12 February 2010

Amazing Butter Tarts for the Culinary Olympics

Butter Tarts

After years of anticipation today is the day!!!!  For the past few months here in Canada we have felt the momentum and enthusiasm grow as the Olympic Torch wound it's way throughout Canada travelling 45,000 km and visiting over 1,000 cities. The torch has reached it's final destination in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada today!!!!!!! Tonight will be the opening ceremonies. Vancouver is hosting  the 2010 Winter Olympic Games from February 12th – 28th. Canadians across the country are not only sharing in the pride of being the host country but looking forward to seeing all of your countries around the world participating in winter sports. We'll all be cheering on our athletes who have trained so vigorously and are set to represent their respective countries. Let the games begin!!!!!!!

In many ways BloggerAid-Changing the Face of Famine (BA-CFF) members are also athletes even if we’re not putting on skiis or hockey skates. Our sport is FOOD!!! Now that's my kind of sport...and jumps ahead of hockey, cross country skiing and skating!!! At BA-CFF we represent over 60 international countries who have created and developed a communication and friendship that has brought our world a little closer together with a mission to raise awareness. What better way to come together than to create a Culinary Olympics where we can share our national dishes with pride!!!! Visit the BloggerAid-CFF Culinary Olympics for how you can participate. We would love to see what you come up with to represent your country!!!!You have untl February 28th to participate:D

I will be sharing a few Canadian dishes with you in the next few weeks...but what really says Canada to me and transends all provinces and territories to become our national dish? There has always been controversy about whether Canada has a cuisine of its own, or even a national dish. If it comes down to recipes, yes, we do have recipes people recognize as truly Canadian. Apple pie, for example - but the US and Great Britian enjoy it too. There's chowder - in the Maritimes - and in France. Canadians love tea biscuits, but so do the Scots who call them scones. In fact, many of our dishes right up to the latest Vietnamese pho or Tamil fish curry are shared. That is, all except the butter tart....

Butter tarts were a staple of pioneer Canadian cooking, and they remain a characteristic pastry of Canada. They are one of just a handful of genuinely Canadian recipes. The tart's history has been traced back to the arrival of the filles de marier in the mid-1600s. To fill their tartes, these imported brides from France had to make do with what they found in their new larders... maple syrup or sugar, farm-fresh butter and dried fruit (read raisins).

Butter Tarts with their sweet, gooey filling cradled in rustic home-made pastry manages to seduce everyone who bites into their scrumptious shell. In my opinion they should still be a little bit runny with a little crunch on the top. I'll debate that the ideal tart has a fairly thick, shortbread-like shell. It tastes rich, but not greasy. It's crumbly, but doesn't fall apart at first bite. The filling has a buttery essence and a hint of maple for that Canadian flair. It's soft but not sloppy, sweet but not cloying. It's covered by a slight crust that gives way as your teeth invade. If there's a classic Canadian dessert, the butter tart is it!!!!!

 The great divide amongst Canadian butter tart fans is what makes the perfect butter tart?  Friendly debates arise over everything from pastry texture and whether you should use butter or lard; to whether you should use white of brown sugar; to whether their should there be vinegar or a splash of lemon or none at all; to whether the filling should be runny or not (and if so, how runny?). Purists will also tell you that they contain only raisins and if you add nuts then it can no longer be classed as a butter tart. I say let your imagination be your guide and try them all different ways. I don't think the butter tart police will arrive at your door. I would drive hundreds of miles for this sweet confection in search of what I consider perfection or in any form at all. Sir John A. MacDonald, our first Prime Minister, is said to have eaten them by the handful so I am in good company!!!

