Butter tart. The name alone is mouth watering. How can you go wrong with a pastry whose name begins with butter?
Those were the thoughts that ran through my head the first time I ever heard of butter tarts, while visiting my dad and his soon to be wife in Calgary. We were at a market and the butter tarts were piled at a stall way at the back. An unfortunate location because I was already uncomfortably full by the time I reached them. Monty Python “just one little mint” style I had a small bite that confirmed their deliciousness, and I shoved the rest of the package in my backpack to share with my family back home.
Sacrilege! The butter tarts got crushed beyond recognition during the flight home, but we licked the crumbs out of the bag, tiny treasure morsels discovered at a far away market surrounded by snow capped mountains. Ever since those ruined butter tarts, I make a point to sample butter tarts early and often when I travel to Canada to see my dad. Treats just taste better when you travel: that slice of burning hot pizza with the wafer thin crust in New York, the butter of the Paris croissant that dissolves on your tongue, and Canadian butter tarts.
If you’ve never sampled a butter tart during a trip to the land of Saskatoon Berries and Poutine, let me describe them for you. Imagine the sweet caramel flavor of the filling of a pecan pie combined with the explosive fruitiness of hidden raisins. Tuck all of that into a buttery crust and serve it in cute, mini pie size. That is the joy of a butter tart, where butter plays an important role but is supported by equally delicious raisins and brown sugar.
This is a pastry that was meant to be added to your repertoire.
- 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ tsp salt
- ⅛ tsp baking powder
- 8 tbsps (1 stick) of butter
- 2 to 3 tbsps cold water
- ½ cup of raisins
- ¼ cups of unsalted butter (4 tbsps)
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup of dark corn syrup
- generous pinch of salt
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla
- First make the pie dough.
- Combine the flour, salt and baking powder in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse 2 or 3 times quickly to mix.
- Cut the butter into 1 tbsp pieces and add to food processor. Pulse over and over again very quickly until the mixture looks like coarse cornmeal. You should not be able to see any more large pieces of butter.
- Scatter 1 tablespoon of tap water on the butter and flour mixture and pulse 5 to 6 times. The dough should begin to hold together. If the mixture still appears dry and crumbly, add more water, 1 teaspoon at a time.
- Remove the dough from the food processor. In your hands, roll it into a uniform ball. Place it on a piece of plastic wrap. Press it down into a 6-inch disk and cover with another piece of plastic wrap.
- Refrigerate the dough until firm, or until you are ready to use it, at least 1 hour.
- When ready to bake the butter tarts, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a mini pie tin. I like to use a fluted pie tin that has pretty little ridges and has 12 mini pies. You could just as easily use a cupcake tray.
- Roll out the pie crust and using a glass, cut circle of dough. Lay them carefully into the greased mini pie tins so the crust reaches the top. Fix any holes and place in the oven for 15 minutes, until the crust is baked and just beginning to darken.
- Now move on the filling. Turn the oven up to 400 degrees fahrenheit.
- Cream the butter and sugar together.
- Add the egg and vanilla and dark corn syrup.
- Sift together the flour and salt. Gently mix it into the butter mixture. Finally fold in the raisins and mix again with a wooden spoon.
- Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and hot and the crust is golden brown.
- You can serve these warm with ice cream or cold. They also freeze well. Let them cool thoroughly before trying to remove them from the tin. You may get a few broken pieces but they'll taste just as good.