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Butter Tarts

February 27, 2019

Butter Tarts


I think as a Canadian who cooks, it’s obligatory to know at least some sort of butter tart recipe. Like when you decide you’re going to cook or bake for a living, as a Canadian, someone just assigns you a butter tart recipe. If the saying in the U.S. is “as American as apple pie”, it’s definitely “as Canadian as butter tarts” up here.

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A Canadian classic. Ooey and Gooey with maple syrup and pecans.

My Butter Tart

I had only ever eaten butter tarts until I was about 18, when I took my first stab at them. It didn’t go so well, but that was probably on me. At the time I was all about substituting ingredients to try and make something mind blowing. Anyways, they were weird and chewy. Not so nice.

Now after working with some wonderful bakers and chefs, and knowing many Canadian mothers and grand mothers, I’ve got a recipe that I can call my own. It’s not wildly different from the norm, but I worked on it for years, and was actually lucky enough to have a bakery I used to work at adopt it as their own, with a couple alterations for large scale baking.

Close up on a Butter Tart

The Dough

For these tarts I use my sweet dough recipe. It’s a super buttery and flaky dough that just melts in your mouth. I have in the past also used an unsweetened dough which was also quite tasty. It’s up to you really. The recipe for sweet dough can simple omit the sugar and instead add a touch of cider vinegar.

Salted butter is pretty key to this recipe as well. Sometimes it feels like salted butter gets left out of all baking. But it has its place. Here, mixed with the brown sugar and maple syrup, it gives the tarts a beautiful sweet-salty caramel taste.

flaky dough and gooey centers

A couple Additions

There’s no raisins in my recipe, but not for any particular reason. I love butter tarts with raisins. I think because I add almond extract to my filling though, the raisins add a bit too much to the flavour profile. The almond extract compliments and enhances the nuttiness from the pecans. So having the raisins just makes it too many tastes to process. Keepin it simple.

Roasted Pecans

Cut that Dough

Using a ring mold is great for cutting out your dough pieces, but not necessary. When I didn’t have access to a good selection of ring molds, I actually used large yoghurt containers and they almost worked better. When I cut my pieces, I try not to cut full circles. That way I avoid too many weird folds when pressing them into the muffin cups. I cut pac man shapes so that I have a little room to shape the dough into the cup form. There’s also a lot of patching that goes into my shells. Which tends to give them an even flakier texture, so I’m okay with that.

How I cut my butter tart dough

Butter Tarts

A classic Canadian treat. Flaky pastry, filled with sweet and nutty custard.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Dough Chilling Time 1 hour
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, canadian


  • 1 Recipe Sweet Pie Dough Linked in Notes
  • 1/4 cup Salted butter Melted
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/4 tsp Almond Extract
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • A Pinch of Cinnamon Literally a pinch. We want aroma more than taste here.
  • 1 cup Pure Canadian Maple Syrup Medium or Amber is best
  • 1 cup Roasted Pecans


  • Heat your oven to 375F
  • Prepare dough as per recipe. Allow to chill for about an hour. The dough can be very soft, so the more chilled the better.
  • Combine all ingredients, except Pecans, in a large mixing bowl. Whisk thoroughly. Set aside.
  • Roll out chilled dough to about 1/4 inch thick. Using a ring mold or a large yoghurt container, cut PacMan shapes out of the dough. Press them gently into each muffin cup, patching the side with extra dough as you go. 
  • Put a good amount of pecans into each tart. 
  • Give your filling another good whisk. Then, transfer it to a large measuring cup. (if you don’t have a large measuring cup, you can pour it in stages into a smaller one) 
    Fill each tart about 3/4 of the way up. Tap your muffin tin gently on the counter, then top up each tart with remaining filling. 
  • Bake in your hot oven for about 20-25minutes. 
    The tarts will be very bubbly, and browned on the top. 
    Allow to cool slightly, then loosen around each tart with a butter knife, and lift out onto a cooling rack and allow to fully cool
  • Store in an air tight container in your fridge. They will last about 2 weeks.


Keyword Butter tart, canadian, maple, maple syrup, pie dough

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