Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Butter Tarts

Piggy is trying to lose a fair amount of weight, so her normally jam-packed holiday baking and candy-making schedule has been severely curtailed this year. But there is one absolutely essential item for Christmas chez Piggy, and since my mother is having a few neighbours over this evening for drinks and treats, I have a perfect excuse for making them in spite of the diet.

And in the spirit of the holiday season, I'm going to share my recipe for butter tarts, Canada's unofficial national pastry.

Piggy's Butter Tarts

Here's what you'll need:

  • 1 cup dark raisins
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup dark brown (demerara) sugar
  • 1 cup light OR dark corn syrup (I never said these things are healthy!)
  • 1/8 tsp salt (or a bit more if you use unsalted butter)
  • two eggs, lightly beaten with a fork
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp white vinegar (apple cider vinegar should work, too)
  • pinch spice (You pick -- I'm keeping my choice a secret!)
  • pastry for about 40 two-inch tarts (Or fewer three-inch ones. Piggy doesn't do pastry, so I use veggie-friendly frozen tart shells; I recommend unsweetened ones, as the filling for these babies is plenty sweet enough.)

Here's what you do:

Put the raisins in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand 10 minutes, then drain and pat them dry.

Cream the butter, sugar, corn syrup and salt by hand. Do not use an electric beater: this will make the filling too frothy and a very messy disaster will inevitably follow. Trust me on this.

Stir in eggs, vanilla, sugar and spice.

Piggy uses a hefty pinch of spice; I added more after this amount was stirred in. Have a wee taste of the filling as you go and stop when it tastes perfect for you. Keep in mind: the taste of spice will be more pronounced after cooking.

Divide raisins between tart shells -- for two-inch tarts, use around 6-8 raisins or so.

Spoon filling (give it a wee stir now and then to make sure everything stays well blended) over raisins -- I put it right up to the top, so all the pastry you see is the ridged edge.

Bake tarts at 200C/400F for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 180C/350F and bake 5-10 minutes longer, or until pastry is golden.

Cool completely before eating.

I realize 40 tarts is quite a lot; but these freeze well. And you can always share them. :-)



  1. Oh, yes, please do share them!

    Merry merry!

  2. Those look delicious! The Man loves butter tarts and I will have to make these for him; thanks for the recipe!!

  3. Happy Holidays! Oh! Butter tarts! I vacationed in Nova Scotia once and found the La Havre Bakery and Butter Tarts. I think I went back every single day I was there. But isn't there an argument about raisins or no raisins? America is definitely poorer for not having these!

  4. Yes, there are all sorts of arguments about butter tarts; some people use currants instead, and some include nuts. :-)

  5. Sounds delicious - I wonder if I can make a gluten-free version?!