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Butter tarts

Butter tarts. They even sound decadent. And they are! A flaky butter pastry encasing a caramelized sugar filling, these little pastries are most certainly a delight to any Canadian! Or, of course, a converted Frenchman.

Butter tarts take me back to cottage country when I was growing up, where my family and I would stop at the Hidden Goldmine Bakery in Madoc, Ontario where they had various cookies, brownies, bars, and of course butter tarts. Butter tarts are my Dad’s most favourite treat, so we always had to get a pack (or two!) before heading up to the lake. He loved his with chopped nuts, wheres my Mom preferred hers with raisins.

I personally would eat them no matter what was (or wasn’t) inside!

Now that I’ve changed provinces, it’s hard to make it to the cottage. But every once and a while I pull out my tart tins and whip up a batch of butter tarts: with nuts for my Dad, and with raisins for my Mom.

I hope you enjoy them as much as my family does! Let me know in the comments about your take on what belongs (or doesn’t belong!) in a butter tart.

This recipe is slightly less sweet than other tarts I have tried, so they are perfect if you always found butter tarts too sweet (and if you like it when they make your teeth ring, add 1/2 cup more sugar!). They taste slightly maple-like, even if there is no maple syrup! It’s all the caramelized brown sugar and that hint of cream.

Butter Tarts


Pie Crust
– 1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1 tbsp granulated sugar
– 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
– 1/8 to 1/4 cup cold water

– 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
– 1 cup light brown sugar
– 2 large eggs
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 1/4 cup cream
– 1/2 cup pecans, walnuts, or raisins (optional)


1. In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, salt. Add butter, and process until well combined (it will be crumbly). Add a bit of water at a time, just until the dough forms itself into a ball easily. I only needed to use 1/8th of a cup. Remove dough from food processor and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least one hour.
2. Once the dough has chilled, remove from fridge and place it on a well floured surface. Roll it out to form 12 4-inch rounds. I used a glass rim to cut out my circles, but you can use whatever is handy and roughly the correct side. Fit each round into a muffin tin. Cover with a kitchen towel and return it to the fridge as you prepare the filling.
3. With an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then add the vanilla. Stir in the cream, and then the nuts/raisins if you wish.
4. Preheat oven to 375F and spoon the filling into each pastry cup. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the pastry is slightly golden and the filling has puffed up and set.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before removing the tarts from the pan.

Enjoy at room temperature or chilled.

Recipe from Joy of Baking