But no matter what recipe you prefer, get ready to indulge!!! In Canada we believe that biting into a butter tart is nothing short of a patriotic act so what better treat to share with you for the BloggerAid-CFF Culinary Olympics. This particular recipe is based on one from culinary activist Anita Stewart from her cookbook, Anita Stewart’s Canada (HarperCollins Canada) which celebrates Canada from coast to coast through food, recipes and stories. One of the most celebrated foods in Canada has to be butter tarts!!!! According to Stewart, “Since the turn of the last century, recipes abound for it in almost every Canadian cookbook, but you won’t find a reference for this noble tart in the Oxford Companion to Food or in the American reference book Food Lover’s Companion. Friend and historian Mary Williamson is an expert on butter tarts. She notes the earliest reference was in a cookbook compiled by The Women’s Auxiliary of the Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie in 1900 and it’s merely named ‘A filling for tarts.’ For farm women, two essential ingredients, eggs and butter, were in abundance. And Canada, when these tarts were invented, was a farming country.”

 These butter tarts were hands-down, one of the best butter tarts I've ever eaten. I must admit to never meeting a butter tart I didn't like though!!!! The original recipe is from Peggy Morris who grew up in Peel Township in Southwestern Ontario but I tweaked on perfection just a little. The filling is obviously tasty, as is pretty much every butter tart filling that I've ever tried. But what truly makes these tarts AMAZING is the crust. The shells baked up incredibly light and flaky (comparable to a croissant), and the addition of sugar made them much tastier than other butter tarts that I've tried. Not to mention that they were easy to make. Still, as with any pastry, make sure that you don't over handle the dough, and that your water and butter are COLD. This really does make all the difference in the world.

Eat a butter tart today.  It’s the Canadian thing to do!!!!!

Also a reminder that the highly successful  BloggerAid Cookbook is now on sale. All proceeds go directly to the School Meals Program a division of the World Food Programme and the United Nations. Purchase your copy today and help kids around the world have access to an education and nutritious meals every day.

**Amazing Butter Tarts**

 1 cup (250 mL) raisins
 2 eggs
 1/3 cup (75 mL) corn syrup or maple syrup
 1 cup (250 mL) packed brown sugar
 3 tablespoons (45 mL) melted butter
 1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped walnuts
18 Sweet Tart Pastry shells

In a small bowl, cover raisins with boiling water. Let soak for 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, corn syrup or maple syrup, brown sugar, butter and nuts. Stir in raisins. Pour evenly into prepared tart shells. Bake in preheated 450°F (220°C) oven 5 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F (180°C) and open door slightly for 15 to 20 seconds to bring temperature down rapidly. Bake for 15 minutes or until bubbling and deep golden brown. Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes before removing from the pan.

NOTE: If you want them gooey bake them for only 15 minutes total.

Sweet Tart Pastry

 2½ cups (625 ml) sifted cake-and-pastry flour
 ¼ cup (60 ml) granulated sugar
 ½ teaspoon (2 ml) salt
1 cup (250 ml) chilled unsalted butter
¾ cup (175 ml) ice water

In a bowl, sift together flour, sugar and salt. With a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. With a fork, stir in ice water, ¼ cup (60 mL) at a time, until the dough can be gathered up into a ball. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Flour a rolling pin and the top of the dough. Divide dough in half.

Roll out one piece of dough, dusting with flour as needed, to about 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick. Using a cookie cutter, cut into approximately 4-inch (10 cm) circles and press gently into muffin or large tart pans. Repeat with remaining dough.

Makes 18 tarts

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison. Best Blogger Tips


  1. Well, these sound delicious, I say! And they look gorgeous too, fine representation!

  2. Thank you so much for introducing me to this historical dish! I'm so excited to learn about Canadian butter tarts! They sound SO heavenly...

  3. I bet those taste divine!



  4. A friend from Canada was lamenting not being able to indulge in butter tarts here in Carolina. I will be surprising her with these on her next visit! Thank you so much
    xoxo Pattie

  5. I ate my fair share of butter tarts when I was in BC several years ago and I can attest that they are truly delicious!

    You must be so excited and proud about the upcoming Olympic games! I'm looking forward to watching the festivities tonight!

  6. My kids are so excited for the Olympics to start!

  7. I imagine these taste a bit like our treacle tart here in the UK - which actually has no treacle in it! Look delish

  8. Such golden-rich beauties!

    Can't wait for the Olympics to start. The cold games have always been a favorite of mine. Well done, Canada!

