water
Mix all ingredients together with a fork and form into a disc shape. Roll between 2 sheets plastic wrap about a ¼ inch thick. Use extra flour as needed. Cut out circles with a very large cookie cutter. Gently fit circles into muffin tray.
Refrigerate pastry while preparing filling.
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup raisins or pecans
Mix first 4 ingredients all together very well until sugar is smooth and not lumpy. Spoon mixture into unbaked pastry shells until ¾ full. Top with whole or chopped pecans or raisins. Bake at 375°F for about 20 minutes. Let tarts cool for easier removal from tart pan.
*note* To prevent raisins from soaking up all the liquid in the tart, soak raisins in a juice or liqueur before using.
*Don’t over fill tart shell, filling will bubble up during baking.
Maple Butter Tarts
1-1/2 cups (375 mL) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp (2 mL) fine sea salt
1/2 cup (125 mL) cold lard or non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening, cut in small pieces
3 tbsp (45 mL) ice water
1 tsp (5 mL) white vinegar
2 large eggs
1 cup (250 mL) packed light brown sugar
1/4 tsp (1 mL) fine sea salt
2 tsp (10 mL) white vinegar
1/2 cup (125 mL) pure maple syrup
6 tbsp (90 mL) melted unsalted butter
12 raw pecan halves (optional)
For pastry, in large bowl, combine flour and salt. Using pastry cutter, fork or cold hands, cut in lard or shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some larger pieces (like crumbled popcorn). Make well in center.
In small bowl, combine water and vinegar. Add 2 tbsp (30 mL) to flour. Knead until pastry holds together, being careful not to over mix and using some or all of remaining water mixture as needed. Form into loose hockey puck that’s soft with a marbled texture. Wrap in plastic. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 3 days. Let pastry come to room temperature 30 minutes before rolling.
On lightly floured surface, roll pastry to 1/4-inch (6-mm) thick. Using 4-inch (10-cm) round cutter or water glass, cut out 12 circles (so they’re just bigger than a hockey puck), re-rolling and cutting scraps. Fit into bottom of 12 non-stick or lightly greased muffin cups (they won’t fill cups). Wrap with plastic. Refrigerate at least 1 hour but preferably overnight for flakier pastry.
For filling, in medium bowl using hand mixer or whisk, beat eggs 1 minute. Beat in sugar and salt. Beat in vinegar and maple syrup. Add butter. Beat 3 to 5 minutes until very smooth.
Divide filling among prepared tart shells, about 1/4 cup (60 mL) per tart. Top each with 1 nut, if desired.
Bake in preheated 450F (230C) oven 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350F (180C). Bake 10 to 15 minutes for gooey tarts, or 20 to 25 minutes for firm ones.
Let muffin pan stand on rack 1 minute. Use metal spatula and/or spoon to carefully loosen tarts and transfer to rack to cool.
Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.