Recipe: Butter Tarts

A love me a good butter tart. As a kid, I would get really excited when my mom would bake up a batch, waiting to see if any fell apart as she was taking them out of the pan, because then I could “sample” them. I never realized butter tarts were a “Canadian thing”, but over time in speaking with American acquaintances, I came to realize that indeed, there are no butter tarts in the US (or perhaps there are a few, in hiding, not daring to venture out for fear of being eaten). A quick look at wikipedia confirms this, and points out that “tarte au sucre” and pecan pie are both very similar to butter tarts. And indeed they are. The wikipedia page also points out that each family makes theirs a bit different, and my family is no different: we put a teaspoon of jam in the bottom of the tart before pouring in the filling. I imagine its something my grandma’s mom taught her to do, and maybe it goes all the way back to when their family lived in England. Maybe? Or maybe it’s just a crazy Canadian thing? Perhaps!


So onto the recipe! I loosely followed a recipe out of Canadian LIving, but am going to find the handwritten notecard my mom has and take that recipe down the next time I’m at her home. The dough recipe is from Martha Stewart, and is the recipe I use for all my pie dough needs.

So here’s what I actually used:

Pie dough:

1 1/4 cup of flour
1/3 cup COLD butter
4-5 TBS cold water
Dash of salt


1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup (should be corn syrup, but I have 8 cans of maple syrup in my pantry so . . .)
1 egg
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp vinegar
1 pinch salt
1/4 cup filling (either raisins or chopped nuts or other dried fruit)

To make:

Preheat oven to 450F

Make the dough: cut the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter until it resembles small crumbs. Sprinkle a couple of tablespoonfuls of water into the mixture and mix up. If necessary, add more water until the dough forms. Roll out, and cut using a glass and fit into greased or lined muffin tins and prick bottoms with a fork.

Make the filling: mix together all the filling ingredients except the jam.

Assemble the tarts: place a teaspoonful of jam into the bottom of each tart shell, then fill with the filling mixture, taking care not to overfill.

Bake in oven for about 12 minutes, until pastry is golden.

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