  9. Val, those little butter tarts are gorgeous. I'm looking forward to the Olympics. And I'm also looking forward to more Canadian dishes.

    Happy Valentine's day.

  10. Love to see the Olympics all over because I love the games!

  11. MMm. Now those are celebration tarts, if I ever saw them. They're making me all drooley! Enjoy the opening ceremony! We'll be watching too... and waiting for all that yummy Canuck cooking!

  12. Butter tarts take me right back to the farm! Thanks for posting. I always love to see how others make them. Check my blog for a 'gift'!

  13. Love the red mits! I will be eating a butter tart later this day!

  14. Yeah yeah yeah - buttertarts smuttertarts. Those mittins are AWESOME!

  15. I'm reading blogs while I'm watching the Olympics opening ceremony build-up. I must say I now understand why you are so proud of Canada and Vancouver in particular. It's really gorgeous. It must be very exciting up there these days. Enjoy! P.S. The tarts look like a nice treat for watching the games.

  16. This was the perfect dessert to make for this. Well done Val.

  17. The tarts sound and look amazing!!

  18. I just saw the olympics opening, and I can understand your excitement. What better than those beautiful tarts to celebrate?

  19. Yum! I haven't had a butter tart in forever.

  20. all of those little twists and turns to the basic recipe sound pretty good, but i really like what you've done--anything purely maple syrup, brown sugar goo, and walnuts will satisfy me any day. :)

  21. Oh, how I love butter tarts! These are mouth-watering! I'm so excited to see my hometown highlighted for the next two weeks.

  22. Vancouver did Canada proud last night and I propose butter tarts for all!

  23. I love your presentation too!

  24. Yes, it was exciting for me to watch the opening ceremonies. I LOVE Vancouver.... truly do! I have never heard of these tarts, but they sound way too good to pass up. I'm bookmarking these, and absolutely positively want to make these. If I ever get them on my blog, you can bet you get a big shout for turning me on to these. Wow! I'd love to nibble on some right now.

  25. You have me wanting to jump right now and make some of these. thankfully it's 11:30 pm so I will make do with sweet dreams for now..Love the history as well.

  26. A reader asks, :Why unsalted butter?"
    Most often I personally use salted butter.

    If you buy unsalted butter you are better able to control the amount of salt in your cooking and eating. In some recipes this is important where you are using delicate flavours such as vanilla, citrus and herbs. The quantity of salt in salted butter varies somewhat from brand to brand, so it can be a little challenging to know exactly how much salt you should leave out of a recipe. If you assume your salted butter has three-quarters of a teaspoon to a whole teaspoon of salt per half cup, you'll be erring on the side of caution in decreasing the quantity of salt you add to your recipe. You'll want to taste whatever you're making along the way to determine whether you have enough salt for adequate flavoring. Salted butter can be refrigerated for up to a month; unsalted for up to two weeks. Both can be frozen for up to six months. Just be sure to wrap butter airtight to keep it from picking up other flavours.

    Here is an article on baking with butter verses margarine, etc.


    Warmest Wishes,


  27. Well, butter tarts and Nanaimo Bars... hmmm... I am getting a list on my site since conception of original Canadian Food... and this is what I am listing...this kind of food - what grew from Canadian kitchens after emigrating here. Then, I think about the First Nation foods... they are no longer traditional... and have never been - only to each tribe...yet. smoked salmon, candied salmon - and many of their traditional foods have become part of the fabric of our Canadian Cuisine. But mostly, I think of multi-culturalism. We Are The World. I made Latvian Bacon buns and a woman I was close to when I was 16 taught me how this year and she is 94. I have never forgotten those buns, and now, they are mine.
    I could enter a wild rice recipe... or Saskatoon Pie... that is really the best - but, I cannot forget that everything in my kitchen is connects to someone else in another country... and that is what I love about Canada.

  28. The thrill in the air in Canada with great pride in hosting the Olympics is clearly evident everywhere. Thanks for providing yummy food ideas for this observer in the US.


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