February 17, 2015 10:17 am
Updated: February 17, 2015 10:29 am

What’s the best homemade butter tart? Try these recipes

There's no mistaking the homemade appearance of these tarts from the Kenilworth Country Kitchen, on the Wellington North Butter Tart Trail between Arthur and Mount Forest, Ont. The restaurant makes tarts with and without raisins and nuts to suit all preferences and also has several other butter tart-flavoured dishes.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Trish Beesley
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Whether you like nuts or raisins or thin or thick crust in butter tarts, you’re bound to find a version in this selection of recipes to try making at home.

HOMEMADE BUTTER TARTS

This recipe, from Lisa Dixon who owns Blackhoney Coffee House and Bakery in Peterborough, Ont., makes a runny tart with a “strong but butter-rich pastry.” The pastry, which should be made the day before, is also good for quiche or berry pies.

Tart Shells

  • 1.375 l (5 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 2 ml (1/2 tsp) salt
  • 250 g (1/2 lb) butter, unsalted, cold and cubed
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) cold water

Filling

  • 50 ml (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) brown sugar
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 ml (1/4 tsp) salt
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) golden syrup
  • 50 ml (1/4 cup) maple syrup
  • 2 ml (1/2 tsp) vanilla
  • 2 ml (1/2 tsp) cider vinegar

Tart Shells: In a large bowl, place flour and salt. Add cubed butter and rub into flour with fingers. The mixture should look like oatmeal, with butter-like slivers or pebbles. Make a well in flour. Add cold water. (Keep it cold in fridge until ready to use.) Use hands to mix until a ball appears. Wrap ball in plastic wrap, flatten into a disc and chill overnight in refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F).

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Roll out chilled dough onto floured surface. Cut out discs of pastry about the size of a store-bought sour cream or yogurt container top. Press into muffin or tart tin wells carefully so as not to tear pastry.

If possible, weigh shells down with dried beans or some other type of weight so the empty shells will keep their shape. Bake shells for 10 to 15 minutes until they’re starting to brown but not totally brown. Remove from oven and remove weights.

Meanwhile, make filling. Melt butter with brown sugar. Do not allow to boil. Whisk egg and set aside. Add salt, golden syrup, maple syrup, vinegar and vanilla to warm butter mixture. Whisk gently until smooth. Whisk in egg.

When tart shells are baked (and still warm), fill about two-thirds with filling mix. Bake for 12 minutes or until filling is mostly cooked but still a little jiggly.

Makes about 2 dozen tarts.

Source: Lisa Dixon, Blackhoney Coffee House and Bakery, Peterborough, Ont.

MARGARET ARNOLD’S BUTTER TARTS

Margaret Arnold, 91, has been baking tarts for decades from a recipe she developed with a filling she says is not cloyingly sweet. The eggs give her tarts a firm consistency, and because there is no syrup in them the tarts don’t boil over, she says.

  • 6 eggs
  • 750 ml (3 cups) brown sugar
  • 175 ml (3/4 cup) melted margarine or butter
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) vanilla
  • 18 large uncooked tart shells (diameter of 10 cm/4 inches)

Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F).

Beat eggs. Add brown sugar and beat, then add melted margarine and vanilla and beat all together.

In a microwave-safe container (something with a pouring spout is best), place filling ingredients. Microwave on high for about 3 minutes. Pour into tart shells.

Bake for 10 minutes. Turn pans and leave for another 5 minutes. Shake pan slightly; if filling is jiggly, leave in oven for another minute.

Makes about 18 tarts.

Source: Margaret Arnold, Maple Valley, Ont.

BEST BUTTER TARTS

Toronto food journalist Marion Kane says this recipe “produces the best homemade butter tart I’ve tried: flaky, melt-in-the mouth pastry with a gooey but not too runny filling.” The pastry can be made in a food processor.

Pastry

  • 375 ml (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • Pinch salt
  • 50 ml (1/4 cup) cold butter, cubed
  • 50 ml (1/4 cup) cold lard or vegetable shortening, cubed
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) white vinegar
  • 50 ml (1/4 cup) ice-cold water

Filling

  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) packed dark brown sugar
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) maple syrup or golden corn syrup
  • 1 large egg
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) vanilla
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) white vinegar or lemon juice
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) softened butter
  • Pinch salt
  • 50 to 125 ml (1/4 to 1/2 cup) raisins or coarsely chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)

Preheat oven to 190 C (375 F).

Pastry: In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Using wire pastry cutter or two knives, cut in butter and lard until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Using fork, stir in yolk, vinegar and water until dough holds together. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Filling: In a medium bowl, vigorously whisk together all ingredients except raisins until combined. (This can be done in food processor.)

Roll out dough on lightly floured surface, being careful that it is not too thin. Using a 10-cm (4-inch) round cookie cutter or empty 796-ml (28-oz) juice can, cut into 12 rounds to fit 7.5-cm (3-inch) cups of muffin tin. Divide raisins among each pastry shell; spoon filling over raisins.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until pastry is golden brown. Let cool in pan for about 2 minutes. Run knife or small metal spatula around edge of each tart; transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 12 butter tarts.

Source: Marion Kane, food journalist (www.marionkane.com).

BUTTER TART MUFFINS

There are lots of ways to get a taste of butter tarts without consuming the real thing. These butter tart-flavoured muffins are one option.

  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) butter, cut into chunks
  • 375 ml (1 1/2 cups) raisins
  • 175 ml (3/4 cup) white sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) milk
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) vanilla
  • 375 ml (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 10 ml (2 tsp) baking powder
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) baking soda
  • Pinch salt
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 175 ml (3/4 cup) maple syrup

In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, place butter, raisins, sugar, eggs, milk and vanilla. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until mixture is hot, slightly thickened and just beginning to bubble, 4 to 5 minutes. Let cool slightly, uncovered, in refrigerator, while continuing with recipe.

Preheat oven to 190 C (375 F). Grease 12 muffin cups or coat with cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, stir flour in with baking powder, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the centre and pour in warm raisin mixture, stirring until combined. Stir in nuts until evenly mixed.

Spoon batter into muffin cups. Bake in centre of oven until golden and a cake tester inserted into centre of muffins comes out clean, 15 to 17 minutes.

Remove from oven and immediately pour 15 ml (1 tbsp) maple syrup over top of each muffin.

Let cool in pan for 5 to 10 minutes, then turn out onto rack.

Makes 12 muffins.

Source: “Georgian Bay General Hospital Volunteer Association Cookbook”; provided by Barbara Rowlandson of Ontario’s Best Butter Tart Festival.

© 2015 The Canadian Press

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