butter tarts

My mom makes these butter tarts, for her family, once a year. It takes us that long to recover. Imagine a perfectly crisp, flaky pastry cup filled with lovely plump raisins swimming in a buttery thick caramel pool. When she places the platter in the middle of her dining room table, all conversation halts as each one of us zone in on which of the little treasures we’ll pounce on first. I’ve actually caught Ralph trying to figure out which tart I’m looking at so that he can grab it first! We sound like a bunch of nutbars but the anticipation after three hundred and sixty five days of
waiting is more than any of my mom’s grateful family can politely bear.

I’ve only tried to make these tarts once over thirty years ago. I clearly struggle with failure. It wasn’t a little fail, it was a “what the heck” kind of fail. When I put the tarts in the oven, they looked perfect. When I took them out, they had morphed into little hockey pucks! I’m not embellishing. I used a screwdriver to pry them out of my muffin tins before I chucked them into the garbage pail.

I called Mom this morning before I started writing this post to see if she could help me figure out what I did wrong. Given how long ago it was and my spotty memory – selective blocking – the only thing we could come come with is that I must have used the wrong type of pastry. So although I have yet to build up the courage to try again, I can 100% confirm that these are the most delicious butter tarts in the world.

So where did these tarts come from? I photographed them just before Mom took them into the dining room. Had I waited, there would have been nothing but crumbs…

Butter Tarts

makes 18 tarts

preheat oven 400*F

line 18 muffin cups with pastry – set aside in a cool spot

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1/4 cup butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

Place raisins in a small bowl and cover with hot tap water for 10 minutes then drain well.

Beat remaining ingredients together until well mixed

Divide raisins and batter between pastry cups

Place in preheated oven for 15 minutes

Remove from oven to a cooling rack until tarts are at room temperature.

THE LOVE: Only fill the pastry cups 1/3 full. Over filling will cause the tarts to stick so badly you won’t be able to remove them from the muffin tins.

printable copy

Thanks for reading.

one year ago: white bean mash

  • Penny Wolfe

    One of my favourite treats as a child but being the purist that I was (never liking things in things) Mom always made a few without raisins just for me. And nobody else, and I mean NOBODY, dared to eat those ones. I wasn’t very good at sharing as a child. I think I’ll put these on my “to try to make” list and see if I can make the same fun memories for my kids. (My youngest hates things in things too!)

    • I love that your mom would make some especially for you. My mom has always done the same and as i do for my kids. It must be part of being a “mom”…

  • My grandmother made the best butter tarts ~ they were not pretty to look at but they were delish! You have prompted me to pull out her recipe and attempt to make them myself ~ thank you for that!

  • Butter tarts rock my world! I am from Canada, but live in California, and I miss them so much! If you ever get to Barrie, Ontario, you MUST check out the Sweet Oven. Their butter tarts are mind-blowing. They have about 25 different flavors too…try them all, you won’t be sorry! Thanks for a great post, that has me drooling!

    • If I ever get to Barrie, I will do just that!

      Thanks for reading.

    • Lara

      My grandmother would treat me to Butter Tarts when I visited every summer. She lived just outside of Barrie…. I still love them. I too have migrated South, now in Maryland. No one else in my family has the same reaction to them as I do. Such wonderful memories in each bite. 🙂

      • Hi Lara, I’d love to see your grandmother’s recipe, if you’d care to share…

  • Butter Tarts are tradition and love in our family too. Except its my mother in law that made them for years and years. When I was younger, I tried to make them as well. She gave me the recipe but I never once saw her actually make them… so, with gusto.. I tried. When I finally got the pie crust into the little tart pans (whole other sad story)… I mixed up the goooooey goo.. and pour it in. Well, I always thought my MIL was quite stingy with the “goo” so I filled those lovely little tarts right up to about 7/8 full. Yup… I did that… cause she was “stingy”. Imagine my surprise when 10 minutes later… my oven started SMOKING and I watched through the window as my sugary goo poured over the sides of the pan and onto the floor of the oven I shut the oven off (to avert a fire)… and left them there while I boohoo’d. When they were all cooled… I tossed the whole pan in the garbage (even a screwdriver wouldn’t help these suckers) and had to use a paint scrapper to get the burned sugar off the bottom of my oven.
    I have a huge appreciation for those little gems now… when I pop one or two of my Mother in Laws treasures in my mouth. yup… don’t mind the stingy goo now.

  • Michelle Rochon

    I have to ask, what is the pastry made of…is it like pie crust? It looks a little thicker than that…or is this tart part store bought or made with lots of butter? Not trying to be difficult, but this may work for the Holidays for my family as half have developed nut and chocolate allergies (not me though 🙂 Thanks.

    Also, can you substitute other fruit for the raisins? re-hydrated apricots or perhaps craisins?

    • Hi Michelle, you’re not being difficult at all! If you click on the word “pastry” found in this recipe it will take you to my post with the pastry recipe. You can make the pastry as thick or thin as you like. Mom makes it thicker to ensure a sturdy tart while you’re eating them. Of course you want tender pastry or the experience won’t be as pleasant. And yes you can use whatever dried fruit you like…

  • OMG! I can’t find these in NYC! I need that butter tart fix!

    • I guess you’ll have to come home again! Or you could just make yourself a batch…

  • michaelann

    OMG! I can’t find these in NYC; I need that Butter Tart fix! Love the plate for the pix too Michelle!

  • Hi Michelle, these look delicious! You should enter this recipe in our butter tart contest http://foodiepages.ca/blog/?p=1464

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