Old Fashioned Butter Tarts, the best homemade Butter Tart Recipe and definitely better than store bought! A delicious Canadian tradition that can’t be missed. Syrupy and sweet exactly how they should be.
What are Canadian Butter tarts?
It is believed that between 1663 and 1673 approximately 800 young women were sent to Québec from France to help colonize. They brought with them their traditional European recipes but of course they had to adapt to making them with the ingredients available.
The sugar pie, was made with a filling of flour, butter, salt, vanilla, and cream, it is considered the forerunner to the butter tart.
Although the butter tart as we know it now was common in Canadian pioneer cooking. The earliest published recipe dates back to 1900 in the Women’s Auxiliary of the Royal Victoria Hospital Cookbook, which was written in Barrie Ontario.
- Pastry dough
- Butter – melted and cooled
- Brown sugar – light brown
- Syrup – corn syrup is the traditional syrup but you could substitute with maple syrup
- Vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup raisins or currants
- Boiling water
- 1/4 mini chocolate chips – semi sweet or milk chocolate or a combination
Pecan (Nut) Filling
- 1/3 cup Pecans – coarsely chopped, you could substitute with hazelnuts or even walnuts
Why soak raisins in water?
Because raisins are very dry, if they aren’t soaked then they will absorb the liquid from your baked goods, making the dessert less moist. That’s why it is imperative to soak them first, or any dried fruit for that matter.
They don’t have to soak in water, you can soak them in a fruit juice such as pineapple juice or even rum or brandy.
I have made these tarts a few times this past couple of weeks, and we made them again when my cousin came to visit. This time we made a few different types. Pecan, Chocolate Chip and Plain Butter Tarts. It was hard to decide which was our favorite!
How to make Butter Tarts
Prepare either the Simple Pie Dough or Brown Sugar Pie Dough. Or you can use prepared store bought tarts. If you use homemade pastry, the dough will have to be wrapped in plastic wrap and chilled for approximately 60 minutes.
Pre-heat oven to 400°F. Grease and flour a 12 size medium muffin pan.
Remove the pastry from the fridge, roll out on a lightly floured surface to 1/8″ thick, cut out with a round cookie cutter. Gently form the circles into the muffin tin. Use a small lightly floured shot glass to gently form the rounds into the tin.
If using raisins, place them in a medium bowl and cover with boiling water, let sit 10-15 minutes then drain well. Immediately add hot raisins to butter mixture and stir until butter has melted.
Add the lightly beaten egg and vanilla, brown sugar, salt and corn syrup, stir to combine, do not over mix.
If not using the raisins then melt the butter, let cool slightly, then add the lightly beaten egg, vanilla, brown sugar, salt and corn syrup, stir to combine do not over mix. At this point you can either stir in the chopped pecans, chocolate chips or leave the filling plain.
Pour the filling into the prepared tart shells and bake for 15 minutes at 400°F, reduce heat to 350°F and continue baking for approximately 10 – 15 minutes (until they start to brown). Once they are cool enough to touch move to a wire rack to cool completely before serving.
The best Pastry Dough for Butter Tarts
Butter tarts are best made with a flaky pie crust therefore I like to use either a Simple Pie Dough or a Brown Sugar Pie Dough, either work perfectly.
How to Store Butter Tarts
Butter Tarts should be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated, they will keep for up to five days in the fridge. If you keep them at room temperature remember they will only keep for about a day or 2 depending on how warm your home is.
Can Butter Tarts be Frozen?
Yes they can be frozen, be sure to freeze in an airtight freezer container. Properly stored they will keep for up to two months. You could also make the dough in advance and freeze it, the dough will last for up to 3 months in the freezer.
These Old Fashioned Butter Tarts are the perfect sweet treat that you could be looking for. If you try them let me know. Enjoy!
Pie Tarts & Pie recipes
Old Fashioned Butter Tarts
- 1 Pie Pastry Recipe or 12 pre-made tart shells
BUTTER TART FILLING
PLAIN FILLING (without add ins)
- 1/4 cup butter (melted / cooled)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar (lightly packed)
- 1/2 cup corn syrup*
- pinch of salt
- 1 large egg (lightly beaten)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
*You can substitute with Maple syrup but start with a ⅓ cup since it is thinner than corn syrup.
RAISIN FILLING (add in)
- 3/4 cup raisins
- boiling water
CHOCOLATE CHIP FILLING (add in)
- 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
PECAN FILLING (add in)
- 1/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans (or walnuts)
- Prepare either the Simple Pie Dough or Brown Sugar Pie Dough. Or you can use prepared store bought tarts.
- Remove the pastry from the fridge, roll out on a lightly floured surface to 1/8″ thick, cut out with a round cookie cutter. Gently form the circles into the muffin tin. Use a small lightly floured shot glass to gently form the rounds into the tin.
- Pre-heat oven to 400F (200C). Grease and flour a 12 size medium muffin tin.
BUTTER TART FILLING
- If using raisins, place them in a medium bowl and cover with boiling water, let sit 10-15 minutes then drain well. Immediately add the hot raisins to the butter mixture and stir until butter has melted. Then add the lightly beaten egg, vanilla, brown sugar, salt and corn syrup, stir to combine, do not over mix.
- If not using the raisins then melt the butter, let cool slightly, add the lightly beaten egg, vanilla, brown sugar, salt and corn syrup, stir to combine do not over mix. At this point you can either stir in the chopped pecans, chocolate chips or leave the filling plain.
- Pour the filling into the prepared tart shells and bake for 15 minutes at 400F (200C), reduce heat to 350F (180C) and continue baking for approximately 10 – 15 minutes (until they start to brown). Once they are cool enough to touch move to a wire rack to cool completely before serving. Enjoy!
Updated from May 3, 2017.
Art W says
This sounds like a great recipe! When this novice baker gets the nerve to try this out, can you tell me what size cookie cutter you used?
Hi Art, I used one that was between 3-4 inches, it all depends too on what size of a muffin tin you use. It really isn’t too difficult, if you have any questions just let me know. Take care!
Thank you for making true Canadian butter tarts! Tarts without raisins are just smaller sugar pies!
Just as I remember then as a kid!
Hi Lynn, thanks so much and I totally agree. Take care!
Followed the recipe exactly added raisins and pecan halves on half. They turned out perfectly. I’ll definitely make them again. Thanks
Hi Perry, thanks so much, great idea with pecan halves. Take care!
I was actually just wondering if I’m supposed to cook the tart shells first or along with the filling
Hi Melissa, no the tarts aren’t baked before, it’s all baked together. Hope you like them. Merry Christmas.
Patricia McMullen says
When I make butter tart I prefer to use currents I find the raisins are too sweet. Also a good trick is to put the currents or raisins in the pastry in the tins ,so you can evenly divide them.
Can I make these in mini tart tins? I have to give out to so many people at Christmas and giving just a couple seems a bit mean! Thank you.
Hi Doreen, yes you can use mini tart tins, bake for a little less time though, I would say about 10-12 minutes. Let me know how it goes.
Made these tonight and OMG.i can’t stop eating them..sooooo good
Hi Sheri, haha that’s how I feel about butter tarts too! Thanks glad you liked them. Take care!
Jim Booth says
I used maple syrup and it turned out perfect
Hi Jim, so glad you liked them and great idea with the maple syrup. Take care.
I have never made a better dough!!! This was perfect and the butter tarts turned out terrific!! Thanks for a great recipe.
Hi Nicole, thanks so much, so glad you liked them. Take care!