Sweet, gooey, sinfully buttery, quintessentially Canadian, flaky little pastries.
These scrumptious little goodies are without a doubt, in my estimation, the best butter tarts I have ever made. It took me a verrrry long time to get here. Lots of recipe hunting and tweeking, experimenting, trial and error. But I have arrived. At butter tart nirvana. It's a happy place to be.
Cousins to the all-American pecan pie and British treacle tarts of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Harry Potter fame, pioneer-invented butter tarts are truly and proudly Canadian.
The earliest published butter tart recipe dates back to 1900 from Barrie, Ontario in The Women's Auxiliary of the Royal Victoria Hospital Cookbook. The filling recipe I used is said to be the Top Secret, renowned recipe from Wilkie's Bakery in Orillia, Ontario passed down through generations of Wilkies and having won National competitions as The Best Butter Tarts in Canada.
It's likely that I may not have really found great-grandmother Wilkie's treasured, award-winning recipe. But, right here, right now, I come brandishing the only butter tart recipe I will ever use. Man are they good!
Thanks Lennie for posting Award-Winning Butter Tarts on Food.com. And, just in case, 'cuz you know, just maybe.......big, big thank-yous to Great Grandma Wilkie.
"Seize the moment. Remember all those women
on the 'Titanic' who waved off the dessert cart."
~ Erma Bombeck
BUTTER TARTS - Makes 24
Flaky Tart (or pie) Pastry
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup cold lard, cubed
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons ice water
1 tablespoon vinegar
Butter Tart Filling
3/4 cup raisins (a mixture of raisins and currants would be wonderful too)
7 tablespoons soft butter
Generous 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
Pinch of Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup corn syrup
1 1/2 large eggs, lightly beaten (Weird, but you must!! Beat 2 eggs in measuring cup, then use 3/4's of the beaten eggs)
1 teaspoon good vanilla or 1 tablespoon dark or amber rum (rum & butter tarts.....mmm!)
For Pastry: In medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt and sugar until evenly combined. Using pastry blender, or your hands, work in lard until mixture resembles fairly fine crumbs, with a few larger pieces. Add ice water and vinegar and stir like crazy with a fork until dough clumps together.
Divide in half. Press into disk on floured surface. Roll out the dough, evenly, turning and flouring to keep from sticking, if nessary. Cut into 12, 3/4 - 4 inch rounds. Gently place the rounds into a 12-cup tart (or muffin) tin, coaxing dough, tenderly, into perfect little tart shells. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Chill until ready to fill. (You may have a bit of left-over dough. If you do, make jam turnovers. That's what my mama always did.)
For Filling: In a small bowl, place raisins and cover with hot tap water; let stand for 30 minutes. In a medium bowl, using a wooden spoon, mix together soft butter, brown sugar, salt and corn syrup. Stir, stir, stir until creamy smooth and well incorporated.
Add beaten egg and vanilla or rum. Mix well. Drain raisins. Retrieve tart shells and divide raisins equally into all shells; then divide butter mixture into all tarts, filling each about 3/4 full.
Bake at 400F for 15-20 minutes; filling will be lightly browned and bubbly.
Us Canadians fall into three camps when it comes to butter tarts and are passionately loyal about our favorite type: runny, gooey, or firm.
No surprise, I'm a gooey girl from way back......so when you bite into one, your eyes close and you immediately understand sweet, gooey seduction. I baked my tarts 17-18 minutes.
If you like dribbley goodness, bake tarts 15 minutes. If 'firm' does it for you, bake tarts the full 20 minutes, or maybe baby even a couple more minutes, if needed.