Butter tarts are a year-round Canadian favorite so I am not sure why I started thinking about them at this time of year. Maybe they are special enough and delicious enough to warrant a holiday season to prepare. After doing a little research, I have also discovered that the infamous butter tart really is a genuine Canadian recipe. You often meet people in other areas of the world that have never heard of them.
Butter tarts date back to pioneer Canada and are one of the few truly Canadian pastries. It is believed that other pastries such as sugar pie and pecan pie (two other favorites of mine) have the same origins. The main ingredients are fairly simple; butter, sugar, and eggs. Every Canadian family has its own combination and we all think ours is the best. Of course, I totally believe my mom’s recipe really is at the top of the heap!
You can cheat and rush to your closest grocery store to invest in a package of frozen pastry shells. That just won’t do for the purists among us. Here is my mom’s hand-me-down basic pastry recipe for one batch of butter tarts.
- 1 ¼ cups flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup butter
- ¼ cup ice water
In a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Cut the butter into small chunks and mix into the dry mixture with a pastry blender, and a couple of knives or just dig in with your hands and gently mix until it is a crumbly texture.
Sprinkle the water into the flour mixture and mix gently with your fingers until it is evenly moist and holds together. Press into a ball, wrap the dough in plastic, and place in the refrigerator for a half-hour to an hour.
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to 1/8 inch thickness. You can use either individual muffin cups or a ten or twelve-cup muffin cup pan. Use a round cookie cutter or an inverted glass to cut out circles to match the size of your muffin cups. Carefully place the pastry into the muffin cups.
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoons vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ cup melted butter
- ¼ cup raisins
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts
In a bowl, whisk together brown sugar, vinegar, vanilla, and butter. Mix in the raisins and chopped walnuts. Spoon filling into shells until approximately two-thirds full.
Bake in the bottom third of 425 F oven until filling is puffed and pastry begins to turn golden about 10-12 minutes. Let stand on the rack for 1 minute. Run metal spatula around tarts to loosen; carefully slide a spatula under tarts and transfer to a rack to let cool.
If cooked properly, the pastry should be flaky; the tarts should have a crispy surface and a slightly runny filling.
Makes about 12 large butter tarts. Enjoy!!