Canadian Butter Tarts

I think I’ve lived in Canada long enough to get an idea what is considered to be a truly Canadian dessert. I won’t be exploring this subject now. It’s all covered here, if you are interested. There are no doubts regarding the butter tarts heritage. But I chose them as my entry for Sugar High Friday-Mmm…Canada not because they are qualified by their origin. I picked them because they are delicious.

The recipe below is my version of the traditional butter tarts. Don’t get me wrong, not that they are needed any improvements (they are good as they are), I made some changes to suit my own taste preferences. And you will see they’ve become even more Canadian after these adjustments. I added maple syrup to the filling and soaked the raisins in Canadian Whisky. Another thing I changed was the crust. I replaced the pie dough crust with the buttery tart crust. And since I love my crust “well-done”, nicely browned and flavorful, I prebaked the crusts before filling them. I hope I’m not going to be blamed for ruining the authentic character of those. They’ve turned out better than store-bought variety.

Makes 6 3-inch tarts and plenty of cookies from the leftover dough

For the crust:

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 stick plus 1 tbsp (9 tbsp) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces and frozen for 20 minutes.
  • 2 large egg yolks

For the filling:

  • ½ cup dark, unsulphured raisins
  • ¼ cup whisky
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup corn syrup
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp vinegar
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Prepare the crust:

Sift the flour, icing sugar and salt, put them in a food processor. Scatter the pieces of butter over the flour mixture and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in. Stir the egg yolks and add them a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the yolks are in, process in long pulses until the dough forms clumps. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead very lightly just to incorporate any dry ingredients that have escaped mixing. Refrigerate the dough for 1 hour.

Butter 6 3-inch tart pans with removable bottom. On lightly floured surface or on parchment paper, roll the dough into 1/8-inch thickness. Cut the dough into circles a couple inches larger than the tart pans. Carefully transfer the rolled dough into the prepared pans and press the dough onto the bottoms and up the sides of the pans. Cut the excess of the dough. Dock the bottoms of the crusts with a fork and freeze for at least 30 minutes. If you are not planning to bake right away, wrap the crusts tightly and keep in the freezer until needed. Do not defrost before baking!

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter the shiny side of foil and fit it, buttered side down, tightly against the crusts. Fill with dry beans or pie weights and bake for about 15 minutes, until set. Carefully remove the foil and bake the crusts for another 8-10 minutes until light golden. Transfer the crusts in its pans to a cooling rack and cool to room temperature. Maintain the oven temperature.

Make the filling, bake the tarts:

A day before baking, put the raisins in a small saucepan, cover with water and bring just to a boiling point. Drain the raisins, place them in a small bowl, add the whisky, cover and refrigerate overnight. When ready to bake, drain and pat dry the raisins. Divide them among the prebaked tart crusts.

In a small bowl, using a wooden spoon, mix the butter and sugar together until combined. Add the remaining ingredients and mix to incorporate. Don’t whip the mixture, just stir. Divide the filling between the tart shells and bake at 350F on the center rack for about 18-20 minutes, until the filling is puffed and bubbly, and golden brown.

Cool the tarts on the rack for 5 minutes, then unmold. Cool completely on the rack.

If desired, before serving, top each tart with a cookie baked from the leftover dough.

Maple Syrup Butter Tart Diptych