This famous Canadian dessert consists of a flaky pastry shell filled with a rich buttery caramel center. It’s a perfect sweet indulgence whether you’re Canadian or not.
This is a big year for Canada. It’s our 150th birthday celebration! So I’m commemorating with a quintessential Canadian dessert: butter tarts.
This recipe was given to me on a Post-It note from a University classmate. It was her grandmother’s recipe and it was very old-school. The pastry was made with lard and the ingredients were a glug of this and a dribble of that, but it works. Though I did take the time to quantify everything, so I could share the recipe with all of you. I also made a few changes, like substituting half of the lard for butter for more flavor, yet still maintaining the flakiness you can only get from lard. And I increased the baking temperature a bit for a more golden crust.
I especially love the simplicity of the filling in this recipe. It’s mainly butter and brown sugar, so you get this rich deep molasses flavor. There is no fussing with corn syrup or maple syrup in this version. I added some pecans to the filling for some crunch and a nutty flavor. However, if pecans are not your thing, you can add raisins, walnuts, or chocolate chips or leave them plain.
The texture of these butter tarts is flaky and crumbly with a sticky-gooey center. The taste is buttery with a warm caramel flavor. These butter tarts are a simple treat with a decadent flair.
Old-Fashioned Butter Tarts
This famous Canadian dessert consists of a flaky pastry shell filled with a rich buttery caramel center.
- Prep Time: 30 min
- Cook Time: 15 min
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 12 butter tarts
- Category: dessert
- Method: bake
- Cuisine: American
Makes 12 butter tarts
- 3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1/2 tsp (2.5ml) baking powder
- 1/2 tsp (2.5ml) salt
- 1/2 cup (114g) lard
- 1/2 cup (114g) unsalted butter
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp (5ml) white vinegar
- about 1 cup (250ml) cold water
- 3/4 cup (165g) packed brown sugar
- 1/3 cup (75g) unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp (15ml) table or whipping cream
- 1 tsp (5ml) vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans, walnuts, raisins or chocolate chips
- In a large bowl, toss together the flour, baking powder and salt.
- Cut in the lard and butter using a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse oatmeal.
- In a measuring cup, combine the egg and vinegar. Add enough cold water to make one cup.
- Gradually stir in the liquid, adding just enough to make the dough cling together.
- Gather into a ball and divide into two equal portions. Tightly saran wrap both portions, place one in the freezer for later use. Place the other in the fridge and chill for 1 hour.
- Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about 1/8″ thick. Cut out pastry circles using a 4″ cookie cutter and fit into your muffin cups. Place back into the refrigerator until ready to fill.
- Preheat oven to 375F and position rack in lower third of oven.
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar. Remove from heat and stir in the cream and vanilla. Let cool to touch (about 5 minutes) before whisking in the egg.
- Divide the pecans (if using) among the pastry shells and pour in the filling until half full.
- Bake for 13-15 minutes or until crust is lightly golden around the edges and filling is bubbling.
- Let cool completely in the pan. Best way to remove the tarts from the pan is to place a cooling rack (upside down) on top and flip the pan over. Then individually flip each butter tart right side up.
I normally only make a dozen butter tarts at a time, but if you are serving a large crowd and want to make 2 dozen tarts, simply double the filling ingredients and use all the pastry dough.
To prepare the freezer dough for use: Thaw overnight in the fridge and leave out for 15 minutes at room temperature before rolling.
Leftover butter tarts can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Keywords: butter tart recipe, easy butter tarts, Canadian butter tart recipe, pecan butter tarts