Canadian Butter Tarts





Introduction: Canadian Butter Tarts

Canadians will recognize these bite-sized tarts, as the sweet, buttery flavor combined with the perfect flaky crust is their own melt-in-your-mouth invention.

Step 1: Pate Brisee

For this recipe, we need one 9" crust and will use a 4" circle-shaped cookie cutter to get the needed 12 tart shells.  To get a flaky crust, the key is COLD. I refrigerate all of my ingredients, including the flour, salt, and sugar--especially the butter and water need to be COLD.  It is also key to work quickly to keep your dough from warming.

(I should mention that many of these pictures for the crust dough are reused from another of my instructables, Night Sky Blueberry Pie, as the ingredients and steps are all the same except doubled.  Even when only one 9" crust is needed, I still used the doubled amount, so I have another crust on standby in the refrigerator or freezer.)


1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. granulated white sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
1/8 - 1/4 cup ice water

Combine flour, sugar and salt in a food processor (or bowl, if that is what you have to work with). Add butter and pulse to combine until resembles course crumbs, about 10 to 15 seconds (if using bowl, cut the butter in with a pastry blender). Add ice water in a steady stream, starting with just 1/4 cup. Process just until the dough pinches together (crumbs about the size of peas now). If necessary add a little more water until you get to this state. You should not need more than 1/2 cup nor require longer than 30 seconds processing.

Shape the dough into a flattened disc, wrap into plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. (The dough can be frozen for up to a month; thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.

Take the disc and roll it out onto your floured work surface until about 12" in diameter. Roll from the center out and rotate your crust quarter turns occasionally to avoid sticking. Using a 4" circle-shaped cookie cutter, cut out 12 pieces of dough and transfer each to a muffin pan.  You can re-roll out your scrap dough if you are short, but avoid it if you can, as over-worked dough results in toughness.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Step 2: The Butter Filling


1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup golden syrup OR light corn syrup OR maple syrup OR packed light brown sugar again (this latter choice will make the tart filling less runny--a characteristic desired by some and not by others)
2 eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. heavy whipping cream

Optional:  1/2 cup raisins OR pecans, toasted and chopped OR walnuts, toasted and chopped (I nixed these options because of picky eaters.)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you are using raisins and want a runny filling, plump the raisins by submerging them in a bowl of very hot tap water for 10 - 15 minutes.  Drain before adding.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cream all brown sugar and butter.  In a separate medium-sized mixing bowl, add the syrup and place in a hot water bath by putting the bowl inside a larger bowl with a shallow pool of hot tap water.  In this same bowl with the syrup, whisk the eggs and vanilla extract, and then stir in the cream.  Add the liquid mixture to the creamed butter and brown sugar and stir to combine.  Stir in raisins or nuts.

Remove the crust-lined muffin pan from the refrigerator and spoon in about 2/3 - 3/4 full with the filling.  Bake in the oven for 15 - 20 minutes.  Center should be inflated (will deflate once cooled) and edges bubbly.

Serve warm or cool, and enjoy!



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    17 Discussions

    I just tried these after shoe horning the measurements into the metric system (I live in Sweden). Since I have no connection what so ever to Canada or the nations buttery tarts I can't really judge if I succeeded or not. However both my wife and I loved them!

    1 reply

    Funny thing is Canada has been using the metric system since the 1870s in hospitals and the scientific community. We used it in Chemistry, Physics and Biology classes too. In the 1970s it took off and by 1980 it was "mandatory", however, Canadians (in my locale) still talk about cups (250 ml) and teaspoons (5ml)... when referring to our recipes! My grandmother used scales to measure flour by weight... I think the whole world uses Metric and that Canada was one of the last holdouts. The United States, of course, is the one exception except in their medical and scientific communities.

    It doesn't seem right without the currants. My mother always put in dried currants.

    I didn't realize that butter tarts were specifically Canadian. What about the other thngs my mother used to make? Is lasagna Canadian? What about fried zucchini blossoms?

    1 reply

    Me too! My great grandmother's recipe which was on a very ancient recipe card when I was a child in the 1950s used currants too. and so did my Mum's old recipe book. Gt. Gr. ma was born in Ontario in 1881 and came to BC in 1907 and got the recipe from her Mum who died in 1927. Gt. Gr. ma said she tried to make them healthier (and she'd laugh) by adding half the amount of walnuts as currants. The first time I ever heard of raisins being used was in a Purity (I think) cookbook in the 1970s.

    I have made these a few times, everyone likes them! I have to make my own since I just can't pick them up at a grocery store like we could back home in Canada.
    This recipe is great : )

    Yup, I'm a Canadian who knows and loves butter tarts. Might I suggest a few chocolate chips as well as or instead of the raisins.

    These are totally Canadian, although I've been seeing them in U.S. stores in the last ten years or so. I also remember them with (and make them with) dried currants. They are yummy!

    I've never heard of these before, thank you so much for sharing this bit of Canadian culture with us! I will have to try making some :)

    I recognize these bite-sized tarts, as the sweet, buttery flavor combined with the perfect flaky crust is mine own melt-in-your-mouth invention.


    I love these things! Especially without the raisins. Thanks!

    Canadian here, Born and raised in Manitoba. These are a Mennonite staple desert food. I have no clue where they originated, however they've been a part of family gatherings for as long as I can remember. Usually containing raisins throughout the filling with three in the center as a garnish for each.

    I personally don't like them, however my fiance loves them thoroughly!! Thnx for bringing a little of my home to the masses!

    EVERYONE MUST TRY THESE ONCE, SOME LIKE THEM, SOME DON'T.... but they are really buttery, with a sweetness to it if anyone is wondering.

    Yum, I think they're best without any filling, I often see them with currents which I can't stand.

    OMG!! I am a canuck by birth that moved down south for work. When I came across just pecan pies (which are wonderful btw) and asked locals where I can find pecan pies without the pecans....... I was looked at like I sprouted a third eye - Nice to stumble across a well-written recipe for a long-loved treat!

    1 reply

    Oops! I was looking for a "Like" button for your comment. Wrong page, right yummy comment!

    Anyone from Québec would recall the edgy teeth feeling on biting into a sugar pie. It is essentially the same as a butter tart but using maple sugar.

    Never had nor heard of these treats, but they sure do look delicious!! As soon as I get a chance to make these, will let you know.

    Thanks for another great 'ible!!

    1 reply